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Easter Vigil: The Light of Christ


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Pope Francisattends Easter Vigil 2014 (Source: sacredspace102.blogspot.in)
Pope Francisattends Easter Vigil 2014 (Source: sacredspace102.blogspot.in)

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Easter is a joyful and happy occasion for all Christians. They decorate their churches with flowers and attend church on this day.

In some Christian churches, Easter worship begins at about 11:30 pm on Holy Saturday. At midnight, they ring the bells to tell the world that Christ has risen from the dead.

Roman Catholic monks of the Order of Saint Benedict preparing to light the Christ candle prior to Easter Vigil mass at St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown, New Jersey. (Photo: John Stephen Dwyer)
Roman Catholic monks of the Order of Saint Benedict preparing to light the Christ candle prior to Easter Vigil mass at St. Mary’s Abbey in Morristown, New Jersey. (Photo: John Stephen Dwyer)

In some churches of the Roman Catholics and the Church of England, people will hold a vigil. They will gather outside the church around a bonfire.

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Paschal Candles
Paschal Candles

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The church being in darkness, one of the Deacons or Acolytes (servers) will carry a large unlit candle called the Paschal candle marked with a cross and the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet Alpha (Α) and Omega (Ω).

The Celebrant after blessing the fire will turn towards the person carrying the large candle and prepare the Paschal candle by drawing with his finger or incising in the wax with a stylus a Cross while reciting these words:

Christ yesterday and today, (the vertical beam)
the beginning and the end, (the transverse beam)
Alpha (the Greek letter Α above the vertical beam of the cross)
and Omega, (the Greek letter Ω below the vertical beam of the cross)

Year
all time belongs to Him, (the first numeral of the current year in the upper left-hand angle of the Cross)
and all ages; (the second number of the current year in the upper right-hand angle of the cross)
to Him be glory and power, (the third numeral of the current year in the lower left-hand angle of the Cross)
through every age and for ever. (the fourth numeral of the current year in the lower right-hand angle of the Cross)
Amen.

Next, one of the Acolytes (servers) gives the grains of incense symbolizing the five wounds Christ received at the crucifixion one by one to the Celebrant who inserts them into the candle, saying:

Grains

By his holy (1)
and glorious wounds (2)
may Christ our Lord guard (3)
and keep us. (4)
Amen. (5)

Lighting the Paschal Candle (Source: catholiccourier.com)
Lighting the Paschal Candle (Source: catholiccourier.com)

The Celebrant lights the Paschal candle saying:

May the light of Christ, rising in glory,
banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

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The Paschal candle is then taken through the church, with the deacon lifting it at three different times, singing: “The Light of Christ” (or Lumen Christi) and the congregation sings in reply: “Thanks be to God” (or Deo Gratias).

Everyone lights their candle from the Paschal candle and join the procession. The Paschal candle symbolizes Christ, the Light of the World.

After the procession with the paschal candle, before the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word, follows the glorious Easter song of the Catholic Church: the Exsultet (spelled in pre-1920 editions of the Roman Missal as Exultet) or Easter Proclamation (Latin: Praeconium Paschale).

The Exsultet is a magnificent hymn of praise sung, by a deacon, before the paschal candle during the Easter Vigil in the Roman Rite of Mass. Exsultet is also used in Anglican and various Lutheran churches, as well as other western Christian denominations.

In the absence of a deacon, a priest or by a cantor may sing the Exsultet.

The lyrics of Exsultet are beautiful and has profound symbolism. It describes the dignity and meaning of the mystery of Easter. It tells of man’s sin, of God’s mercy, and of the great love the Redeemer has for humanity. It admonishes the faithful to thank the Trinity for all the graces lavished upon them.

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Exsultet (Roman Catholic English text)

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

(Therefore, dearest friends,
standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,
invoke with me, I ask you,
the mercy of God almighty,
that he, who has been pleased to number me,
though unworthy, among the Levites,
may pour into me his light unshadowed,
that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises).

(Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.)
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right and just.

It is truly right and just,
with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out his own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,
whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,
when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children,
from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night
that even now throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night
when Christ broke the prison bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.

Our birth would have been no gain,
had we not been redeemed.
O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!

O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!

O happy fault
that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

This is the night
of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.

The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
a flame divided but undimmed,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honour,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honour of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.
Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.
May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

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“The Light of Faith tour” – Vatican’s St. Peter’s Cricket Club in England


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Vatican cricket team poses with the dome of St. Peter's basilica in the background. The newly-formed team will play against the Church of England first XI and the Royal household team. (Photo: Chris Warde-Jones)
The Vatican cricket team poses with the dome of St. Peter’s basilica in the background. The newly-formed team will play against the Church of England first XI and the Royal household team. (Photo: Chris Warde-Jones)

Father Tony Currer (41) leads Vatican’s first-ever cricket team. According to a released team list, seven Indians dominate the team and Father Curer is its only Englishman. Also, in the team are two Sri Lankans and one Pakistani. All members of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club are young seminarians training for the priesthood, many of them aged between 24 and 41.

Preparations for the cricket club began around a year ago due to the enthusiasm of Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, who said the initiative was an example of “sporting diplomacy”.

Pope Francis with the members of Vatican's Saint Peter's Cricket Club (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page)
Pope Francis with the members of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page)

Pope Francis, born in Argentina is an avid football fan, but knows little about cricket. He blessed the Vatican’s “underdog” cricket team that will be facing a formidable Church of England XI during their maiden foreign tour to England dubbed “The Light of Faith tour“. The Holy Father signed a cricket bat, which the team will take with them to England.

Members of the St Peter's cricket team, from left, Deepak Anto, captain Anthony Currer, Ajeesh George, Davidson Jestus, and Pratheesh Thomas (PA)
Members of the St Peter’s cricket team, from left, Deepak Anto, captain Anthony Currer, Ajeesh George, Davidson Jestus, and Pratheesh Thomas (PA)

The papal XI will play matches against chaplains of the British armed forces at Aldershot and the Royal Household Cricket Club at Windsor Castle, as well as two other games. The climax of the tour will be a showdown with a Church of England team in Canterbury on September 19, 2014.

The manager of Papal XI Father Eamonn O’Higgins, and “spiritual director” of the team, said:

“Realistically, we are the rank underdogs with a very outside chance, but that’s OK. None of us has played first class cricket. The boys have not had a lot of time to practice. What we hope for, above all, is a good match.”

The Vatican cricketers will be praying and playing during the eight-day tour of England organized by the Anglican weekly newspaper The Church Times and Kent County Cricket Club. They will be visiting several holy sites and raising money for the Global Freedom Network, which fights against modern slavery and human trafficking.

Father Jery Njaliath (36), a priest from Kerala said:

“We’re going over there to beat them, to play to the maximum. But we’ll certainly play in the spirit of the game.”

Father Tony Currer, the captain of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club said:

“Win or lose, the first cricket match in history between the Vatican and the Church of England will be an event  to remember and to build on.”

St. Peter's team in London before moving on to Aldershot (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page
St. Peter’s team in London before moving on to Aldershot (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page

On September 13, 2014, St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the first match of The Light of Faith Tour against the Chaplains of the armed forces played at Aldershot Army Cricket Ground. St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the match by 81 runs.

Scoreboard:
St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) 152/2 (20 overs)
Chaplains XI 71/4 (20 overs).

St. Peter's XI in Brighton (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page)
St. Peter’s XI in Brighton (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page)

On September 14, 2014, in the 2nd match played between St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) Vs. St. Peter’s CC (Brighton), the Vatican team won the toss and chose to bowl first. St. Peter’s Vatican lost the T20 game to St. Peter’s Brighton.

Scoreboard:
St. Peter’s Brighton 168/6 (20 overs)
St. Peter’s Vatican 114/9 (20 overs)

St. Peter's XI at Ascott House (Photo: St. Peter's Cricket Club - Vatican Facebook page)
St. Peter’s XI at Ascott House (Photo: St. Peter’s Cricket Club – Vatican Facebook page)

In the third match of The Light of Faith tour played yesterday, September 14, 2014, St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) faced the Authors XI at Ascott House. It was a 30 overs match. The Authors XI won the toss and chose to bowl first. St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the match by 4 runs.

Scoreboard:
St. Peter’s 151 (29 overs)
Authors XI 147/4 (30 overs)

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Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club: An Initiative Aimed at Forging Ties


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O' Higgins. (AP Photo)
From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O’ Higgins. (AP Photo)

Cricket is a game traditionally played in Rome only by anglophones, eccentric English aristocrats and immigrants from the subcontinent. However, on October 22, 2013, John McCarthy, the Australian Ambassador to The Holy See, Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Father Eamon O’ Higgins, and Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, met the journalists and announced the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

John McCarthy QC – Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:- Kerry Myers)
John McCarthy QC – The Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:– Kerry Myers)

Saint Peter’s CC is the brainchild of John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. His son trained for the priesthood in Rome was frustrated by the lack of cricketing possibilities in the Vatican even though there is a significant number of people, mostly seminarians and clerics from cricket-playing countries who are keen to play cricket. McCarthy wanted something similar to the Clericus Cup – a soccer tournament among the religious colleges and seminaries of Rome.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas
Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, the club’s chairman, an off-spin bowler, said:

“I think cricket will begin to speak a new language — perhaps Latin, coming into the neighbourhood of the Vatican and beginning to take its first baby steps. We have the expertise. We have the will to do things. And I’m sure we’ll start with our baby steps and we’ll go far ahead. … We hope to have ecumenical dialogue through cricket and play a Church of England side by September.”

In response to a suggestion that cricketing terms and field positions might be translated into Latin or Italian, John McCarthy was firm: “English is the language of cricket and will remain the language of cricket”.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis, known for both intercultural and interfaith dialogue, is a known football enthusiast than a cricket watcher. He still supports the San Lorenzo football club of his native Buenos Aires. Father Mascarenhas said he believed the pontiff, as a “very open man”, would come to accept cricket.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini  Associated Press  March 5, 2013 )
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini Associated Press March 5, 2013 )

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture, praised the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s CC as a chance to celebrate the nobility of “true sport,” an “expression of inter-culturality” and a “dialogue between people”.

Ambassador McCarthy said: “It is certainly the case that the Holy Father has heard of cricket … as a sport that was played in schools conducted by his [Jesuit] order in Argentina.”

Father Eamon O’ Higgins said: “But I think this is something that goes in line with one of the objectives of Pope Francis, which is to reach out and not stay within our own security zone.”

The organizers hope this initiative for forging ties with teams of other faiths, eventually, would lead to interfaith activities involving cricket matches against teams from Buddhist, Hindu,  Muslim, and Sikh educational institutions.

To begin with, the Vatican cricketers challenged their Anglican counterparts to play cricket at Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London – the home of cricket. Ambassador John McCarthy said:

“It is hoped there will be a team of sufficient level that, for instance, in the next year they could play a team nominated by the Church of England. … It would be the dearest aspiration of so many of the cricketers here that that game take place at Lord’s.”

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)
Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, was not so optimistic. He quietly said the Vatican would try to put together a team which could “lose with dignity” against the English. “I think they’re very strong,” he added.

Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury
Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury

Responding to the Vatican’s proposal, Mark Rylands, suffragan bishop of Shrewsbury and a keen cricketer, said:

“I am delighted to hear of the formation of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club and look forward to welcoming them to England as brothers. We do not have a national team at present, but I’m confident that it will be possible for an annual fixture to be played in the spirit of ecumenism. To that end I hope we can keep any sledging to a minimum and that neutral umpires will not be necessary.”

Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)
Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)

On December 20, 2013, the Church of England formally took up Vatican’s challenge to settle scores on the cricket pitch almost 500 years after their split with the Vatican. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the 80-million strong worldwide Anglican communion, accepted the challenge through his representative to The Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop David Moxon, from New Zealand.

Archbishop David Moxon - Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
Archbishop David Moxon – Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Archbishop Moxon said the match would be held at Lord’s in September 2014 after the Anglicans formed a team of amateurs from Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and nearby theological schools.

When asked if a combination of sports diplomacy and inter-religious dialogue could help improve relations between the two Churches, Archbishop Moxon said:

“It will introduce a conversation piece all over the world whenever Catholics and Anglicans get together. … I think it can only do good and increase the bonds of affection we have for each other.”

Father Eamonn O’Higgins, the organizer of the Vatican cricket team, gave Archbishop Moxon the ball that will be used in the match.

A league composed of best players among priests and seminarians from countries with a cricket tradition – Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – form the Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris - CNA)
The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris /CNA)

The Vatican team will wear the official white and gold colours of The Holy See and their jackets will have two crossed keys – the seal of the papacy,

Brother K.K. Joseph, an Indian who trained a number of future test players while they were in schools run by his religious order in India will coach the Vatican team.

A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae's Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)
A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae’s Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)

Saint Peter’s CC has already organized trial matches. It aims to have a Twenty20-style tournament between all the pontifical colleges of Rome. A pitch near Ciampino airport on the outskirts of the city has been made available.

While Saint Peter’s CC is currently men only, the organizers are also on the lookout for Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan nuns, who have played cricket before, in order to form a women’s cricket team.

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