A day as sacred as the day of the Lord’s rest; it has been called the “Second Sabbath” after creation. The day is and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year. Christ rests in the sleep of death within the sealed tomb. His soul descends into “hell” that is, the “limbo of the just,” where the souls of all the holy men who had died before Him had to wait until the Lord’s victory on the Cross reopened heaven to mankind which had been closed by the sin of Adam. Christ liberates the souls of the just and leads them at last, to eternal blessedness.
In the evening, the “mother of all vigils” takes place as St Augustine called it. The Easter Vigil is the greatest and most noble of all masses. On this holy night, the Church keeps watch, celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the sacraments and awaiting His return in glory. It is the turning point of the Triduum, the Passover of the new covenant, which marks Christ’s passage from death to life. Therefore, the Easter Vigil does not correspond to the usual Saturday evening Mass and its character is unique in the cycle of the liturgical year. Especially unique to this Mass is the service of light and the baptism of the catechumens.