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Archbishop George J. Lucas baptizes Dominic Hytrek of St. Cecilia Parish as his sponsor and fellow parishioner, Jared Baxter, stands by with a towel during the March 31 Easter Vigil at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. PHOTO BY ROBERT ERVIN FOR THE CATHOLIC VOICE

Making all things new

“O truly blessed night, when things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human.” From the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) recited at the Easter Vigil. 
 
In a darkened St. Cecilia Cathedral March 31 in Omaha, Archbishop George J. Lucas blessed the fire burning in a gold cauldron and the paschal candle was lit, symbolizing Christ’s light overcoming the darkness and marking the beginning of the Easter Vigil.
 
Light from the paschal candle was shared, first with one person, who shared it with another, until all in the congregation held candles lit against the darkness.
 
And after three readings from the Old Testament and chanting of responsorial psalms, the Gloria was sung, bells rang out joyfully from the choir, lights went up and candles were lit at the altar and throughout the cathedral.
 
Similar actions highlighted Easter Vigils in parishes across the archdiocese, along with baptisms, confirmations and first Communions as people were welcomed into full communion with the church.
 
That number included two children baptized by Archbishop Lucas at the cathedral, and 10 people he confirmed. The two children and three of those confirmed also received their first Communion.
 
In his homily, the archbishop noted the importance of the baptismal vows for the newly baptized and for everyone else present, as they had the opportunity to renew them.
 
“Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?” the archbishop queried during his homily, asking several of the same questions posed during the baptism ceremony. “It’s a pretty important question,” he said.
 
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, born of the Virgin Mary?” the archbishop asked. “Do you believe he rose from the dead? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? Do you believe in the resurrection of the body? Do you believe in life everlasting?”
 
The archbishop said those questions can help reorient lives to conform more closely with Christ’s will. “Temptations and sin have disoriented us,” he said. “We’ve twisted ourselves” around so much trying to justify sins that “we are lost,” he said.
 
But Christ’s light shines through the darkness of sin, dispels confusion and shines on his people, the archbishop said.
 
And everyone can be saved, if they consent, and act on Christ’s will, Archbishop Lucas said, quoting St. Augustine’s statement that “he who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.”
 
“Will we accept this gift?” the archbishop asked. “Will we give our consent?”
 
Because God gives people the choice: death or life with him, darkness or light, he said.
 
“There is more to this world than we can know, more than we can control,” the archbishop said. “We can so easily get lost. But we don’t want to be lost. We want to be saved. What can we do, but trust God? Put our faith in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
 

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