The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, said during his Easter Vigil homily: “It is significant that we have not stayed at home tonight as if we regarded the Resurrection as something to be celebrated privately for those of us privileged enough to have faith.
“We have gathered in this very public way, as Catholics are gathering all over the world. We must witness before the world to the truth of Christ’s rising from the dead and its impact on us and on the whole world.
Easter emboldens us so that we are no longer frightened or bewildered by a world that seems to be going badly astray. We need to see the world with our eyes opened and clear and illumined by the light of the resurrection.
Archbishop Longley emphasised: “Easter does not overturn Good Friday – our Lord’s great outpouring of love for us cost him his suffering and death – but his resurrection means that we and our world can be changed by his sacrifice. The Cross is not forgotten – it is now transformed into the life-giving sign of his victory over sin and death.”
Archbishop Bernard Longley Concluded: “Easter means new life: not the destruction of our old life, not conquering the world by power or coercion but seeking its gradual transformation as the light of Christ penetrates and reveals the beauty and holiness that were formerly hidden in the dark.
“Easter demands a new attitude from us because the world, with all its sinfulness and corruption, is the very world that God has always loved. He wants it to be made beautiful through the forgiveness of sins.
Archbishop Longley was the Principal Celebrant and Preacher at the Easter Vigil on the evening of Holy Saturday, 30 March, at the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham.
The first part of the Easter Vigil took place in the bitter cold outside the Cathedral Crypt. The Archbishop of Birmingham blessed the fire and prepared and lit the 2013 Paschal Candle, which was then carried by the Deacon, Fr Paul Moss, in procession, into the warmth of the Cathedral. Twice the Deacon held the Paschal Candle aloft and sang “Lumen Christie”, “The Light of Christ”.
Once the congregation, holding lighted candles, were back inside the darkened Cathedral, the Deacon sang “Lumen Christie” for a third time and placed the Paschal Candle in its stand, before he sang the Easter Exultet.
The Second Part, the Liturgy of the Word included three readings from the Old Testament. Archbishop Longley then intoned the Easter, Gloria in excelsis Deo, one of the high point of the Easter Vigil. The bells rang out and the sound of the organ reached every corner of the great Pugin Cathedral, now symbolically filled with light and the joy of the Risen Christ.
After the New Testament reading, Archbishop Longley solemnly intoned the great Easter Alleluia which was repeated by the congregation. The Gospel, a vivid account of the resurrection, according to St Luke, was read before the Archbishop gave his homily.
The Baptismal Liturgy followed. After blessing the baptismal water, which included holding the Paschal Candle in the water, the Archbishop asked the four adult candidates – and a baby – their Godparents, and Sponsors, to make their Baptismal Promises and renounce sin and Satan. The congregation, holding lighted candles, also renewed their Baptismal Promises.
Archbishop Longley then received a number of adults into Full Communion with the Catholic Church and then administered the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The Archbishop and all the priests present held their hands outstretched over the candidates and prayed that God would pour out the Holy Spirit on them. The Archbishop dipped his right thumb in the Oil of Chrism and made the sign of the cross on the forehead of each candidate and said: “Be sealed with the Gift of the holy Spirit.”
The Liturgy of the Eucharist followed. Canon Gerry Breen, Cathedral Dean; the new Rector, Fr David Oakley of St Mary’s College, Oscott, the Diocesan Seminary; members of staff, and other visiting priests, concelebrated the Mass with the Archbishop of Birmingham.
Before he gave the final blessing, Archbishop Bernard Longley wished everyone a very Happy Easter and encouraged them to pray for Pope Francis as he began his Petrine Ministry at the start of a new era for the Catholic Church.
A memorable Easter Vigil, which lasted more than 2½ hours, ended with the wonderful recessional hymn, Jesus Christ is risen to-day, Alleluia!