Pope presides over trimmed Easter Vigil service

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Pope Francis leads Easter vigil service in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican Saturday, March 30, 2013. Pope Francis is celebrating a trimmed back Easter Vigil service after having reached out to Muslims and women during a Holy Week in which he has begun to put his mark on the Catholic Church. Francis processed into a darkened and silent St. Peter’s Basilica at the start of the Saturday service, which recalls the period between Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter Sunday. AP

VATICAN CITY— Pope Francis celebrated a trimmed back Easter Vigil service Saturday after having reached out to Muslims and women during a Holy Week in which he began to put his mark on the Catholic Church.

Francis processed into a darkened and silent St. Peter’s Basilica at the start of the service, in which the faithful recall the period between Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter Sunday.

One of the most dramatic moments of the Easter Vigil service that usually follows — when the pope would share the light of his candle with others until the entire basilica twinkled — was shortened this year as were some of the Old Testament readings.

The Vatican has said these provisions were in keeping with Francis’ aim to not have his Masses go on too long. The Easter Vigil service under Benedict XVI frequently would typically run nearly three hours. The new pope has made clear he prefers his Masses short and to the point: he was even caught checking his watch during his March 19 installation ceremony.

A trimmed-back vigil — and one that started earlier than usual — was just one of the novelties of this Holy Week under an Argentine Jesuit pope who just two weeks ago stunned the world by emerging from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica after his election with a simple “Brothers and sisters, good evening.”

He riled traditionalists but endeared himself to women and liberals by washing and kissing the feet of two young girls during a Holy Thursday Mass at a juvenile detention center in Rome, when the rite usually calls for only men to participate. A day later, Francis reached out with friendship to “Muslim brothers and sisters” during a Good Friday procession dedicated to the suffering of Christians from terrorism, war and religious fanaticism in the Middle East.

In his homily Saturday, Francis kept his message simple and tied to the liturgical readings, recalling how Jesus’ disciples found his tomb empty a day after his death and were surprised and confused.

“Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness, and that is where death is,” he said. “Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life!”

He later baptized four men, part of the Easter Vigil ritual.

Just a few hours after the vigil ends, Francis on Sunday will celebrate Easter Mass and deliver his “Urbi et Orbi” speech, Latin for “To the city and the world.” Usually the pope also issues Easter greetings in dozens of languages.

In his two weeks as pope, Francis’ discomfort with speaking in any language other than Italian has become apparent. He has even shied away from speaking Spanish when the occasion would call for it, though the Vatican has said he has done so to avoid discriminating against other languages by favoring his native tongue.

Italian is the lingua franca of the Vatican and Francis has emphasized his role as bishop of Rome over that of pope of the universal church, making his use of Italian logical.

It’s not clear how Francis will handle the multilingual greetings Sunday.

Typically, after the busy Easter week ceremonies, the pope would go to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo for a few days of vacation. Francis can’t do that since the previous pope, Benedict XVI, is currently living there in retirement.

The Vatican has said Francis would stay put in the Vatican.

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  • shots_fired

    Matthew 12:40: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

    Then christ still stressed out on Matthew 12:39

    He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

    Then why does the catholic version of the Resurrection of christ does not fit the 3 Days and 3 Nights that christ said? But many believed this so much? why? because many people hear what they only wanted to hear, and that is not right . . Research more on this stuffs and dont be blinded, also research on the connection of eggs,rabbits to christ ressurection . . it is just a pagan originated feast.

    • dann0409

      what do you mean by caholic version?

      • shots_fired

        catholic version meaning sarili nilang version ng Resurrection ni jesus. Jesus Died on the wednesday and Resurrected On the Sabbath(the seventh day) which is saturday Count that as 3days and 3 nights Note that the catholic version christ died on friday and rose on sunday, wait what? how can 3 days and 3 nights fit to friday – sunday?? seems odd.

        WHy because the catholics at the time of creating this holiday knew about the seventh day sabbath, but what they do not know is that other feast Of God are also Called sabbath. So when they heard the word sabbath they knew it was saturday.

    • http://twitter.com/erncastillo ern

      do not be too literal my friend. 3 days 3 nights could mean few days. There was no timekeeper to say that the prophesy was accurate.

      Pag sinabi ng nanay mo ang tagal mo…sampung oras ka na dyan….hindi naman talaga sampung oras yun….ibig sabihin lang sobra ka matagal.

      • shots_fired

        hahah your right But take note kung sinong nagsasalita, hindi normal na tao, kundi si Jesus, kung sinabi niyang 3 days and 3 nights siya at hindi pala nangyari then he is a liar, and cannot keep his word, think about that.

        And to qoute from you saying that the prophesy was not accurate, then that is blasphemy you are trying to say that jesus did not keep his word that he stressed so many times, what i am trying to pinpoint is that the catholic so called resurrection day is wrong.

        At wag mong masasasabing not accurate at walang time keeper kasi nung sinabi ni jesus before the rooster crows you(speaking to peter) will deny me three times, so clear na time tracked talaga sila, pati ang mga disciples has tracked the time, mababasa mo sa bible, kung nagbabasa ka.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.ng.731 James Ng

    The implied distinction between the role of ‘bishop of Rome’ and ‘pope of the universal church’ is misleading and, in Catholic understanding, simply non-existent. The person occupying the papal throne exercises his universal authority by virtue of the fact that he is the bishop of the Church in Rome which ‘presides in charity over all the churches’ (St Ignatius of Antioch, 1st century AD, quoted by Pope Francis just after his election). It is simply incorrect to suggest that Pope Francis is emphasising his localized Roman responsibilities at the expense of the universal nature of his office; on the contrary, it would appear that he is using language dating back to the early Christian community to remind people of the origins of the position he now occupies.

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