Day 40 - This is the Night
Welcome to the final day in our Lenten series "40 Days for Vocations." It's Holy Saturday, and tonight we celebrate the great Paschal Vigil.
We've made it to the final day of our 40 days for vocations.
I think that it is fitting that our reflection on vocation ends with Holy Saturday. Today, and this night especially - everything changed. Our very vocation as humanity was healed. (Our parish bulletin referred to the Triduum as the three days that "changed the destiny of humanity" and I absolutely love that description!)
Have you seen this icon before?
We have a variation of this icon hanging on the icon wall in our living room. I absolutely love it. A college professor of mine first introduced it to me, and - I can't remember his exact words - he pointed out how Jesus was a total muscle man (my words) in this icon. Like, he's simultaneously lifting Adam and Eve out of the grave!
That's what's happening here. I love the ancient homily on Holy Saturday. Have you read it or heard it before? We always think of Holy Saturday being a quiet day of waiting...but so much was happening that day! Christ descended down to the dead to free those faithful ones waiting, and to open the gates of heaven for them. First among them, was Adam and Eve.
"Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.
The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise."
Read the rest here. (And please do read the whole thing!)
Today, this very night, Christ opened the gates of heaven.
Man's true vocation is to be in union with God - in heaven - forever. After the Fall, that vocation wasn't possible anymore, because of sin. But now - with the death and resurrection of Christ - it is made a possibility again. Christ restored man to his original vocation.
"O Happy Fault! O Necessary Sin of Adam! That won for us so great a redeemer!"
I love the Exsultet, the beautiful chant sung at the beginning of the Paschal Vigil this night. It is a reminder that, when we celebrate the great Paschal Feast, we recall the night that everything changed. Because of this night, we can now be in heaven one day. We can be with God, forever.
It's important to discern our individual vocations. It's important to live out those individual vocations. But we can't lose sight of why God gives us those vocations. Our vocation is our path to heaven. Our vocation is the way in which Christ takes us by the hand and leads us to Himself.
I hope and pray these 40 days (of Lent and for vocations) has been a blessing for you! Happy Easter!
O God, Father of all Mercies,
Provider of a bountiful Harvest,
Provider of a bountiful Harvest,
send Your Graces upon those
You have called to gather the fruits of Your labor;
preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you.
Open the hearts of Your children
that they may discern Your Holy Will;
inspire in them a love and desire to surrender themselves
to serving others in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ.
Teach all Your faithful to follow their respective paths in life
guided by Your Divine Word and Truth.
Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,
all the Angels, and Saints, humbly hear our prayers
and grant Your Church's needs, through Christ, our Lord. Amen. (source)