Title: The Liturgy of the Light, The Resurrection Vigil (Anastasi)
Subject: The Paschal Mystery
Age: 3 to 13 years
Liturgical Time: Pascha
Doctrinal Content: As a community we proclaim, celebrate and participate in the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
Direct Aim: We celebrate the Resurrection and accept the invitation of the Risen Christ to share in His Light.
Indirect Aim: The additional aims of this lesson are to go deeper into the Paschal mystery; to grow towards a fuller understanding of the gift of the life and light of the Risen Christ: His continuing presence; to participate more fully in the celebration of Easter and its liturgies; enhance education to wonder; and to prepare for the presentations of Baptism.
Sources: Holy Week-Easter Services Book, New English Translation, 1996.
Materials for the Lesson:
Paschal candle with stand
Red and white ribbon for candle
Low table with altar cloth
Individual candles (think safety)
Matches, snuffer and taper
Articles to carry in procession to place on table: such as a Good Shepherd Icon, Icon of the Resurrection , Bible, flowers, candles, icon stands
Aids for the children to participate in the liturgy: booklets for the liturgy, cards for the words to prepare the Christ candle, as appropriate
The Lesson Plan:
The celebration should be based on the Liturgy of the Light celebration of the Resurrection Vigil of the parish to which the children belong. There is room for individual variations and for older children to make decisions about what will be done. If there are older children who are interested in helping to plan this, encourage them appropriately. The following is a usual example:
Preparation: Spend several weeks prior to the celebration preparing the children for what they will experience: being in the dark, safety with the candles, learning the songs, preparing the readings. Prepare the Paschal Candle (it can be decorated with red and white ribbon).
Blessing and lighting of the Paschal Candle: Gather in a place away from where the main celebration will occur. Have ready the Paschal candle and anything that will be carried during the procession (articles for the prayer table, cards for the readings, etc.) Welcome everyone and announce with words such as, "We have come together to celebrate this great time of Pascha; this moment when Jesus rose from the dead."
In some manner, state the following words that are said by the priest in the service of the Resurrection. Say them all together as a class, or ask the children to repeat after the leader, or by individual children from cards. Light the Paschal candle and say/sing: "Come, receive the light from the unwaning light, and glorify Christ, Who has risen from the dead." Repeat twice more.
Procession: Process to the place where the Liturgy of Light will be celebrated. An adult leads, carrying the Paschal candle, and the children follow, carrying their articles to place upon the prayer table. Three times the procession stops, the candle is lifted up, and someone says or sings: "Christ is Risen!" All respond with, "Truly He is Risen."
Place the Paschal candle in its holder by or on the prayer table. If the children have brought articles for the prayer table, call them one at a time to place their article on the table. Everyone is seated.
Sharing of the Light Have someone proclaim: "The Angels in Heaven praise Your Resurrection, O Christ, Savior. Make us also here on earth worthy, to glorify You with pure hearts. Come, receive the light from the unwaning light, and glorify Christ, Who has risen from the dead."
The catechist calls each child one by one to come up and get their individual candle. This is done in silence and in darkness.
Celebration of the Light and the Word: The celebration consists of optional readings from the Bible or Holy Week book, songs/responses to the readings. Some examples follow. When everyone has their own candles lit, have someone read the lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark (Chapter 16: 1-8). Sing "Christ is Risen" three times, rising the candle. Then ask a child (or several) read the following verses and sing Christos Anesti after each:
- "Let God arise and His enemies be scattered." Sing Christ is Risen.
- "As smoke vanishes, let them vanish." Sing Christ is Risen.
- "Sinners shall perish from God's presence and the righteous shall rejoice." Sing Christ is Risen.
- "This is the Day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Sing Christ is Risen.
If older children are among the group, the following are further optional prayers to read:
"Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, who alone is without sin. We venerate Your cross, O Christ, and we praise and glorify Your Holy Resurrection. For You are our God, and we know no other, except You and we call on Your Name. Come all you faithful, let us worship Christ's Holy Resurrection; for through the Cross, joy has come to the whole world. For at all times, blessing the Lord, we praise His Resurrection. Having endured the Cross for us, He destroyed Death by death. Having risen from the grave, as He foretold, He has given us Eternal Life and the Great Mercy."
From the Catechetical Homily of St. John Chrysostom: "Whosoever is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful bright Festival. And whosoever is a grateful servant, let him joyously enter into the joy of his Lord. And if any be weary with fasting, let him now receive his reward. If any has toiled from the first hour, let him receive his just debt. If any came after the third, let him gratefully celebrate. If any arrived after the sixth, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. If any delayed to the ninth, let him come without hesitation. If any arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay; for the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first….Let all of you enter into the joy of our Lord….You rich and poor, rejoice together…You who fasted, and you who did not, rejoice today. …let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith. All of you enjoy the riches of His goodness….Let no one fear death; for the Death of our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it…..Christ is risen and the Angels rejoice…"
Once the prayers are read, have everyone bring their candles back up to the table and place them around the Paschal table. Enjoy the Christ candle and all the individual candles on the table in silence.
Closing Prayer: "Jesus is Risen as He foretold and has granted to all of us, eternal life." End with, "Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen!" This is repeated three times.
Pass out died red eggs to the children.
Recessional: Sing the Resurrection Hymn (The Light of Christ Catechesis Song)
Hold an optional "feast" in another room.
Notice: This lesson plan utilizes training and the general philosophy/method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. Materials found in this document, however, have been created specifically to incorporate the theology and dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church. The author of this lesson offers special recognition to Mrs. JoAnne Padget, CGS Instructor, who provided instruction and guidance in the CGS method. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program requires intensive study and strongly recommends that teachers using their program enroll in and complete coursework through an authorized CGS instructor. More information about CGS is available at http://www.cgsusa.org.