Why Keep Watch? Why Vigil for Easter? (Excerpts from Fr. Louis Bouyer)
If Easter night is a Vigil…this is owed, above all, to the fact that it is the night of the Exodus, the night in which the people of Israel were freed from the yoke of the Egyptians and entered into the freedom of being the sons of God…Why then did Israel celebrate this nocturnal Vigil year after year? Why did she dress as a pilgrim? Why did she eat in a hurry like a traveller preparing to leave on a journey? Was all this only a theatrical commemoration, pleasant to imitate, or the revival of a past event? There is no shadow of a doubt that in the eyes of Israel, the Exodus was the most glorious event of her whole history. Israel was the people of God, and she knew this thanks only to the undeniable election that was the consequence of the intervention of God: an intervention which liberated the people from slavery and established them in the freedom of the sons of God.
For the people of Israel, therefore, the celebration of Pasch, the memorial of the Exodus, meant celebrating their own birth and consequently, reaffirming in their own consciousness that they were God’s chosen people, and that God was with them.
For us too the Vigil must be something more than simply a service of remembrance. It is not a theatrical performance aimed simply and solely at registering historical facts in the mind. In the first place, it is something real. We stay awake because we are waiting: because we are waiting for God to pass among us and because when He comes we want Him to find us ready for the wonderful exodus which he makes possible.
Find more early Christian texts here.
And What’s With the Candle?
Wishing you a sacred and blessed Vigil this evening.