Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here
Start your day in a beautiful way: Subscribe to Aleteia's daily newsletter here.
Sign me up!

Not Prepared to Donate?

Here are 5 ways you can still help Aleteia:

  1. Pray for our team and the success of our mission
  2. Talk about Aleteia in your parish
  3. Share Aleteia content with friends and family
  4. Turn off your ad blockers when you visit
  5. Subscribe to our free newsletter and read us daily
Thank you!
Team Aleteia

Subscribe

Aleteia

Here’s how to celebrate the Easter Vigil at home on Holy Saturday evening

In Harrowing of Hades, fresco in the parecclesion of the Chora Church, Istanbul, c. 1315, raising Adam and Eve is depicted as part of the Resurrection icon, as it always is in the East.
Share

Here you have the prayers, readings, and everything else you need to celebrate with God’s Word.

Aleteia, with the help of Magnificat magazine,
proposes that you sanctify these Easter celebrations
with a celebration of the Word of God at home.

Instructions specific to the Liturgy of light:

  • We should dedicate a good part of Holy Saturday to preparing a truly unforgettable celebration. It’s worth the effort.
  • Ideally, the participants should eat a light dinner, or a simple snack (under a regime of fasting and abstinence) so as to begin the celebration half an hour after sunset.
  • It’s a good idea to plan a festive snack with hot chocolate, pastries, muffins, etc. for after the celebration. It’s the most beautiful celebration of the year. Hallelujah!
  • During these times of confinement, it would not be out of place to open of a bottle of champagne, given the importance of celebrating the definitive victory of Christ, our brother and our God, over the powers of Evil and Death.

Practical considerations:

  • If possible, set aside in different room than the one where the prayer corner is located: a matchbox, a large candle, and one candle per person.
  • Ideally, there should be at least one candle that can last the entire duration of the celebration, to serve as a “paschal candle.”
  • Participants who do not have candles will be able to hold their smartphone, in “airplane” mode and with the lamp lit. They will carry them in their joined hands. A flashlight can also do the trick.
  • In any case, a smartphone with a lighted lamp can be used to read the texts in the dark.
  • Throughout Good Saturday, the prayer corner is kept unadorned, with only the cross, as on Good Friday. However, all the decorations that will be put back in place during the Easter Vigil should be placed next to it: statues, pictures, icons, candles, flowers, etc. To increase the festive character, you can prepare children’s drawings, paper flowers, decorated eggs, etc. to include in the decoration of the space; and even—why not—beautiful golden Christmas garlands can be added.
  • Well in advance, the person designated to lead the celebration will carefully take note of the practical indications given here and throughout the liturgy (see below). This will prevent any doubts or improvisation in the course of the liturgy.
  • Try to find a small bell to ring during the recitation of the Gloria. If no bell is found, you can search on your smartphone for the natural sound of the bells and, you can make the available smartphones ring before and after the Gloria.
  • You can either print this guide or use your mobile, tablet, laptop, or pc during the celebration.

For those with access to a yard or garden:

  • In a place where there is no risk of the fire spreading, prepare a brazier or a large bowl. In it, place paper, some twigs, and some pieces of dry wood.
  • It’s not recommended to make a large fire. If the weather is windy, it is better not to light the fire.
  • You should have a bucket of water and a blanket nearby in case you have to put out the fire.

General instructions:

  • This celebration requires the presence of at least two people.
  • If you’re alone, it is better to simply read the readings and prayers of the Mass of the day in your missal or watch the Mass on television.
  • This celebration is particularly suitable for use with family. In order to respect quarantine measures, you should refrain from inviting others from outside your household. If anyone in your house is ill, make sure they remain in isolation to ensure that all safety guidelines are strictly followed.
  • Set up the needed number of chairs in front of a prayer corner, respecting distance between them.
  • A simple cross or crucifix must always be visible in the background.
  • Designate a person to lead the prayer.
  • The leader also directs the preparation of the celebration, and will also determine the length of the periods of silence during the same.
  • Designate readers for the readings.
  • Prepare appropriate hymns.

EASTER VIGIL

I am the resurrection and the Life. Do you believe this?”

All the lights in the house should be off.
The participants gather either around the newly lit fire or where the candles have been prepared.

The leader of the celebration reads:

Brothers and sisters,
on this most holy night
when our Lord Jesus Christ passed from death to life,
the Church invites all her children scattered throughout the world
to gather to watch and pray.

Sadly, we are prevented from gathering.
We are not able to take part in the Liturgy of the Light
and the celebration of the Eucharist.

Nevertheless, we know that when
we gather to pray in his name,
Christ is very present among us,
and we believe that when we read his Word in the Church,
it is the Word of God himself speaking to us.
His word is then true nourishment for our lives.

That is why we are going to commemorate together
the Lord’s Resurrection, listening to his Word of Life.
We’re going to do this
in the hope of sharing in his triumph over death.
and living with him forever in God.

Pause

In communion of heart and spirit with the whole Church,
let us celebrate the Light of Christ
and let us listen to his saving Word.

After a moment of silence, all rise and make the Sign of the Cross, saying:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

LITURGY OF LIGHT

If there is no fire, leader of the celebration lights the candle that will serve as a “paschal candle” and holds it in his hand. Or, if there really is no other possibility, he lights the lamp on his smartphone.

If there is a fire, he waits until the end of the prayer of blessing to light his candle.

PRAYER OF BLESSING

The leader, with hands joined, says the following prayer:

O God, who through your Son
bestowed upon the faithful the fire of your glory,
deign to sanctify this new fire, we pray,
and grant that,
by these paschal celebrations,
we may be so inflamed with heavenly desires,
that with minds made pure
we may attain festivities of unending splendor.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

If there is a fire, the “paschal candle” is lit at the new fire.
In any case, while carrying the lit “paschal candle”, the guide says:

May the light of Christ rising in glory
dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

All together repeat:

May the light of Christ rising in glory
dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

ACCLAMATION AND PROCESSION

The parable of the bridesmaids recounts: “At midnight a cry was heard, ‘Behold the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’” It is the same at the Easter Vigil. The great news of the Resurrection bursts out in the night: “Light of Christ!”

Still carrying the “paschal candle,” the leader of the celebration cries out in a loud voice:

The light of Christ!
And all reply:
Thanks be to God.

The guide lights the candles of the other participants with his candle.
Or, everyone turns on the lamp on their smartphone and carries it with their hands together, at chest level.

As far as possible, all go in procession from the outdoor area where the fire is burning, or from the room where we took the candles, to the prayer corner. On arrival, the acclamation is repeated twice in succession:

The light of Christ!
Thanks be to God.

All remain standing, with their candles or lamps lit.

EXSULTET

The Exsultet, in either of its two forms (the full form or the shorter form), cannot be replaced by another form of proclamation, because it transmits “what we have received from tradition,” in the words of St. Paul. Here, we recommend the shorter form

The person most gifted for this will read or sing the verses, with all his heart and breath.

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We lift them up to the Lord.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is right and just.

It is truly right and just, with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.
Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out his own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,
whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,
when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children,
from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night
that even now, throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night,
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.

O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!

O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault
that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honor of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.

Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.

May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

The lit Paschal candle is placed in the prayer corner in an appropriate and safe manner. Do not forget to extinguish it at the end of the celebration.

Each one extinguishes his or her light and all sit down.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

“The Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land.”

A reading from the book of Exodus (Ex 14:15—15:1)

The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the Israelites to go forward.

And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land.

But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.

Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.

The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.”

The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp,
now moved and went around behind them.

The column of cloud also, leaving the front,
took up its place behind them,
so that it came between the camp of the Egyptians
and that of Israel.

But the cloud now became dark, and thus the night passed
without the rival camps coming any closer together
all night long.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and the LORD swept the sea
with a strong east wind throughout the night
and so turned it into dry land.

When the water was thus divided,
the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.

The Egyptians followed in pursuit;
all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and charioteers went after them
right into the midst of the sea.

In the night watch just before dawn
the LORD cast through the column of the fiery cloud
upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic;
and he so clogged their chariot wheels
that they could hardly drive.

With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel,
because the LORD was fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the LORD told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea,
that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians,
upon their chariots and their charioteers.”

So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.

The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea,
when the LORD hurled them into its midst.

As the water flowed back,
it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh’s whole army
which had followed the Israelites into the sea.

Not a single one of them escaped.
But the Israelites had marched on dry land
through the midst of the sea,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.

Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day
from the power of the Egyptians.

When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore
and beheld the great power that the LORD
had shown against the Egyptians,
they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

All sing or say the response of the psalm immediately after the reading.

R/ Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

The reader then reads the verses and all repeat the refrain.

PSALM

(EX 15:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18)

I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
He is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him.

R/ Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

The LORD is a warrior,
LORD is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea.

R/ Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy.

R/ Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

You brought in the people you redeemed
and planted them on the mountain of your inheritance
the place where you made your seat, O LORD,
the sanctuary, LORD, which your hands established.
The LORD shall reign forever and ever.

R/ Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

All stand, and the leader says the following prayer:

PRAYER

O God, who by the light of the New Testament
have unlocked the meaning
of wonders worked in former times,
so that the Red Sea prefigures the sacred font
and the nation delivered from slavery
foreshadows the Christian people,
grant, we pray, that all nations,
obtaining the privilege of Israel by merit of faith,
may be reborn by partaking of your Spirit.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

To mark the passage in the celebration from the Old to the New Testament, the Gloria is sung or said. If a small bell is available, it should be rung throughout the Gloria. Otherwise, smartphones may be rung (with the pre-selected bell sound) before the beginning and after the end of the Gloria.

Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
Laudámus te, benedícimus te,
adoramus te, glorificámus te,
gratias agimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis, Deus Pater omnípotens.
Dómine Fili Unigénite, Jesu Christe,
Dómine Deus, Agnus Dei, Fílius Patris,
qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis;
qui tollis peccáta mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.
Quóniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dóminus,
tu solus Altíssimus, Jesu Christe,
cum Sancto + Spíritu: in glória Dei Patris.
Amen.

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you, we bless you,
we adore you, we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory.
Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

All are seated.

EPISTLE (Rom 6:3-11)

“Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more.”

A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Romans

Brothers and sisters:
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.

We know that our old self was crucified with him,
so that our sinful body might be done away with,
that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.

For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.

We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.

As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

PSALM (Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23)

For the refrain, all sing together a triumphant Alleluia.
The reader reads or sings the verses.

R/  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”

R/  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.

R/  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.

R/  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

GOSPEL (Mt 28:1-10)

“He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee”

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.

His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.

The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.

Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“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 they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them 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.”

At the end of the Gospel, all sing or say again the joy of the Resurrection:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

All sit down.

The leader repeats slowly, as if it were a deep and far-off echo:

“I am the resurrection and the Life.
Do you believe this?”

All observe three minutes of silence for silent personal meditation.

RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL PROMISES

Easter night is usually marked by adult baptisms, which this year will not take place. However, it is also the night when we renewal of our profession of faith in memory of our baptism. You may sing or recite the litany of the saints, those men and women who lived the faith and passed it on to us as an inheritance. You may add the patron saints of the members of your family, present and absent, and those of your loved ones who are known to be ill at this time. 

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

Saint Michael, and all Holy Angels of God, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, and Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Saint Andrew, and Saint John, pray for us.

Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

Saint Stephen, St Ignatius of Antioch, and Saint Lawrence, pray for us.

Saint Perpetua, Saint Felicity, and Saint Agnes, pray for us.

Saint Gregory, Saint Augustine, and Saint Athanasius, pray for us.

Saint Basil, Saint Martin, and Saint Benedict, pray for us.

Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, pray for us.

Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us.

Saint John Vianney, pray for us.

Saint Catherine of Siena, and Saint Teresa of Jesus, pray for us.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, pray for us.

Here, you add the patron saints of your family members.

All holy men and women, Saints of God, pray for us.

All stand.

The leader invites all those present to renew their baptismal promises. 

Dear brethren,
through the Paschal Mystery we have been buried with Christ in Baptism,
that we may walk with him in newness of life.
And so, let us renew the promises of Holy Baptism,
which we once renounced Satan and his works
and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church.
And so I ask you:

Do you renounce sin,
so as to live in the freedom of the children of God? I do.

Do you renounce the lure of evil,
so that sin may have no mastery over you? I do.

Do you renounce Satan,
the author and prince of sin? I do.

Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth? I do.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death
and was buried, rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father? I do.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? I do.

And may almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit
and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins,
keep us by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord,
for eternal life. Amen.

The leader then introduces the Lord’s Prayer:

United in the Spirit and in the communion of the Church,
we dare to pray as the Lord Jesus himself
taught us:

All say or sing the Our Father:
Our Father…
Continuing immediately with:
For the kingdom…

Then the leader invites those present to share a sign of peace:

We have just joined our voices
with that of the Lord Jesus to pray to the Father.
We are sons and daughters in the Son.
In the love that unites us with one another,
renewed by the word of God,
we can exchange a gesture of peace,
a sign of the communion
we receive from the Lord.

All then exchange a greeting of peace from a distance:
for example, by bowing deeply towards each other in turn;
or, as a family, by blowing each other a kiss.

Then all sit down.

SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

The leader says:

When we cannot receive sacramental communion
for lack of a Mass, Pope Francis
urges us to practice spiritual communion,
also called “communion of desire.”

The Council of Trent reminds us that this
“consists in an ardent desire to feed on the Heavenly Bread,
with a living faith that acts through charity
and that makes us participants in the fruits and graces of the Sacrament.”

The value of our spiritual communion
depends therefore on our faith in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist
as a source of life, love and unity,
and our desire to receive Communion
in spite of our inability to do so.

In this spirit, I invite you now to bow your head,
and close your eyes to focus on Christ.

Silence

Deep in our hearts,
let us allow the burning desire to unite ourselves
with Jesus in sacramental communion
to rise within us,
and then may we bring his love into our lives,
by loving others as he loved us.

All remain in silence for 5 minutes for a heart-to-heart conversation with Jesus Christ.

You may optionally stand and say or sing a beautiful Alleluia once more:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

All remain standing, turning to face the Cross of Christ. With hands joined in prayer, the prayer leader, in the name of all, says the prayer of blessing:

FINAL BLESSING

May almighty God bless us
through today’s Easter Solemnity
and, in his compassion,
defend us from every assault of sin. Amen.

And may he, who restores us to eternal life
in the Resurrection of his Only Begotten Son,
endow us with the prize of immortality. Amen.

Now that the days of the Lord’s Passion have drawn to a close,
may us who celebrate the gladness of the Paschal Feast
come with Christ’s help, and exulting in spirit,
to those feasts that are celebrated in eternal joy. Amen.

All together, each with hands joind in prayer:

And may the blessing of almighty God,
come down on us and remain with us for ever. Amen.

All make the Sign of the Cross.

Then parents may trace the Sign of the Cross on their children’s foreheads. 

To conclude the celebration, you may sing the Regina Caeli,
or some other well-known joyful Marian hymn..

Regína caéli, lætáre, Allelúia!
Quia quem meruísti portáre, Allelúia!
Resurréxit, sicut dixit, Allelúia!
Ora pro nóbis Déum, Allelúia!

O Queen of heaven rejoice! Alleluia!
For He whom thou didst merit to bear, Alleluia!
Hath arisen as he said, Alleluia!
Pray for us to God, Alleluia!

Don’t forget to blow out the paschal candle in the prayer corner.

*

*       *

To continue to sanctify the Resurrection of the Lord, Aleteia will propose to you tomorrow a celebration of the Word for Easter Sunday.

Starting on Easter Monday, we will propose daily guides for celebrations at home, to help you continue to sanctify the Easter season, despite any obstacles, for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.

You can also find other resources for free on the Magnificat website.

Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.
Aleteia offers you this space to comment on articles. This space should always reflect Aleteia values.
[See Comment Policy]