Peoria, Ill – Catholics made a pilgrimage from all over the diocese of Peoria to participate in the annual Holy Saturday Easter Vigil Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday, April 3, 2010. Mass began at 8:15 p.m. The typically quiet cathedral was buzzing with excited anticipation prior to Mass as children and adults would receive the sacraments of initiation that evening.
The sacraments of initiation include Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. Typically the sacraments of initiation begin with infant Baptism for a Catholic. While the age of receiving the sacraments of initiation may vary per diocese, children receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist during grade school years, and finally the sacrament of Confirmation during eighth grade in the diocese of Peoria.
For those who convert to the Catholic faith, it is possible to receive anywhere from one to all three of the sacraments of initiation, depending on his or her age. Adults who have not been baptized, for example, would receive all three sacraments. Converts to the Catholic faith who have had valid baptisms or Catholics who never completed the sacraments of initiation may receive sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confirmation. Catholics who have previously received the first two sacraments would receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
Seven children from St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Peoria received the sacrament of Baptism while nearly 20 adults from St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sacred Heart Parish, St. Joseph Parish, and St. Robert Bellarmine completed the sacraments of initiation.
The Easter Vigil Mass at the cathedral was longer than a regular Sunday Mass and differs from Sunday Masses because of the occasion and because of the various sacraments administered. The vigil began in complete darkness as the bishop began the Blessing of the New Fire and the Lighting of the Paschal Candle. Once several prayers had been offered, the new light was passed on to all members in the church who had been given candles prior the commencement of the vigil.
The bishop proceeded into the cathedral and took his place in the sanctuary. Several Old Testament readings were given. After the readings followed a dramatic “Gloria” from the choir and brass during which all statues were unveiled, the altar was given new Easter linens, more candles were lit, and the cathedral was brightened, and the rest of the Mass began. The rest of the Mass loosely followed the order of a typical Sunday Mass except that there were more than three readings from the Old and New Testaments and the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist were integrated into the order of the Mass.