My favorite thing about the Easter vigil is the focus on light
... at the beginning of the Mass, the congregation sits in the darkened
chapel with unlit candles. The priest
enters carrying the new Paschal candle
and singing, followed by a number of people with smaller candles, who proceed to spread the light
about the church.
In the space of a minute or less, the entire space goes from pitch-blackness to the lovely, comforting, and warm glow of hundreds of candles. Combined with the singing and the general atmosphere of joy in the room, it becomes breathtaking, even awe-inspiring. Next comes the Exsultet, whose haunting melody and joyous words are enough to bring you almost to tears... the saddest part of the Mass is when we all extinguish our candles and the lights come back on... it would be so much nicer if the entire Mass was done by candlelight. It is, however, necessary that the candles be extinguished...
The Sacraments of Initiation invariably make everyone directly involved get tears, and a number of us who were not directly involved had to blink back tears. At baptism, each of the newly baptized is told "Recieve the light of Christ", and gets a lit baptismal candle from a godparent. The newly baptized then spread the light around the room again, with such a look of joy on their faces I can't possibly describe...
The Easter vigil is magic. Even if you're not a Catholic, even if you don't believe in God at all, you must know that no words can explain the atmosphere of joy in the church, the feeling of being part of such greatness. And everyone is welcome, and it's really really worth being a part of. I can't do it justice... so see for yourself.