Fr. Mel Sandoval celebrated the Easter Vigil Mass last night with tons of love. He served with passion for the Lord! Led the parishioners of St. Martha to the ultimate worship.
The children and the youth of the parish served gladly together with their families.
Fr. Mel sang the Exultet and the prayer to the Saints straight from the heart.
Fr. Mel during the ceremonial blessing of light.
Crossing from darkness to light. Little angels praising the risen Christ.
Know more about the Easter Vigil Mass from ACatholic.org:
The Easter Vigil Mass is the most important Mass in the Catholic Church. Catholics throughout the entire world will celebrate this most holiest of nights, in union with Jesus Christ and with all of their brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. We welcome our new members into the Catholic church during this Mass and feel a great spiritual solidarity with them. We pray for them, and with them, as they consecrate their lives to Jesus Christ. It is a very holy and unifying experience to attend the Easter Vigil Mass.
The Easter Vigil Mass always takes place after nightfall. Our church lies in darkness and waiting. The light of Christ has gone out of the world and darkness will have covered the earth where ever the Easter Vigil Mass takes place. A match will be struck in the darkness and the Easter fires will be lit outside of the church, representing Christ’s return from the tomb. Jesus Christ is the light that dispels the darkness of our world.
The people of different parishes throughout the world will gather around a brand new fire that has begun to burn, and a new paschal candle will be lit for the first time. The priest will act in the place of Jesus Christ, as he leads the people who are gathered there with him to the darkened, empty church. A new Easter candle will burn brightly, leading the procession of the people of God. The priest acts “in persona of Christ,” carrying the newly lit paschal candle into the church that awaits his return in total darkness. He brings the light of Christ into the church for the first time since Good Friday. It is Jesus Christ alone who dispels the darkness of our lives. All that we do, and all that we are, is nothing without him. He is the source of all the love, light and goodness in our lives.
There are many local traditions that will take place throughout the world during the Easter Vigil Mass. Often times though, each person that enters the church for Mass that night will light their own candle from the new Easter candle at the doors of the church. Their individual candles will collectively fill the entire church with light, representing the light of Christ that burns within each one of us. The new paschal candle will later be dipped into the baptismal waters three times when the waters are blessed, calling down the Holy Spirit to descend upon the waters.
It is fitting that the first words of the holy scriptures for Mass that night will be:
“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. God then separated the light from the darkness…”
Then the creation story will be retold to all the people.
The psalm that follows will repeat “Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.” This is fitting, because the new parishioners who are baptized that night will also renew the face of the earth and the very church itself, with the newly ignited fire of the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.
The next reading from the old testament will recount the story of how God tested Abraham by telling him to light a fire and offer his only beloved son to God as a human sacrifice. This is because God wanted to test Abraham to see if he loved his son more than Him. When it came right down to it, Abraham did not love his son more than God, because he made the decision to obey what God commanded him to do. Because he obeyed God, the angel stopped him from sacrificing his son, and Abraham was greatly blessed because of this. This is why Abraham became the father of many nations. This is also something the new catechumens and candidates will do upon their entry into the Catholic church during the Easter Vigil Mass. They will choose God above everything else in their life and we should make a decision along with them, to do the same.
The next reading tells us how God parted the red sea and led His people out of the bondage of slavery and sin in Egypt, into a new life to be lived in holiness and unity with Him. This is true for all of us who have been baptized and the ones who also will be baptized on this night as well. Jesus led all of us out of sin, through the waters of baptism, into our new life in him.
The next reading begins by saying that the one who has become your husband is your Maker, his name is the Lord of Hosts. This reflects the decision that Abraham made to choose God above everyone else, including his own son. We are called to love God and the Lord Jesus Christ more than any other person in our lives as well. This does not mean that our marriages and family are not important though. It simply means that our love for God should always come first in our lives.
The next reading says “Thus says the Lord: All you who are thirsty, come to the water”. It recognizes the deep hunger that every human person has for God. Psalm 42 describes this thirst for God very well when it says “like a deer thirsts for water, so I thirst for you, my God”. The new catechumens have recognized this thirst for God and His living waters, yet we too, continue to thirst for God through out our lives.
The next reading tells us how God calls his people and when they answer with understanding “Here we are!”, they will shine with joy for their Maker. This describes how the catechumens and candidates have answered God’s call and have come forward to acknowledge Him. If you have ever been brought into the Catholic church at the Easter Vigil, or have witnessed others who have, then you may have noticed that our new Catholics do seem to glow with the light of the Holy Spirit the whole night. So do we though. We will be shinning with joy at the Easter mass as well, especially if we went to confession and set things right before the Lord during the season of Lent.
The next reading says that God “will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities.” And that “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you.” We will be His people and He will be our God. What an absolutely beautiful reading this is. It gives us all much hope for the future. The things of the past are no more. We have been created anew. This is true for every person who is brought into the Catholic church, whether that is at Easter this year, or many years ago. Every Easter we are made new again, through the power of Jesus Christ.
The next reading says:
“Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.”
Every single one of us who have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ can trust these words as the truth, and the gospel reading tells why. The gospel says the women from Galilee went to the tomb at daybreak. They saw that the stone sealing Jesus’s tomb, had been rolled away, and then they saw an angel who said to them:
“Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Behold, I have told you.”
Then, Jesus met the women on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me.”
The birth, life and death of Jesus Christ has no meaning without his resurrection from the dead. Jesus would have been considered an imposture, a fake, a liar, or at best a prophet, but He would not have been recognized as the Son of the living God if it were not for his resurrection from the dead. Jesus physically died, passed through the gates of hell, defeated death itself and was raised to eternal life. There were many people who personally saw Jesus Christ, resurrected from the dead. It is the most talked about event in human history, both in the time of Christ, and over two thousand years later in our modern times as well.
Every single human being that has ever lived is afraid to die. There are some people who are absolutely terrified of dying. We often ask ourselves what is the point of life? But, death is actually our biggest concern. Everyone of us wants to know what happens when we die? Do we just cease to exist? Is heaven and hell real? Is God real?
It is a beautiful thing that Jesus Christ not only died for the forgiveness of our lives, but he also did his best to shatter our fear of death. It isn’t so much what we say in life that matters, but what we actually do. Jesus knew that his words would only go so far in helping us to believe in him. He rose from the dead to physically prove to all of us, that there really is life after death. We were also created for eternal life.
Jesus Christ broke through the barriers of our doubts and our fear of death, when he was raised from the dead on Easter morning. The stone that sealed the tomb of our Lord was merely a door through which He passed into eternal life. Death is but a door that we too shall pass through. There really is no such thing as death. Death does not the final say. Jesus Christ does.
As long as we believe that Jesus Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins, that he rose from the dead to eternal life, so that we too, might live forever, then we will. We need not fear what death has in store for us, because Jesus Christ went ahead of us, to light the way to our Father’s kingdom. This is why He is the Light of the World, the Light of the entire human race. And this is our Easter joy!