This Mass commemorates the moment when Jesus' tomb is found empty.
St. Matthew narrates, “Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre … [an] angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay'” (Matthew 28:1, 5-6).
The Church has commemorated this moment in many ways over the centuries. Initially Christians gathered for an all night vigil, where baptism was administered and many readings were proclaimed. The liturgy began in the middle of the night and ended with the celebration of Mass as the first rays of dawn began to appear.
As the Easter Vigil was shortened and moved earlier on Holy Saturday evening, various places began to hold a tradition of celebrating a Mass at dawn, so that the congregation could unite themselves to the disciples who went to the tomb in the early hours of the morning.
In some countries there is even a tradition to ring the church bells and process through the town at dawn, announcing the Resurrection of Jesus.
The symbolism of this tradition is very clear, as it celebrates the rising of the Son, the true Light of the World at the moment when the rays of the sun begin to shatter the darkness of night.
It is a beautiful tradition and a wonderful way to begin the glorious celebration of Easter.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?