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tual death to the life of grace. There was no other Vigil in the whole Year, which was so solemnly observed as this: but it lost a great portion of its interest, when the necessity of baptising Adults was removed by Christianity having triumphed wheresoever it had been preached. The Orientals have kept up the ancient tradition to this day : but, in the West, dating from the 11th century, the Mass of the Resurrection Hour has been gradually anticipated, until it has been brought even to the morning of Holy Saturday. Durandus of Menda, who wrote his Rational of the Divine Offices, towards the close of the 13th century, tells us, that in his time, there were very few Churches which observed the primitive custom: even these soon conformed to the general practice of the Latin Church.

As a result of this change, there is an apparent contradiction between the mystery of Holy Saturday and the Divine Service which is celebrated upon it; Christ is still in the Tomb, and yet we are celebrating his Resurrection : the hours preceding Mass are mournful,—and before mid-day, the paschal joy will have filled our hearts. We will conform to the present order of the Holy Liturgy, thus entering into the spirit of the Church, who has thought proper to give her children a foretaste of the joys of Easter. We will give a general view of the solemn Service, at wbich we are going to assist; afterwards, we will explain each portion, as it comes.

The great object of the whole of to-day's Service, and the centre to which every one of the ceremonies converges,—is the Baptism of the Catechumens. The Faithful must keep this incessantly before them, or they will be at a loss how to understand or profit by the Liturgy of to-day. First of all, there is the Blessing of the new Fire, and the Incense. This is followed by the Blessing of the Paschal Candle. Immediately after this, are read the Twelve Pro

phecies, which have reference to the mysteries of today's Service. As soon as the Prophecies are finished, a procession is formed to the Baptistery, and the Water is blessed. The matter of Baptism thus prepared, the Catechumens receive the Sacrament of Regeneration. Confirmation is then administered to them by the Bishop. Immediately after this, the Holy Sacrifice is celebrated in honour of our Lord's Resurrection, and the Neophytes partake of the Divine Mysteries. Finally, the joyous Vesper-Office comes in, and brings to a termination the longest and most trying Service of the Latin Liturgy. In order to assist our readers to enter fully into its spirit, we will go back a thousand years, and imagine ourselves

, to be celebrating this solemn Eve of Easter in one of the ancient Cathedrals of Italy, or of our own dear land.

At Rome, the Station is at Saint John Lateran, the Mother and Mistress of all Churches. The Sacrament of Regeneration is administered in the Baptistery of Constantine. The sight of these venerable Sanctuaries carries us back in thought to the 4th century; there, each year, holy Baptism is conferred upon some adult; and a numerous Ordination adds its own to the sacred pomp of this day, whose liturgy, as we have just said, is the richest of the whole year.

THE BLESSING OF THE NEW FIRE AND INCENSE.

Last Wednesday, the Catechumens were told to present themselves at the Church, for the hour of to-day's Tierce, (that is, nine o'clock in the morning). It is the final Scrutiny. The Priests are there to receive them; they who have not previously been examined upon the Symbol, are now questioned. The Lord's Prayer, and the biblical attributes of the four Evangelists, having been explained, one of the Priests dismisses the Candidates for Baptism,

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bidding them spend the interval in recollection and prayer.

At the hour of None, (our three o'clock in the afternoon, the Bishop and all the Clergy repair to the Church, and Holy Saturday Vigil begins from this moment. The first ceremony consists in the blessing

. the new fire, which is to furnish light for the whole Service. It was the daily custom, in the first Ages of the Church, to strike a light from a flint, before Vespers : from this the lamps and candles were lighted for the celebration of that Hour, and the light thus procured was kept up in the Church till the Vespers of the following day. The Church of Rome observed this custom with great solemnity on Maundy Thursday morning, and the new fire received a special blessing. We learn from a letter written, in the 8th century, by Pope St. Zachary to St. Boniface, Archbishop of Mayence,—that three lamps were lighted from this fire, which were then removed to some safe place, and care was taken that their light was kept in. It was from these lamps that the light for Holy Saturday Night was taken. In the following century, under St. Leo the Fourth, whose Pontificate lasted from 847 to 855, the custom of every day procuring new fire from a flint was extended also to Holy Saturday.

It is not difficult to understand the meaning of this ceremony, which is now not observed by the Latin Church save on this day. Our Lord said of himself: I am the Light of the world. Light, then, is an image of the Son of God. Stone, also, is one of the types under which the Scriptures speak to us of the Messias. St. Peter? and St. Paul, quoting the words of the Prophet Isaias, * speak of Jesus as the Corner-Stone. The spark which is struck from the

3

i St. John, viii. 12.

I. St. Peter, ii. 6.

3 Eph. ii. 20.
4 Is. xxviii. 16.

flint represents our Lord rising from his rock-hewn Sepulchre, through the Stone that had been rolled against it.

It is fitting, therefore, that this fire, which is to provide light for the Paschal Candle, as well as for those that are upon the Altar, should receive a special blessing, and be triumphantly shown to the Faithful. All the Lamps in the Church have been extinguished; formerly, the Faithful used to put out the fires in their houses, before going to the Church : they lighted them, on their return, with light taken from the blessed Fire, which they received as a symbol of our Lord's Resurrection. Let us not here omit to notice, that the putting out of all the lights in the Church is a symbol of the abrogation of the Old Law, which ended with the rending of the Veil of the Temple; and that the new Fire represents the preaching of the New Law, whereby our Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, fulfilled all the figures of the ancient Covenant.

In order to help our readers to enter more fully into the mystery of the ceremony we are describing, we will here mention a miracle which was witnessed for many centuries. The clergy and people of Jerusalem assembled for the Service of Easter Eve in the Church of Holy Sepulchre. After waiting for some time in silence, one of the lamps that were suspended over our Lord's Tomb, was miraculously lighted. The other lamps and torches throughout the Church were lighted from this, and the Faithful took its holy flame with them to their homes. It would seem, that this annual miracle first began after the Saracens had taken possession of Jerusalem; God so ordaining, that it might be a proof to these Infidels of the Divinity of the Christian Religion. The historians of those times, who have written upon the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, all speak of this miracle as of an incontestable fact; and when Pope Urban the Second went to France, there to preach the first Crusade, he brought forward this Miracle as one of the motives, which should inspire the Faithful with zeal for the defence of the Sepulchre of Christ. When our Lord, in the unsearchable ways of his justice, permitted Jerusalem to be re-conquered by the Infidels, the Miracle ceased, nor has it ever been witnessed from that time. Our readers have no doubt heard of the scandalous scene, which is now repeated every Holy Saturday in the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem: we allude to the deception practised by the schismatic Greek Priests, whereby they persuade their deluded people that their ingenious trick for lighting a lamp is the continuation of the Miracle.

The Church also blesses the five grains of Incense, which are to be used in this Morning's Service. They represent the perfumes prepared by Magdalene and her holy companions for the embalming the Body of Jesus. The Prayer said by the Bishop, when blessing the Incense, not only shows us the connection there is between it and the Light, but it also teaches us what is the power these several sacred objects have against the wicked spirits.

The Bishop and his attendants go, in procession, from the Church to the place where he is to bless the Fire and Incense. The Fire, as we have already said, is the symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the Sepulchre, whence he is to rise to life, is outside the walls of Jerusalem. The holy Women and the Apostles, when they go to the Sepulchre, will have to go forth from the City.

The Bishop, having come to the appointed place, blesses the Fire by the following Prayers.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
Rs. Et cum spiritu tuo.

OREMUS.
Deus, qui per Filium tu-

LET US PRAY.
O God, who by thy Son, the

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