WDTPRS – Vigil of Easter – HAPPY EASTER!

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.

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

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.

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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in WDTPRS and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Stephen Morgan says:

    Surrexit Dominus Vere, Alleluia!

    Have a blessed Easter, Fr Z, with prayers and kind regards from your friends in the Diocese of Portsmouth.

  2. FrCharles says:

    I do accept them, Father, and offer mine to you. This year is my first opportunity to preach at the Easter Vigil, and I am humbled and grateful. Sursum sunt quaerite!

  3. becket1 says:

    Happy Easter FrZ!.

  4. Magpie says:

    Thank you Father Z, and a joyful and blessed Easter to you, from Northern Ireland!

  5. RichardT says:

    Happy Easter to all.

    But I’ve also got a question. Our temporary stand-in priest tonight (Vigil Mass) sang the Gloria silently – he chanted “Gloria in excelsis Deo”, then moved his lips silently for another minute or so.

    I’ve never seen this before. Is it an old tradition or a 1950s practice that he has re-started,? Or (he is elderly) did he just not think that his voice would hold out, or had he forgotten the Latin? I don’t want to make a thing of it (we are grateful that he has come out of retirement to help after our priest died), but was curious to know whether anyone else has seen this. [That’s old school. In the traditional form of the Roman Rite the priest would always say the parts sung by the choir, such as the Gloria and the Creed.]

  6. RichardT says:

    P.S. – before anyone sees the time log and thinks that we had our Vigil Mass improperly early, we’re in England so it’s nearly midnight here.

  7. Ceile De says:

    Thank you, Father, and the same to you. Getting ready now to go to Church where my wife will, Deo volente, be baptized, make her first Holy Communion, and be confirmed in a few hours. Then back tomorrow for the Extraordinary Form. Wow – Church four days running!

  8. Ceile De: Congratulations to her from all WDTPRSers!

  9. chloesmom says:

    Thanks, Father, and Happy Easter to you as well!

  10. wanda says:

    Christ is risen, Alleluia! Alleluia!

    Blessed, joyous Easter, Fr Z. and all WDTPRSers. Thank you for your companionship on the journey.

  11. JonM says:

    Happy Easter Father Z!

  12. Maltese says:

    Great piece, Father; and we should remember that, in every way, Mass is an unbloody re-enactment of the Sacrifice of Christ. That is a sticking point with our protestant friends, but it is essential that Catholic Priests begin to see Holy Mass as not a “community meal,” but as the unbloody Sacrifice; identical to Calvary. Yes, Christ in the Upper Room also gave us a communal understanding; but His words, “do this,” has to be taken in context with His Sacrifice. This Sacrifice at the altar continued unabated until the Second Vatican Council; a valid, but flawed council.

  13. patrick_f says:

    Once again..I am truly thankful you do this. You provide a voice of reason…in a sea of mediocrity. Happy easter!

  14. Clinton says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z., and a blessed Easter to you as well!

  15. Warren says:

    Happy Easter Father Z and all brothers and sisters in Christ!

    Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia!

  16. Ceile De says:

    Thank you father. All went well. Deo gratias. [I am so glad. Congratulations again.]

  17. Happy Easter everyone!

  18. RichardT says:

    Thank you for the answer, Father. That makes sense, but it did seem very odd without the choir singing it!

    Happy Easter to you.

    Congratulations to Ceile De’s wife, and any other WDTPRS Easter baptisms.

  19. bruno says:

    Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
    Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
    Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
    Sound the trumpet of salvation!

    A blessed Easter to all.

  20. Totally awesome

    July 28, 2006 — Traditional Latin Mass filmed on Easter Sunday in 1941 at Our Lady of Sorrows church in Chicago. The film presents the ceremonies of the Missa Solemnis or Solemn High Mass in full detail with narration by then-Mgr. Fulton J. Sheen. Celebrated by Rev. J. R. Keane of the Order of Servites (hence the white habits and cowls), the ceremonies are accompanied by a full polyphonic choir, orchestra, and fifty Gregorian Chanters.

    The attention to detail in the ceremonies is impressive. Notice, for example, how the servers and ministers always take great care to move in order. Notice too that the servers are all almost identical in height. The Ordinary of the Mass, composed by Rev. Edwin V. Hoover, while pleasant in places, is very much a reflection of its time. The Proper on the other hand is timeless and sung admirably by a healthy throng of Seminarians from Mundelein, Illinois.


    Happy Easter to all!

  21. Dr. Eric says:

    Christus Resurrexit!

    Father, I want to thank you for posting the prayers and the translations. For the second year in a row I attended The Good Friday Liturgy at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis which uses the 1962 Rituals. Again, every time I go it is edifying and I feel a connection with the past as I am doing things the same way that my elder brethren in the Faith did them for centuries. Reading these helps me to know the structure of the prayers as they were written centuries ago. I am hoping to make the oratory my family’s place of worship after this PSR year is over.

    Thank you for answering The Call and for your hard work on these translations, especially as I can only pronounce the Ecclesiastical Latin and can’t translate it for myself.

Comments are closed.