Saturday, March 22, 2008

Vigil Preparation

I think I'm all set for tonight's vigil. I've put great care into making sure everything is where it needs to be. I've even rehearsed starting the "New Fire" about a dozen times. You see, this liturgy starts with a fire being kindled either outside or at the back of the church--the larger the better (according to the rubrics). So I have a little table-top charcoal grille to use for the purpose.

At St. Mary Magdalene's they use a nice cast iron pot which is just the right size and seals up tightly when the lid is put on to extinguish the flame. But putting the fire out is easier than starting it. At SMM Harold always uses a long-necked lighter like you'd use to light candles for a birthday party. It always grated my Anglo-Catholic sensibilities wrong to use such an undignified source for the everlasting fire! Especially since at SMM all the candles burn from flame taken from the Easter Vigil Great Fire--they simply pass the flame on from candle to candle throughout the year. (I've always liked that tradition.)

When I asked Harold about the lighter he shrugged and explained that lighting the new fire with a flint is near impossible. This year, I'm taking up his challenge, with a little help. A heard that one of the other priests in town once cursed the sacred flint as he tried to light the Vigil fire. In punishment, God made sure his microphone was on and everyone still inside the church heard his unkind words! I'm not taking such chances. I'm using a fire steel I bought in the camping section at Canadian Tire. I found that lighting something on the ground is easier than something suspended on a grill, because you can't brace the rod against the tinder. So I'm cheating a little. I'm dipping a cotton ball in lighter fluid, then putting tinder on top of that and lighting it that way. I usually takes five or six strikes, but it seems to be reliable. So stay tuned to see how that works!

I'm especially looking forward to doing the whole Pascal Candle routine--etching the Cross, Alpha, Omega, and year numbers into it, the adding the "nails." Very cool. I hope I get more than just a handful of people. From what I understand, the tradition of doing the Easter Vigil is new among Anglicans in Canada, so it hasn't caught on as much as it did in the U.S.


No comments: