The Easter Vigil
It marks the beginning of the season of Easter and the closing of Lent.
The Blessing of the Fire
Done on the outside the church doors, the fire symbolizes Jesus' as the guiding light, the only true light by which we are guided to the Father.
The fire that was blessed is then used to light up the Paschal Candle after a long rite wherein the symbols of the candle are interpreted. The fire is then used to light the candles of the faithful after entering the dark church, devoid of any man-made light.
After several readings from the Bible showing God's saving grace, power and might the lights of the church is then turned on as the large violet cloth covering the main altar is then removed to show the image of the resurrected Christ.
Jesus is Alive. The gospel reading then shows how Mary of Magdala and her companions found the empty tomb. The mass is a celebration of God's power and saving grace, His triumph over sin and death and the ultimate salvation that He offers to all of humankind.
The Blessing of the Water
The priest then dips the paschal candle, the symbol of the resurrected Christ, into a jar of water which is then used for the baptism and the blessing of the people and the images. This is the rite of the blessing of the water wherein the water is then turned into Holy Water, a symbol of how God washes away all sin just as water washes away dirt.
People who want to enter the fold of Catholicism then are baptized with the same holy water as they are welcomed into the Catholic family.
The image of the risen Christ will be, later on, be used in the yearly dawn practice of the Salubong, the re-enactment of the meeting Jesus and His sorrowful mother.
The banners of the church are changed from the mournful violet of lent to the joyful and glorious gold, yellow and green of Easter.
The mixed scent of candles, incense and the morning dew wakes the people up - the Salubong has begun. Salubong is the pre-dawn practice of the procession of the risen Lord and His sorrowful mother and the re-enactment of their meeting. Male and females are separated from each other, with the men of the town going behind the image of Jesus and with the womenfolk accompanying the mourning Mary.
The procession ends with the images and the two groups coming face-to-face with each other and with the removal of the black veil of Mary to reveal the image of the new face of Mary: that of one that has seen the face of her risen son and a joy that marks her relief and rejoicing. The image, now called the Virgen de Alegria after the ceremony, is then showered with petals along with that of the image of the risen Christ.
The floats then are turned off, the lights shut down as the dawn mass is said inside the church. And with that ends the lenten season.
A series of notes and pictures on the traditions and practices of the Filipino Roman Catholic during the Holy Week. No copyrights on all of the photos. Taken at the Imus Cathedral on the respective dates.