PS 90-92: Liturgy of the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document Paschale Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet.

90. The celebration of the Eucharist forms the fourth part of the Vigil and marks its high point, for it is in the fullest sense the Easter Sacrament, that is to say, the commemoration of the sacrifice of the Cross and the presence of the risen Christ, the completion of Christian initiation, and the foretaste of the eternal pasch.

This is true. The liturgies of Light and Baptism, once-a-year efforts deserve careful attention. Multiple readings and psalms need significant preparation and rehearsal from lectors and musicians. But if we are to take this document to heart, the Liturgy of the Eucharist should be extraordinary at the Vigil, not just business-as-usual. And not “hasty,” as we read:

91. Great care should be taken that this Eucharistic Liturgy is not celebrated in haste; indeed, all the rites and words must be given their full force: the general intercessions in which for the first time the neophytes now as members of the faithful exercise their priesthood; (Cf. Roman Missal, The Easter Vigil, 49; RCIA 36)

In some parishes, one or more of the neophytes actually offer these prayers. I think I would prefer a sung setting.

the procession at the offertory in which the neophytes, if there are any, take part;

This is an apt role for the newly baptized. In my parish, everyone manages a role, as stands, candles, and cloths, bread and wine all must make festive a bare altar.

the first, second or third Eucharistic Prayer, preferably sung, with their proper embolisms; (Cf. Roman Missal, The Easter Vigil, 53; Ritual Masses, 3. Baptism)

Note the preference for singing the entire prayer.

and finally Eucharistic Communion, as the moment of full participation in the mystery that is being celebrated. It is appropriate that at Communion there be sung psalm (118) with the antiphon “Pascha nostrum”, or psalm (34) with the antiphon “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia”, or some other song of Easter exultation.

Psalm 118 makes some sense, though some of the verses repeat what accompanied the Gospel procession. Psalm 136 makes more sense to me, a litany of praise recounting God’s wonders in history.

92. It is fitting that in the Communion of the Easter Vigil full expression be given to the symbolism of the Eucharist, namely, by consuming the Eucharist under the species of both bread and wine. The local ordinaries will consider the appropriateness of such a concession and the relevant circumstances. (Cf. old GIRM 240-242)

And lastly, bishops should consider Communion under both forms, if they haven’t already. I think lay Catholics would do well to consider it also, if it isn’t part of their plan already–just for the one occasion a year.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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