Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer
April 12, 2023 // Bishop

Fifteen Received Into the Church at Cathedral Vigil in Fort Wayne

Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer

Bishop Rhoades baptized several elect and received candidates into full communion with the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on Saturday, April 8.

More photos from the Vigil.

At the beginning of the vigil, Bishop Rhoades prepared the Paschal Candle before a blazing fire outside of the cathedral. Then, Deacon Ryan Timossi carried the candle into the building, leading a procession of people lighting smaller candles. With flickering light illuminating the cathedral’s interior, Deacon Timossi proclaimed the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation).

After several readings and the proclamation of the Gospel, Bishop Rhoades talked about the “Alleluia” and Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice.

“I’d like to begin this homily by inviting you to look at the crucifix. Why would I ask you to look at the crucifix during the Easter Vigil? That was our focus yesterday — Good Friday. In fact, we venerated the crucifix at the liturgy yesterday afternoon. We venerated the cross because, by His Holy Cross, Jesus redeemed the world. The cross of Christ, as Pope St. Leo the Great taught, is the fount of all blessings: the source of all graces. So, it’s still important that we gaze at the cross. But we did not sing ‘alleluia’ yesterday, but we venerated the cross.

“And we didn’t sing it today on Holy Saturday until tonight, before the Gospel was proclaimed. Today, Holy Saturday, we meditated on our Lord’s body lying in the tomb. We reflected on His descent into Hell — or, to be more exact, the descent of Christ’s soul into the underworld: His soul which was separated from His body after His death.”

Bishop Rhoades continued to say that Jesus’ soul descended to those who were deprived of the vision of God like Abraham and Moses, as well as others awaiting their savior.

“Jesus did not descend into Hell to deliver the damned, but to free the just who had come before Him. This descent into Hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. It was the last phase of Jesus’ redemptive mission. Jesus released those who were in the bondage of death. He opened Heaven’s gates for them. But still, we did not sing ‘alleluia.’”

Even during the Easter Vigil, Bishop Rhoades said, the Church reflects on God’s blessings in the Old Testament and the events of Salvation History before singing the ‘alleluia.’

“When the new Passover took place, Jesus is passing from death to life. With His resurrection, Jesus’ human body was reunited with His human soul and was no longer in the tomb. Then we can sing ‘alleluia’ when His humanity, body and soul, was perfectly introduced into the Blessed Trinity. Risen from the dead, Christ’s humanity is no longer confined to earth, nor limited by time and space. He can appear how and where He wills, as He appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary in the Gospel we just heard, and later to the Apostles in various places. Jesus appeared for 40 days with the same body that was crucified and laid in the tomb, but now had the properties of a glorified body.”

Bishop Rhoades contrasted this with the story of Lazarus, saying that Jesus did not simply return to earthly life like Lazarus did. Rather, Jesus passed from the state of death to another life beyond time and space.

“We say ‘alleluia’ at Easter because Jesus, who died and was buried, who descended into hell, truly rose from the dead on the third day. Through His Paschal Mystery, He conquered sin and death. We sing ‘alleluia’ because we now know that evil does not have the last word because the crucified and risen Christ overcame it through the power of merciful love. We wouldn’t have this certainty without the resurrection.”

After the homily, the elect walked to the baptismal font. Bishop Rhoades blessed the water in the font, dipping the Paschal Candle into the water which would be poured over the head of the several elect as they were presented to the bishop and baptized. White garments were given to the newly baptized, as were candles lit from the Paschal Candle.

Catholics gathered at the vigil then renewed their baptismal promises before the candidates were received into full communion with the Church. Following the Rite of Reception, the newly baptized and newly received were confirmed and later received their First Communion.

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