Why do we light a fire in the narthex on Holy Saturday?
Each year, on the night before Easter Sunday, Christians throughout all the world gather together for the most beautiful liturgy of the year: The Easter Vigil. This is the Mass toward which all other Masses throughout the year point. Since we remember Christ’s death on the day immediately prior, we begin this liturgy in complete darkness. All the lights of the church are off because Jesus Christ, the light of the world, has died. The only light that catches the eye will be the flame of a fire outside the church in the narthex. Fire is powerful – it can be extremely dangerous or incredibly useful. It can cause injury to persons and destroy entire forests, but it can also provide heat, light, and purification. Regardless, fire is a symbol of transformation, and that is the ultimate purpose of the Easter Vigil. By entering into the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are transformed from the darkness of sin into newness of life. The priest blesses the fire and lights the Paschal (or Easter) candle from it. The Paschal candle represents Jesus Christ, the light of the world. This candle becomes the source of light for the candles of each of the members of the congregation. As the light spreads from the Paschal candle throughout the whole church, the darkness is gradually dispelled. This is only the beginning of a beautiful celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’d like to invite each of you to join us for our Easter Vigil on April 20 at 8pm to see all that is in store for this night.