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idea for the easter vigil

I first heard this idea from the Open Book blog mentioning a similar practice held at St. Meinrad’s Archabbey. I tweaked it a bit and present it below. I’ll note that it is not practical for virtually all parish settings and would be best used in a communal-life setting.
The Vigil begins in the normal way shortly after nightfall. The Service of Light with the fire is as normal. The clergy with the people return to the church as normal except the lights remain off. The readings of the Old Testament are read, again as normal. After the 7th Old Testament reading, the vigil “ends”. In a setting, like a retreat or an abbey, the people return to their rooms. A few remain in the chapel (rotating?) to privately pray for the expected return of the Lord or chant psalms, etc while keeping watch.
After some time has passed, bells are rung (as to call the people to prayer). After the people have returned, someone approches the celebrant and says/sings something to the effect “Father- I have good news. Some of the women have been to the tomb and it is open. He is not there. Jesus Christ is risen!” In response, the priest intones the Gloria: “Glory to God in the highest!” The Gloria continues like normal as all the lights are raised and the candles are lit.
The Vigil Mass continues and concludes as normal.
I do not know if the current rubrics foresaw such an innovation; the Sacramentary is clear that the Vigil should not begin until after dark and should end before the first light of day.
Again, this is not suggested for virtually any situation; however, in limited circumstances, it could be a really beautiful liturgical event.
Building on that idea, I think it could be interesting to have a Triduum retreat. Retreantants would gather at their local church for Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper with the entire community. After Mass, they meet together and begin the retreat. On Friday, they celebrate the Lord’s Passion. On Saturday night, they celebrate the Easter Vigil. If their location and circumstances permit, the “extended” vigil above could be used.

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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