Paschal Vigil 2021

“And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”

Let us celebrate in this sacred night Sister Light. From the very beginning of our liturgy, she has been given the place of honour in this church. We salute her presence in the Paschal Candle, which was blessed to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection for fifty days.

Sister Light is the first fruit of the first word, the creature closest to the Word: “In the beginning was the Word. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” According to St Paul, Jesus is “the first born of all creation”: “All things were created through Him and for Him”. We know from the Book of Wisdom that Wisdom was present with God when he created the world. There is thus a link between the Word of God, the Wisdom of God, and the first work of God on the first day of the world, our “Sister Light”. “God is light”. His Word is light. Their Wisdom is clothed with light. Creation is a communication of light.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Wisdom comments: “In the assembly of the Most High, she [opens] her mouth: ‘I came forth from the mouth of the Most High and covered the earth like a mist’.” ‘Like a mist’: we can even figure out the first appearing of light on the very first morning of the world. It was not a violent lightning, but the dawning of a day. Haven’t we all seen the mist slowly rising up over the Solent at the early hours when the sky takes on colours in the East and the night bows out quietly?

“The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” Light brings clarity. Light manifests identity. Sister Light brings about the beauty of the world which comes from Wisdom, from the Word. She tidies up the common house of creation by putting each reality at its right place, in its right relationship with Christ. Light leads to Christ. She centres all things on Christ. She returns everything to Christ. She even directs our human actions to Christ: “He who does what is right comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.”

Come to Sister Light, and live! “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light”. Leave aside the folly of the world and its false wisdom. Welcome the teaching of the Word, the wisdom of the Cross and the light of the Resurrection.

Here she is illuminating this night and making it the night of which is written: ‘The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me and full of gladness’.

See the pillar of luminous darkness between Israel and the Egyptians, separating good from evil, and life from death.

Look at the new Jerusalem, the Church. This is the city of light which Isaiah foresaw. It shines out as a precious gem with its foundations laid with sapphires, its pinnacles of agate, and its wall of precious stones.

Acknowledge the spiritual light of the Law. Baruch salutes her and invites us to “walk toward the shining of her light”. Ezekiel prophesies that she will be written in our hearts by the hand of the Spirit of God.

And now, in the darkness of the tomb observe the “young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe” who points to her, and listen to his luminous message: “He has risen, he is not here, he is going before you in Galilee”.

With Jesus’ resurrection, a new word of wisdom and light is pronounced upon our broken world. A new world is created. A new life is given. A new reality is beginning: this is the Church, which is God’s Kingdom already begun in mystery; this is the Heavenly Jerusalem already drawing us to its light, to the City which God fills with the radiant light of this glory. “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people.” “The city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb”.

Dear Brethren, can you see you see Sister Light playing peacefully and wisely with the Lamb? Why should we still be looking at the tomb? Let us leave the darkness and proceed into the light. Already the Day of the Lord is dawning: the first Day of the week; the Day of the new creation; the Eighth Day in which the first creation is restored and completed. Faith illumines our minds with a new light and a new love makes our hearts burn within us.

Awake, children of light, and walk in the light of your Redeemer. Let the world see in your loving gaze and shining smile the Light of the Risen Christ who dwells in your soul. “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” Renounce the works of darkness, “walk as children of light”, bring forth the fruit of light which “is found in all that is good and right and true.”

Blessed are you, God our Creator, for our Sister Light who makes this world resplendent with the beauty of your Wisdom.

Blessed are you, Christ our Redeemer, for our Sister Light who fills the world with the radiance of your glorious Body.

Blessed are you, Holy Spirit our Comforter, for our Sister Light who opens our eyes to the presence of Jesus, our Risen Lord, who is “with us [everywhere and] always, to the close of the age”. Amen. Alleluia.

APPENDIX
From a Sermon by St Peter Chrysologus

Resurrectionis dies alteram nescit;
lucis aeternae mater noctis tempus ignorat;
perpetuis dies perpetus inluscescit;
resurgentium lux mori non potest;
lux quae noctem delet nescit extingui.

The Day of the Resurrection knows of no other day to follow after;
the source of eternal light does not know the time of night;
for those who are to last for ever, here is the light of an everlasting day;
the light of those who are risen from the dead cannot die;
the light which destroys night cannot be quenched.

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Welcome to the Abbey of Our Lady of Quarr, a monastery on the Isle of Wight, just off the south coast of England. It is home to a small group of Benedictine monks who strive to dedicate their lives to the glory of God, and whose day is characterised by prayer, work and community life.

Quarr Abbey is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Visitors are welcome to attend worship in the Abbey Church. You can visit our gardens, take refreshment in our Tea Shop and find out about the monastery in our Visitor Centre. The Farm Shop offers home grown produce and the Monastery Shop religious articles, books and souvenirs. There is a new exhibition of the work of local artists every week in the gallery.

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