Our forty day Lenten journey has brought us to the ultimate festal day of the whole liturgical year. Hopefully we have all participated in the Sacred Triduum ceremonies of Thursday and Friday.
We saw the priesthood and Eucharist instituted at Holy Thursday. A glimspe of Easter glory was given us with the singing of the Gloria. The priest responded to Christ’s priestly command to serve by washing the feet of males only (viri). Christ in the Blessed Sacrament was reposed and the altar was stripped.
On Friday the Passion was sung and the Cross kissed. We could receive Communion but we “fasted” from Mass. On “liturgical” Saturday, that is until sundown, we had neither Mass nor Holy Communion, and thus we arrived at the nadir of the year in our preparation for Easter. Suddenly with the Vigil, flowers, instrumental music, and white and gold vestments return. The Church springs back to life like Christ from His tomb.
Remember that at this point, the liturgy began in darkness.
The priest kindled the fire and prepared the candle. Light began to spread through the church from hand to had as the smaller candles held by the faithful were lit.
The deacon sings three times Lumen Christi … The Light of Christ, three times as the sacred ministers process to the sanctuary. The Christ Candle is set in place, incensed, and Exsultet is sung.
The liturgy of the word begins, and after each reading there is a Collect.
The 2002 Missale Romanum presents 11 different prayers. We shall examine the final Collect, which follows the singing of the Gloria and the lighting of the candles on the altar during the ringing of the bells.
FINAL COLLECT (2002MR):
Deus, qui hanc sacratissimam noctem
gloria dominicae resurrectionis illustras,
excita in Ecclesia tua adoptionis spiritum,
ut, corpore et mente renovati,
puram tibi exhibeamus servitutem.
This is adapted from the prayer in the 1962MR situated in the same moment of the Mass. The 1962 prayer was the same as that found in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary.
O God, who illuminate this most holy night
by the glory of the Lord’s resurrection,
rouse up the spirit of adoption in Your Church,
so that, having been renewed in mind and body,
we may render You our unstained service.
There is a reading from the New Testament, the first Alleluia of the season and the Gospel proclaimed in usual way. There follows the baptismal rite with the singing of the Litany of Saints, blessing of Easter water, and the conferral of the sacraments with a confession of Faith. When the Eucharistic part of the Mass begins, in the usual way, the priest sings the
SUPER OBLATA (2002MR):
Suscipe, quaesumus, Domine, preces populi tui
cum oblationibus hostiarum,
ut, paschalibus initiata mysteriis,
ad aeternitatis nobis medelam, te operante, proficiant.
This is identical to the corresponding prayer in the Gelasian and also Secret of the Mass in the pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum. A note about pascha and its various forms. This word concerns all things Easter: the first Passover and passage of the Jews from slavery to freedom, the Jewish rites of the sacrificing the lambs at Passover or, in the Christian sense, the Passion and Resurrection of the Lamb of God, and the subsequent renewal of these mysteries both in Holy Mass and each year in the Triduum and Easter.
Receive, O Lord, we beg you, the prayers of Your people
with offerings of sacrifices
so that the things initiated in the paschal mysteries,
may, You causing it, avail for us unto the remedy of eternity.
Holy Mass continues as normal to the consecration, during which the priest says the words pro multis (“for the many”), and thence to the most perfect form of active participation, the distribution and reception of Holy Communion. For many who have been brought into the full embrace of Holy Church, this will be the first time they have received the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Risen Christ.
POST COMMUNIONEM (2002MR):
Spiritum nobis, Domine, tuae caritatis infunde,
ut, quos sacramentis paschalibus satiasti,
tua facias pietate concordes.
This prayer was not in the Gelasian but is to be found in the Veronese Sacramentary in the month of November, though it has uno caelesti pane rather than sacramentis paschalibus. It was also the corresponding prayer in the 1962MR and earlier editions.
Infuse in us, O Lord, the Spirit of Your charity,
in order that in Your compassion You make one in mind
those whom you have satiated with the mysterious paschal sacraments.
Please accept my prayerful best wishes to you and yours for a fruitful and holy Easter season.