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Reflection at the Easter Vigil, 2024

Tonight, Saint Paul tells us, like the Romans, "Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

Blog by Pat Schnee, OPA

Thanks in no small part to the Dominican Sisters who taught me, …many from this very house,… I was a good student. I was an excellent student!   Except for one class. I flunked swimming at the Y.

By then I was a young mother with four small children at home. And my sister-in-law, another mother of small children, said to me “Pat, we need to know how to swim… for the sake of the children.” So she signed us up.

For six weeks I tried to follow directions…. all the while hanging as close as I could to the side of the pool. Inevitably, the last night of class came. We all lined up at the edge of the pool to take our turn jumping into the water. I took my place at the very end of the line. I was so frightened.

I can still smell the chlorine in the air and hear our voices bouncing off the walls of the natatorium. And there was our instructor below in the water, trying to encourage me. "You can do this. I'm right here. "

But I couldn't.

It can be frightening …to leave your comfort zone,… to leave what you know,… what you are sure of… and jump into the unknown.

Some of us here tonight are facing that kind of challenge. And it is reasonable to have qualms.

But all of us here are facing another even more radical challenge. Because in a few moments, we will renew our baptismal promises and seal that commitment with the Sign of the Cross and the water.

Now I am under no illusion that the people who come to the Easter Vigil are hardened criminals!  But we all have places where we are held together by rubber bands and chewing gum - we have an attitude of superiority… or a tendency to judgment. Passivity in the face of injustice. Lack of candor. A reluctance to share the gifts we've been given. In the water of baptism, we are asked to put to death anything that keeps us from becoming one with Christ.

It's not for nothing that the liturgists tell us baptism should be celebrated in “enough water to die in."

“Enough water to die in.”

And if that doesn't give you any qualms maybe you don't understand the situation! Or, as Paul would say, "Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? “

These three holy days have brought us here. From Holy Thursday: "If I, therefore, master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. “ (John 13:14) … to Good Friday: (Lk: 23:46). "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit... “ to tonight… and our proclamation that death is not the end of the story. Not for him. Not for us. Paul, again, "For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.

And so with joy, we come to the water and renew our commitment.

Tonight there is no chlorine in the air, yet voices again fill the space where we gather.

And whatever the challenges we face, whatever deaths, to embrace the unknown or to accept the changes required by our baptismal promises, whatever the challenges, I believe that if we are very still we can hear the Spirit of God say to us …

“You can do this… I am right here."


6 thoughts on “Reflection at the Easter Vigil, 2024

  1. Pat, what thoughts, what inspiration! I was honored to experience your reflection in person and “feel” your fear of swimming followed by the courage of “you can do this, I am right here”. Bless you for blessing us!

  2. Dear Pat,
    So grateful for your reflection and those last words of the Spirit that we all hope to remember when the little deaths come our way.
    “ You can do this…I am right here.”
    God bless your preaching abundantly.

  3. Wonderful reflection! I always remember those I’ve been blessed to journey with through RCIA, and their excitement on the most holy of nights.

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