EASTER 2020: Why is this night so different from any other night?

23 Apr 2020

By The Record

The Ruggieri family held a domestic celebration of the Easter Vigil with all the family gathering around the table. Photo: Supplied.

By Fr Michael Moore SM

All Churches were closed this Easter due to the coronavirus pandemic. Christianity was listed as a non-essential service for believers.

So, how was “the Feast of Feasts” celebrated across Perth?

Many Cathedrals and parishes across the state provided live streaming of the Ordinary or the parish priest, with one or two con-celebrants, and a small handful of faithful and technicians.

The Neocatechumenal Way also provided some options that allowed the brothers and sisters of the communities to participate, pray and sing in the Vigil.

Initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way, Kiko Arguello wrote to all communities in some 150 countries, encouraging them of the need for the Pachal Vigil

“In the midst of the darkness in which our society finds itself, we need the Paschal Vigil more than ever; it comes to fill our existence with hope, because in it God manifests himself with fullness,” Mr Arguello wrote.

Mr Arguello invited the brothers and sisters to celebrate the Paschal Vigil, in these exceptional circumstances, in a way different from all the other previous nights of Vigil.

The Neocatechumenal Way was recognised in 1999 by St John Paul II as ‘an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid our society and for our times.’

After a time in the Way, the brothers and sisters are taught to pray the Morning Prayer of the Church on Sunday mornings with their children.

These celebrations of the domestic Church proved a providential preparation to be able to celebrate Easter in the family this year.

One of Kiko’s suggestions was to invite the brothers and sisters to follow the celebrations transmitted from their Archdiocese via internet or by television from the Vatican.

Joel McKenna, 20, plays the guitar while his younger siblings sing during a vigil celebrations in the homes. Photo: Supplied.

Another suggestion was, taking advantage of Zoom or other electronic media, a group of brothers and sisters could celebrate together, reading and listening to the scripture of the Mass, from their respective homes.

In this way, in this climate of anguish, many brothers and sisters were not left alone.

For families with a number of children, Mr Arguello suggested they could celebrate the Vigil together at home as a family.

In Perth, nine communities organised themselves, with the use of electronic media, to celebrate together.

In total, more than 25domestic celebrations of the Vigil were held by families in their respective homes.

Others participated through the livestreaming of the celebrations with Archbishop Costelloe SDB, responding to the various parts of the liturgy and making a Spiritual Communion.

In each community, a priest would seek the assistance of two or three people for the liturgy and for the transmission of the celebration from the parish Church to the homes.

The introductions and proclamation of readings of the Word of God were distributed across all the households of the community who were participating.

Many families across Perth took up this suggestion. Mirrabooka Parishioner Mr Tony Nolan described the night as no less than any other vigil.

“The Easter vigil in our home was very different but so much the same.

“There was communion among all the family members.

“We truly experienced the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in our family.”

Each household spent time on Saturday morning preparing introductions and songs to the nine readings of the Word for the Vigil.

Between 10pm and midnight on Saturday night, all present in each household, including many with young children, came well dressed and gathered around the screen to participate in the Vigil.

They were able to listen to the Word and respond, sing the psalms and songs, and receive a word of encouragement from the homily.

At the moment of the Renewal of Baptismal Promises, a candle was lit for each person.

The Nolan family siblings gathered at 1030pm ready to begin their domestic celebration. Brothers and sisters of the Neocatechumenal Way in the 12 communities across five parishes of the Archdiocese celebrated more than 40 Easter Vigils this Easter 2020. Photo: Supplied.

At around 4am, the presbyter concluded the night long celebration of the Vigil with the dismissal and the assembly, scattered across suburban Perth proclaimed, “Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia!”

Each family and each single household had prepared a beautiful table with flowers and laden with delicacies for a small feast to finish the night of Vigil.

All the domestic celebrations of the Vigil finished with a small dinner.

Mirrabooka parishioner Franco Arace celebrated the night of Vigil with his wife and six children.

“It has been beautiful to stay up at night and recount the wonders that God has done in our lives, just as He did for the people of Israel,” Mr Arace said.

The anguish and uncertainty that filled many homes around the world did not stop or prevent the Church from celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the Year of Our Lord, 2020, whether through online streaming or in the domestic Church, Christians gave hope to a world that is in crisis.

In Perth alone, the brothers and sisters of the Neocatechumenal Way, with their families, filled the City with the acclamation Christ is truly risen!

Fr Michael Moore SM is Rector of the Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary, Redemptoris Mater, Morley and belongs to the Second Community of Mirrabooka.