“Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Christ is truly Risen!”

Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Easter Masses and Reflects on the Joy of Christ’s Resurrection

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, apostolic administrator of Washington, celebrated Easter Masses at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Darkness set in on Good Friday when Jesus suffered and died on the cross ­– a world in darkness without Christ. At the Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 20, in an ancient rite, a fire was lit on the steps of the cathedral to symbolize the resurrection of Christ, the light of the world. As the faithful waited inside the dark church, the cardinal blessed the Paschal candle, and the flame was passed through the congregation until the entire church was slowly illuminated with candles held by people in the pews. As darkness and death were overcome with light and new life, the Exsultet (Easter proclamation) was sung. The same liturgy unfolded in parishes throughout the archdiocese as the resurrection of Christ was proclaimed.

On Saturday evening in the St. Matthew’s Cathedral parish, 14 individuals were welcomed into full communion in the Catholic Church, either as catechumens (who were newly baptized), or as candidates (already-baptized Christians who received Eucharist and Confirmation), or as Catholics completing the sacraments of initiation. Across the Archdiocese of Washington, more than 1,000 adults, teens and children were welcomed into the Catholic Church this year.

The Church uses visible signs to help us see beyond the physical and recognize something far more profound, said Cardinal Wuerl as he began his homily. “With the eyes of faith, what we recognize tonight is nothing less than the passing from darkness and death into light and new life.” The cardinal spoke of the dark church at the start of the vigil Mass, and the beauty of the magnificent cathedral becoming more evident as the darkness dissipated with the light being passed from one person to the next. “Just as we are invited to see in the Paschal candle, the light of Christ, so all of us are invited now to see reality and our lives in the transforming light of Christ,” he said.

“In the light of faith, we can now recognize God as our Father, our oneness together in his Son, Jesus Christ, and our new life, our spiritual life in the grace of the Holy Spirit. We remind ourselves and others of this sacred reality every time we make the sign of the cross,” said the cardinal. As he concluded his homily, he urged the faithful to remember the dim light of the candlelit cathedral and how it gave way to brightness when the lights were fully turned on. “Remember that scene,” he urged, speaking to the catechumens and candidates. All of us have that power in that light to change and transform the world, he said. And as a result of the sacraments, not only is Christ risen, but Christ is risen in us, he said.

Today at St. Matthew’s cathedral to a standing-room-only crowd for the 10:00 AM Mass, and to the faithful gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the Noon Mass, the cardinal echoed the message from his Easter Vigil  homily that the joy of Easter is not just a memory from twenty centuries ago, but rather, it is the faith-filled recognition that Christ has broken the chains of death and done so not only for himself, but also for us, and that we have the power to change the world to make it a better place.