Saturday, April 4, 2015


The Easter Vigil is primarily in Latin and truly resplendent! He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Pope Francis
4 April 2015

Tonight is a night of vigil.  The Lord is not sleeping; the Watchman is watching over his people (cf. Ps 121:4), to bring them out of slavery and to open before them the way to freedom.

The Lord is keeping watch and, by the power of his love, he is bringing his people through the Red
 Sea.  He is also bringing Jesus through the abyss of death and the netherworld.

This was a night of vigil for the disciples of Jesus, a night of sadness and fear.  The men remained locked in the Upper Room.  Yet, the women went to the tomb at dawn on Sunday to anoint Jesus’ body.  Their hearts were overwhelmed and they were asking themselves:  “How will we enter?  Who will roll back the stone of the tomb?…”  But here was the first sign of the great event: the large stone was already rolled back and the tomb was open!

“Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe…” (Mk 16:5).  The women were the first to see this great sign, the empty tomb; and they were the first to enter…

“Entering the tomb”. It is good for us, on this Vigil night, to reflect on the experience of the women, which also speaks to us.  For that is why we are here: to enter, to enter into the Mystery which God has accomplished with his vigil of love.

We cannot live Easter without entering into the mystery.  It is not something intellectual, something we only know or read about… It is more, much more!

“To enter into the mystery” means the ability to wonder, to contemplate; the ability to listen to the silence and to hear the tiny whisper amid great silence by which God speaks to us (cf 1 Kings 19:12).

To enter into the mystery demands that we not be afraid of reality: that we not be locked into ourselves, that we not flee from what we fail to understand, that we not close our eyes to problems or deny them, that we not dismiss our questions…

To enter into the mystery means going beyond our own comfort zone, beyond the laziness and indifference which hold us back, and going out in search of truth, beauty and love.  It is seeking a deeper meaning, an answer, and not an easy one, to the questions which challenge our faith, our fidelity and our very existence.

To enter into the mystery, we need humility, the lowliness to abase ourselves, to come down from the pedestal of our “I” which is so proud, of our presumption; the humility not to take ourselves so seriously, recognizing who we really are: creatures with strengths and weaknesses, sinners in need of forgiveness.

To enter into the mystery we need the lowliness that is powerlessness, the renunciation of our idols… in a word, we need to adore.  Without adoration, we cannot enter into the mystery.

The women who were Jesus’ disciples teach us all of this.  They kept watch that night, together with Mary. And she, the Virgin Mother, helped them not to lose faith and hope.  As a result, they did not remain prisoners of fear and sadness, but at the first light of dawn they went out carrying their ointments, their hearts anointed with love.

 They went forth and found the tomb open.  And they went in.  They had kept watch, they went forth and they entered into the Mystery.  May we learn from them to keep watch with God and with Mary our Mother, so that we too may enter into the Mystery which leads from death to life.

The Mass of Easter Day on a rainy Roman Easter Sunday morning but still resplendent and clothed in Latin. A rare scene with Pope Francis as there are two cardinal-deacons at this papal Mass, vested as deacons. Due to the rain, the lectern for the Scriptures is brought under the canopy where the altar is. Therefore, the readings are not from the Epistle and Gospel side of Saint Peter's Square. The Roman Canon is prayed in Latin as is most of the Mass. The Gospel is chanted in both Latin and Greek as is customary for the Papal Easter Mass:

Urbi et Orbi: Pope Francis wears the ornate papal Easter stole for this blessing to the city of Rome and to the world:


George said...

The Paschal lamb which was eaten under the Old Covenant for Passover was in commemoration of the deliverance of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can be seen as the our partaking of the Paschal Lamb of the New Covenant -Christ the Son of God- and commemorates in a special way our deliverance from the bondage of sin by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.Unlike the eating of the Paschal lamb of the Old Covenant, which commemorated something that happened in the past, the Paschal Lamb whose dying and rising we proclaim today, makes present to us Christ’s Sacrifice in our own time and place.
The same sacrifice at Calvary is re-presented in an unbloody manner by God’s representative the priest who acts in the person of Christ as at he Last Supper. The flesh and blood of the Pascal Lamb,under the appearance of bread and wine is consumed by the faithful at Holy Mass.
In this way, if we receive worthily and hold fast to God’s laws, we will one day enter into a new Promised Land- the Promise Land of Eternal Heaven.

Michael (Quicumque Vult) said...

I have a pretty neat story for you, Father. As is probably obvious from comments about it here, I have a very strong affinity for the Roman Canon, and am deeply saddened at how rarely it's prayed in the NO (not only that, I think any restoration of the liturgy should start with a return to the Canon for Sundays). Well, my pastor has up to now only used Eucharistic Prayer 2 (Sundays, weekdays, solemnities, et al...), except for one occasion on All Saint's Day, when he used #3.

I had prayed and prayed that the Roman Canon would be prayed at the Easter Vigil, and surely enough, by some miracle, even though the pastor was saying the Mass, he used the Roman Canon! A very unexpected, though much prayed for, surprise.

Happy Easter!

Rood Screen said...


The Roman canon is the heart of the Roman liturgical tradition, and Cassian Folsom, O.S.B., argues that Paul VI only introduced alternatives to contain the rapid proliferation of national and even personal canons in the Sixties.

However, I do think there is one reasonable argument against using the Roman Canon in the OF Mass. Since the Eucharistic Prayer must now be recited aloud in the OF, and since the Roman Canon was not composed with this possibility in mind, perhaps it simply is not ideally suited for the Ordinary Form. The faithful should be focused on Calvary during the Eucharistic Prayer, and the complexity of the Roman Canon recited aloud could interfere with this proper lay participation. I'm not convinced of this, but I do think the argument has merit.

Michael (Quicumque Vult) said...

Fr. JBS,

Thanks for an interesting response, and happy Easter. Indeed, I've heard the argument you mention, and have two thoughts on it:

1. The Roman Canon was around before the Canon "went silent," correct? If that's right, then it wasn't written to be prayed quietly, and for some time would have been heard by people present.
2. Before Vatican II, anyone who followed the Mass in a missal would have read the text of the Canon, and as far as we know it didn't cause participation trouble for those laity.

I think the argument might have some merit, too, to an extent, but my own experience has been that the depth and reverence found in the Roman Canon is precisely what allows me to focus on Calvary well, while the other prayers come across as a bit "thin."

Not only that, I've found that the frequent presence of threes (these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices/this pure Victim, this holy Victim, this spotless Victim) makes for a pleasant listen, and also links to other parts of the Mass, like the threefold mea culpa.

Just my two cents. :)

Rood Screen said...


1. It's my understanding that an emperor ordered the Eastern anaphora to be recited aloud, but I've never read anything about the Roman canon ever being recited aloud. The Jewish high priest certainly was not audible to those outside the Holy of Holies, so it is possible that the Church preserved that reality.

2. As for hand missals, it's worth noting that these were only used in a few nations, and that before the Twentieth century they did not contain the words of the canon.

As for aesthetics, the Roman Canon is certainly superior. I wish Paul VI had simply provided an abbreviated version of it, instead of issuing entirely new Eucharistic prayers.

Michael (Quicumque Vult) said...

Fr. JBS (just so I'm sure, it is "Father," isn't it?),

My source for the Roman Canon being read (or in this case, sung) aloud is a book which may or may not be mistaken on the issue: The History and the Future of the Roman Liturgy, Denis Crouan, STD, 2001.

In the chapter describing an eighth-century Papal Mass at St. Mary Major, he writes, "There is no such thing as a Canon recited in a low voice; on the contrary, according to the ancient liturgical tradition, it is sung in its entirety" (pg. 40). This may or may not be correct/up to date information, so if there' anything solid to the contrary, I'd be all ears.