Apr. 15, 2023 02:26 PM
The image of the Risen Christ as the Gloria is sang in exaltation of the triumphant resurrection of Jesus from death (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
In unity with the entire Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. Rufino C. Sescon, Jr., Rector and Parish Priest, presided over his first Easter Vigil Mass with his parochial vicars and attached priests at 8:00 o’clock in the evening of March 7, 2023, at the Quiapo Church. According to the Roman Missal of the Catholic Church, the celebration is considered the noblest and greatest among all the solemnities. Thus, there is only one mass permitted to celebrate in every church.
The blessing of the Paschal Candle by Rev. Fr. Rufino C. Sescon Jr. (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The celebration has four parts: The first part is the Lucenarium or the Solemn Beginning of the Vigil. In this part, the blessing of fire is done in a suitable place outside the church. At the same time, it is the preparation of the Paschal candle to be lit with the inscription of the alpha and omega that describes Christ on it with the saying, “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” The Easter Proclamation or Exsúltet is also made in this part through singing. Fr. Hans Magdurulang, Parochial Vicar, assigned to sing Exsúltet in Filipino entitled “Magalak.”
Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang, Parochial Vicar, leads the singing of Exsúltet (in Filipino, ‘Magalak’) together with the community of faithfuls (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The second part is the Liturgy of the Word. Since this celebration serves as the mother of all vigils, there were nine readings provided, seven of which come from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament, an Epistle (Romans 6:3-11), and a Gospel (Matthew 28:1-10). All of these readings, except the Gospel, have the corresponding psalms sung by cantors and prayers recited by Fr. Sescon, Jr. as the presider.
Assigned readers and psalmists during the Liturgy of the Word (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
In the sermon of Fr. Sescon, Jr., he quoted a part of his homily from the book of Genesis when God made everything good (Genesis 1:31). However, he continued by asking the faithful:
Rev. Fr. Sescon Jr. delivers his homily to the people (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
“Pero ano ang ginawa natin? Nagkasala tayo. Nakalimot tayo. Matigas ang ulo natin. Nagsarili tayo. Hinayaan nating gapusin tayo ng kasalanan.”(“What have we done? We sinned. We forgot. We are stubborn. We got independent. We let ourselves be the bondage of sins.”)
Hence, the parting message in his homily invites the faithful to allow Jesus the Nazarene to free them from anything that keeps them from sinning. And this is precisely why Jesus intentionally left his linen cloth at his tomb to convey to everyone that he is indeed risen and proves that nobody had taken his dead body anywhere. Further, this is to tell everybody that Jesus no longer needs the mantel of the world, for the grace and mercy of God have already covered him.
Like Jesus the Nazarene who left his linen clothing at his tomb, Fr. Sescon, Jr. is challenging everyone by saying:
“Kung papaano sana na iniwan ni Hesus Nazareno yung kayong lino sa kanyang libingan, pwede rin bang iwan na natin kay Hesus Nazareno yung mga nagpapaalipin sa atin?” (Like Jesus who left his linen cloth at his tomb, can we also leave to Jesus everything that enslaves us?”)
The Paschal Candle beside pulpit where Rev. Fr. Sescon Jr. delivers his homily (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM)w
And for Fr. Sescon, Jr., this is why many of the faithful are perplexed and lost. And so, the faithful must listen to the very words of Jesus on this special occasion to free themselves, to live righteously, and to accept the grace and light of Jesus.
Thus, as they leave the church and face the risen Lord, offer to Him their own linen cloths that cover, darken, and kill their relationships with God, family, and self.
The third part is the Baptismal Liturgy, wherein the Quiapo church is blessed to welcome eight new adult members of the Catholic Church by virtue of the Sacrament of Baptism, who, at the same time, received the Sacrament of Confirmation afterward. As part of the liturgy, right after the baptism and confirmation rites were completed, the rite of the renewal of baptismal promises among the congregation followed.
Adult Baptism rites (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
Then the fourth and last is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where the miracle of transubstantiation happens through the bread and wine, turning into the real body and blood of the Risen Christ. The Easter Vigil Mass in the Quiapo Church lasted for three hours and forty-eight minutes, with approximately seven hundred mass-goers attended.
Altar servers and the community of faithfuls kneeling in front of the altar (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
Lastly, the rite of the traditional encounter of the Sorrowful Mother Mary and the Risen Christ followed and was held at the Plaza Miranda, which was presided over by Rev. Fr. Earl Allyson Valdez, attached priest in the Quiapo Church. A beautiful fireworks display concluded the long celebration as a form of celebration to embrace a new beginning with the Risen Christ.
– Alfrein O. Quirionez | EIAM & ADRM
The traditional Salubong 2023 procession at the Plaza Miranda (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)