After the draining experience of Thursday and Friday , I hoped that at the Easter Vigil I would stumble on the joy of the Resurrection, in the way the women had done when they went to anoint Jesus’ body. Having not been to a vigil for a few years a flood of memories came back to me:

The vigil at Lincoln when Neil was training, our first dawn mass. We stumbled, bleary eyed down a road covered with frost and tripped our way down the dark college garden. Behind the tall hedge the hill dropped away and we could see the lights of the cathedral city below us and a huge bonfire was already burning. We processed with our candles to St Micheal and All angels, near by. The church was slowly lit, not by electric light but by the rising sun. As it shone brighter, candles were slowly extinguished.

Neil’s first vigil as an Anglican priest, which saw drizzle and strong winds. There were several attempts to light the fire, one of which was ended by a huge gust of wind, which turned the fire into a cloud of smoke and enveloped all the people around the door.

Dawn services in the hall at Christ Church a tired choir filing into the hall.  Returning to the hall after mass for cooked breakfast.

Tonight, I was struck by both the power and the simplicity of the new fire and the liturgy that goes with it. Aschenbrenner’s quote came back to me. I had walked around, feeling hollow, worn out by the Triduum so far. But somewhere on the path outside St Agnes I felt the ‘wind’ begin to rustle. Little fragments of joy could be felt. As the Pascal candle was carried down the aisle, as small candles were lit, the light coming through the windows onto the path began to get stronger. As the liturgy continued, with the Exultet, Bible readings and the Eucharist, I felt the Resurrection joy build in me as the light had done in the church.

Then I remembered another of Aschenbrenner’s quotes that I love:

“His joy is not something merely psychological. It is not simple that of someone dead who now is breathing again, nor is it the joy of an ambassador whose mission is completed. Because his heart has been with an infinity of love for us, the risen Jesus is flooded with joy because his love can be received again.”

As I re-read this again tonight my eye was drawn to further down the page:

“ The risen Jesus always comes to console his followers. For Ignatius consolation is much more than a matter of cheering up someone. It involves calling that person again into the glorious vision glowing in the heart of the Trinity”

This joy, mingled with relief, has begun in me tonight. Christ is risen! Alleluia!