We chant those words three times as we enter the church with the lit Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil. The candle stands in the sanctuary for the Easter Season, and is lit whenever there is a baptism or a funeral. This year for the 35th time I am spending Holy Week in prayer for the parish where I serve (these days parishes) by decorating the candles that will be lit at our vigil.
It started when I was associate pastor at Holy Trinity. The parishioner who decorated the candle that was made there moved and, since my original background is in architecture and design, I volunteered. By the time I got to Mother of Good Counsel I asked if we could order a plain candle so that I could continue what had become my way of praying for all who would be baptized and buried during the coming year. The same when I came to SL and SFR. I usually like to pick up elements of the architecture or design of the church building. This year I am using cross patterns and colors from the stained glass at both churches.
But I’m also using language, which is not a usual element. At Archbishop Shelton’s installation I was struck by how the intercessions were each read by a person in their native language, none of them English. So I emailed the Office of Multicultural Ministries and requested a list of the languages spoken by Catholics in the Archdiocese. I received a list of 15 languages apart from English.
There is a traditional greeting for Easter that is especially used in the Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic churches. One person says “Christ is Risen,” and the other replies, “Truly, he is risen.” There is a tradition that at the end of the Easter liturgy that greeting is proclaimed in as many languages as possible, announcing the resurrection to the ends of the earth.
So I worked to get translations of that greeting into all of the languages spoken by Louisville Catholics, and they will decorate our candles. To them I added two languages. Above the cross our candles will carry the complete greeting in Greek, the language it originated in and the English or Chinese of Jesus’ day. Below the cross they will carry the greeting in Church Slavonic. It is the liturgical language of Eastern Europe, and is the way it will be proclaimed in both Ukraine and Russia this Easter. May the light of the resurrection shine forth in all the earth, but most especially in those places where it is darkest.