The Sacrament of Illumination

Jesus' resurrectionHere is the full text from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Easter Vigil homily,  The Sacrament of Illumination, taken from the book Lent with Pope Benedict XVI: Meditations for Every Day. The Word Among Us Press, 2012.

Gregory of Tours (fourth century) recounts a practice that in some places was preserved for a long time, of lighting the new fire for the celebration of the Easter Vigil directly from the sun, using a crystal.  Light and fire, so to speak, were received anew from heaven, so that all the lights and fires of the year could be kindled from them.

This is a symbol of what we are celebrating in the Easter Vigil.  Through his radical love for us, in which the heart of God and the heart of man touched, Jesus Christ truly took light from heaven and brought it to the earth – the light of truth and the fire of love that transform man’s being.  He brought the light, and now we know who God is and what God is like.  Thus, we also know what our human situation is:  what we are and for what purpose we exist.  When we are baptized, the fire of this light is brought down deep within ourselves.  Thus, in the early Church, Baptism was also called the Sacrament of Illumination.  God’s light enters into us; thus, we ourselves become children of light.

We must not allow this light of truth that shows us the path to be extinguished.  We must protect it from all the forces that seek to eliminate it so as to cast us back into darkness regarding God and ourselves.  Darkness, at times, can seem comfortable.  I can hide and spend my life asleep.  Yet we are called not to darkness but to light.

In our baptismal promises, we rekindle this light, so to speak, year by year.  Yes, I believe that the world and my life are not the product of chance but of eternal Reason and eternal Love; they are created by almighty God.  Yes, I believe that in Jesus Christ, in his incarnation, in his cross and resurrection, the face of  God has been revealed; that in him God is present in our midst; he unites us and leads us toward our goal, toward eternal Love.  Yes, I believe that the Holy Spirit gives us the word of truth and enlightens our hearts; I believe that in the communion of the Church, we all become one body with the Lord, and thus we encounter his resurrection and eternal life.  The Lord has granted us the light of truth.  This light is also fire, a powerful force coming from God, a force that does not destroy but seeks to transform our hearts so that we truly become men of God and so that his peace can become active in this world.

– Homily, Easter Vigil, March 22, 2008

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4 Responses to The Sacrament of Illumination

  1. Biltrix says:

    Happy Easter, Terry! Christos Anesti! Alleluia!

  2. lilyboat says:

    I love his writing so much.. thank you terry! Happy Easter!

  3. Happy Easter to you and your family.

  4. Reblogged this on theraineyview and commented:
    Happy Easter! He is risen! Alleluia!

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