Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Easter Vigil 2022

Easter Vigil 2022
April 16, 2022
Cathedral of Mary Our Queen

Accompanying Our Savior

For some forty days of Lent, we have fasted and prayed with Christ. Throughout Holy Week, we followed the Lord even more closely as we took part in those saving events which gave us new life in Christ. On Palm Sunday, we greeted the Lord with joy as he entered his City of Jerusalem. On Holy Thursday, we sat at table with Christ as he gave us the gift of the Eucharist, the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice in which we are fed with his Body and Blood. On Good Friday, we stood beneath the Cross, with Mary and the Beloved Disciple as the Author of Life died to save us in loving obedience to his Father’s saving will. We wept as the lifeless body of Jesus was taken down from the Cross, placed in his Mother’s arms, and laid in a borrowed tomb. Now, on this night of nights, we are witnesses to his Resurrection from the dead. It is as if we had replaced the sleeping guards, and were wide-awake when Jesus emerged from the tomb, full of life, triumphant over sin and death.

Awakening Our Faith

Dear friends, this night let our faith be awakened for it is the night of the Resurrection, the night of our deliverance. This night is the Church’s Great Vigil of Resurrection, and if we would understand the great mystery unfolding before our eyes of faith, we have only to be attentive to this most solemn liturgy.

We assembled this night in the darkness and there we lighted the new fire. As its flames leapt up into the night sky, new hope was kindled in our hearts. From the new fire, we lighted the Paschal Candle, symbol of Christ among us. Like the pillar of fire that guided the Israelites through dark and foreign territory, the Paschal Candle lighted our way through the night, towards the sanctuary. “Christ our light!” we chanted three times as light enveloped the darkness. And three times we answered, “Thanks be to God!”

Then the Church sang her ancient song of praise, the Exsultet. The Bride of Christ sang to her Risen Lord with a heart full of joy and wonderment. She called on the heavens and the earth to rejoice, for the Lord of Creation has risen from the dead. She calls on her every member to rejoice, you and me, and every Christian, “for Christ has conquered, glory fills you, and darkness vanishes forever!” The Church’s refrain rang out, ‘This is the night, yes, the night of our salvation!’

Filled with confident hope, the Church then invited us to listen to God’s Word. We marveled at the wisdom and love with which God created the world, and still more wondrously created man and woman in his own image – creatures made to share his love and freely return his love. Yet, we know the sequel, you and I: We sinned, our ancestors and ourselves, and marred the image of God within us. We began to walk in darkness, yet even in that darkness a light shone in the distance. God revealed himself to his Chosen People, and delivered them from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land… … thus was prefigured our deliverance from the slavery of sin and death in Baptism. So too, through the prophets sent to the Chosen People, we came to understand the efficacy of God’s Word (cf. Is 55:10) in accomplishing his plan and purpose. We heard the prophet promise that God’s Law would be ‘written upon our hearts’, (cf. Jer 31:33: Ez 36:26; Rom 2:15). his Law which teaches us how to live as “children of light” (Eph 5:8).

New Life of Baptism

With the words of the prophets ringing in our ears, we rejoiced as St. Paul proclaimed how God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ Jesus, in and through his saving Death and Resurrection. Our joy intensified as we heard him say that we truly do share in Jesus’ victory over sin and death through Baptism: “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,” Paul tells us, “so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life!” (Rom 6:4; cf. Col 2:12) Thus were our hearts were prepared to receive the Good News of the Resurrection!

On this night of nights, those of us already baptized by water and the Holy Spirit will renew the promises of our Baptism – In the light and power of the Resurrection, we will renounce Satan and his evil works and embrace with renewed fervor the faith of the Church, begging that our faith be cleansed, renewed, and deepened. Thus the waters of baptism will be stirred up within our hearts! This night, I will receive five among us into the Holy Catholic Church, as they profess with us the fullness of faith: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:4). These five and another four will receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation, and all nine of you will enter into the full fellowship of the Church, joining with us at the banquet of Christ’s Sacrifice, the Eucharistic mystery, there to proclaim the dying and rising of Jesus and to share in his Body and Blood. As all this takes place, dear friends, let us see with the eyes of faith the Lord Jesus, risen and standing in our midst, for ‘his love is everlasting!’ (cf. Ps 103)

By What Water We Have Been Cleansed . . . This dear friends, is the night when light conquers darkness, the night when grace overcomes sin and life overcomes death. The Risen Lord does indeed stand among us, transcendent in his glory yet tangible in his Sacraments. As this Great Vigil gives way to the dawn of Eucharist, may we be wide awake and deeply aware of what the Lord has done for us. May we know ‘by what water we have been cleansed, by whose Spirit we have been re-born, and by whose Blood we have been redeemed!’ (Collect, 2nd Sunday of Easter) Christ is Risen! Indeed he is truly Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Archbishop William E. Lori

Archbishop William E. Lori was installed as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore May 16, 2012.

Prior to his appointment to Baltimore, Archbishop Lori served as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., from 2001 to 2012 and as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington from 1995 to 2001.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Lori holds a bachelor's degree from the Seminary of St. Pius X in Erlanger, Ky., a master's degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977.

In addition to his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori serves as Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and is the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.