Easter Vigils Offer Participants the Symbol of Light in the Darkness, Hope Amidst Despair

BY CAROLYN JOHNSON

Like Easter vigils throughout the world, vigils and services held in Rockland and Bergen counties last weekend began with the lighting of a fire. On the grounds of Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, there was a large brazier full of blazing wood from which Pastor Reverend Bob Stagg lit the towering Easter candle.

A procession of candidates for Christian initiation carried the candle to the entrance of the darkened church. The candles held by members of the congregation were lit one by one and the glow spreading throughout the church. The best of church hymns are sung in churches during Easter weekend, including the famous ‘hallelujahs.’ The light of Easter, according to Pope Benedict XVI, proclaims forever the fact that “life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies.”

It’s always curious and inspiring to witness people choosing to join a community of faith in a culture that so values independence. Rockland County is home to many particularly strong religious communities, including varied sects of Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith, each sharing in their own expression and celebration of belief during this holy season.