Holy Fire

Last night I drove to Mt. Irenaeus in the dark and cold of a spring snowstorm. I didn’t really know what to expect. How would the friars celebrate the Vigil tonight amidst all the snow and cold. When I arrived, I trekked up the snow covered path to Holy Peace Chapel and there I spied my friend Brother Joe Kotula, OFM standing outside. We greeted each other and he told me that everyone inside the chapel was about to join us outside. In a few moments about thirty souls exited the chapel and sauntered slowly to an area about 25 yards away. A covering was removed from a well built bundle of sticks. At Fr. Dan Riley’s direction Brother Joe lit the fire and in a minute or two it began to blaze brightly. The warmth and light of the fire stood in stark contrast to the cold and darkness of all that surrounded us. We huddled toward the fire as Fr. Dan Riley, OFM prayed.

Dear Friends in Christ, on this most holy night, when our Lord Jesus Christ passed from death to life, the Church invites her children throughout the world to come together in vigil and prayer. This is the passover of the Lord.

I love the Easter Vigil and have ever since I was a boy. It is a special mystical reminder of our common heritage with the Israelites and a reminder of all that we hold sacred. We processed into the chapel and listened to the readings from Genesis and Exodus. There were several families who had spent the Triduum at Mt. Irenaeus and their young daughters read beautifully. The sound of feminine voices made me think of all the women who were a part of Jesus ministry including his mother. This year again the Rosary has been a major part of my Lenten devotion. I thought too of the need for feminine voices in our world. I’ve grown tired of the masculine, warlike voices. These gentle voices of peace were welcoming us all to again celebrate the resurrection of the Lord.

Thus says the Lord: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!”

We did come to the water last night as we renewed our baptisms in Christ. Together we rejected Satan and all his works, we rejected sin, we rejected the glamor of evil. As I recited these words in the presence of many friends I reflected on what they meant for me. I think for many of us in the chapel we reject the sin of war, endless oppression of the poor, we hear the voice of the Poverello.

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.
-St. Francis of Assisi

We adore you Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Happy Easter.