Skip to main content


Pope Benedict XVI at the Easter Vigil: This is the Feast of the New Creation

Easter is the feast of the new creation. Jesus is risen and dies no more

Christ, the light, is fire, flame, burning up evil and so reshaping both the world and ourselves. "Whoever is close to me is close to the fire," as Jesus is reported by Origen to have said. And this fire is both heat and light: not a cold light, but one through which God's warmth and goodness reach down to us.

Pope Benedict XVI Lights the Easter Candle at the Vigil

Pope Benedict XVI Lights the Easter Candle at the Vigil


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Below we present the entire text of Pope Benedict XVI's Easter Vigil homily for 2012 as we continue our Octave of Easter celebration

*****

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Easter is the feast of the new creation. Jesus is risen and dies no more. He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death. He has taken mankind up into God himself. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God", as Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians (15:50).

On the subject of Christ's resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: "Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God" (CCL II, 994).

A new dimension has opened up for mankind. Creation has become greater and broader. Easter Day ushers in a new creation, but that is precisely why the Church starts the liturgy on this day with the old creation, so that we can learn to understand the new one aright.

At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word on Easter night, then, comes the account of the creation of the world. Two things are particularly important here in connection with this liturgy.

On the one hand, creation is presented as a whole that includes the phenomenon of time. The seven days are an image of completeness, unfolding in time. They are ordered towards the seventh day, the day of the freedom of all creatures for God and for one another.

Creation is therefore directed towards the coming together of God and his creatures; it exists so as to open up a space for the response to God's great glory, an encounter between love and freedom. On the other hand, what the Church hears on Easter night is above all the first element of the creation account: "God said, 'let there be light!'" (Gen 1:3). The creation account begins symbolically with the creation of light.

The sun and the moon are created only on the fourth day. The creation account calls them lights, set by God in the firmament of heaven. In this way he deliberately takes away the divine character that the great religions had assigned to them. No, they are not gods. They are shining bodies created by the one God. But they are preceded by the light through which God's glory is reflected in the essence of the created being.

What is the creation account saying here? Light makes life possible. It makes encounter possible. It makes communication possible. It makes knowledge, access to reality and to truth, possible. And insofar as it makes knowledge possible, it makes freedom and progress possible. Evil hides. Light, then, is also an expression of the good that both is and creates brightness.

It is daylight, which makes it possible for us to act. To say that God created light means that God created the world as a space for knowledge and truth, as a space for encounter and freedom, as a space for good and for love. Matter is fundamentally good, being itself is good. And evil does not come from God-made being, rather, it comes into existence through denial. It is a "no".

At Easter, on the morning of the first day of the week, God said once again: "Let there be light". The night on the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipse of Jesus' passion and death, the night of the grave had all passed. Now it is the first day once again - creation is beginning anew. "Let there be light", says God, "and there was light": Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death.

Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God's pure light. But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days. With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God's new day, new for all of us.

But how is this to come about? How does all this affect us so that instead of remaining word it becomes a reality that draws us in? Through the sacrament of baptism and the profession of faith, the Lord has built a bridge across to us, through which the new day reaches us. The Lord says to the newly-baptized: Fiat lux - let there be light.

God's new day - the day of indestructible life, comes also to us. Christ takes you by the hand. From now on you are held by him and walk with him into the light, into real life. For this reason the early Church called baptism photismos - illumination.

Why was this? The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil. The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general.

If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other "lights", that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk.

Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment? With regard to material things, our knowledge and our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify. Faith, then, which reveals God's light to us, is the true enlightenment, enabling God's light to break into our world, opening our eyes to the true light.

Dear friends, as I conclude, I would like to add one more thought about light and illumination. On Easter night, the night of the new creation, the Church presents the mystery of light using a unique and very humble symbol: the Paschal candle. This is a light that lives from sacrifice. The candle shines inasmuch as it is burnt up. It gives light, inasmuch as it gives itself. Thus the Church presents most beautifully the paschal mystery of Christ, who gives himself and so bestows the great light.

Secondly, we should remember that the light of the candle is a fire. Fire is the power that shapes the world, the force of transformation. And fire gives warmth. Here too the mystery of Christ is made newly visible. Christ, the light, is fire, flame, burning up evil and so reshaping both the world and ourselves. "Whoever is close to me is close to the fire," as Jesus is reported by Origen to have said. And this fire is both heat and light: not a cold light, but one through which God's warmth and goodness reach down to us.

The great hymn of the Exsultet, which the deacon sings at the beginning of the Easter liturgy, points us quite gently towards a further aspect. It reminds us that this object, the candle, has its origin in the work of bees. So the whole of creation plays its part. In the candle, creation becomes a bearer of light.

But in the mind of the Fathers, the candle also in some sense contains a silent reference to the Church. The cooperation of the living community of believers in the Church in some way resembles the activity of bees. It builds up the community of light. So the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d'Ítre is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.

Let us pray to the Lord at this time that he may grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ's radiant face may enter our world (cf. LG 1). Amen.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.

Keywords: Easter, Vigil, Light, darkness, Exultet, Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican, St Peters Square



NEWSLETTERS »

E-mail:       Zip Code: (ex. 90001)
Today's Headlines

Sign up for a roundup of the day's top stories. 5 days / week. See Sample

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 3 of 3 Comments

  1. DENISE M. SHARAR
    2 years ago

    Thank you Pope Benedict XVI. I thank God that i am being taught by a great theologian. May God bless you.

  2. abey
    2 years ago

    The light which is around us, that which comes from the Sun, Candle or Electricity, used to 'Symbolize" the true light, which in the truth comes from the elements of nature, where these elements have limited spans to being exhausted in time, to our present bodies whereas the light off GOD, from Him is for ever, since GOD is life who lives for ever, to our Resurrected bodies in Christ to which the Bible in revelations states of the Holy Jerusalem "Uncut By Hand". "There shall be no night there, they need neither candle or light of the sun for the Lord GOD giveth them light--" again to the understanding "The City had no need of the sun or moon to shine in it, for the Glory of GOD did lighten it & the Lamb is the light thereof., Like the "U' of the Sun is to the "O" of the Son, like wise is the 'P" of the Lamp to the 'B" of the Lamb..

  3. jh
    2 years ago

    I appreciate Catholic Online's presentations of the Holy Father's homilies. Whenever he speaks, the Holy Father unravels the mysteries and complexities, so to speak, of our faith. Our human mind can never fathom the mind of God, but I am so grateful when I grow in knowledge of the faith. I also remember, however, that Our Lord does not ask if we understand Him, but if we love Him. "Peter, do you love Me?"

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

More Easter / Lent

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading


Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading


Holy Week

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading


Holy Thursday

HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading


Good Friday

On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading


Easter Sunday

Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading


Fasting and Abstinence

For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading


FAQs About Lent

Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading


Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now


What did you give up for Lent?

What did you give up for Lent?

From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »

Lent / Easter News

  • 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading

  • 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading

  • 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package.  It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery:  The Crowning ...Continue Reading

  • Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
    Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading

Good Friday

  • Good Friday

    On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.

    The Cross

    In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More

Ash Wednesday

  • Ash Wednesday

    Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

    The Ashes

    The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More

Stations of the Cross

  • Stations of the Cross

    Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.

    Opening Prayer

    ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations

Fasting & Abstinence

  • 'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35

    Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.

    Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
    Learn More »


Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 13:1-11
Yahweh said this to me, 'Go and buy a linen waistcloth and put ... Read More

Psalm, Deuteronomy 32:18-19, 20, 21
(You forget the Rock who fathered you, the God who made you, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:31-35
He put another parable before them, 'The kingdom of Heaven is ... Read More

Saint of the Day

July 28 Saint of the Day

St. Innocent I
July 28: Innocent was born at Albano, Italy. He became Pope, succeeding ... Read More