Thursday 17 May 2012


The purple of a Vigil Mass laid out ready for High Mass.
As I'm abroad at the moment, I was able, in preparation for today's feast of the Ascension, to offer High Mass in the Extraordinary Form, a Vigil Mass of the Ascension - "vigil" even though it was only 9am in the morning.  It seems to be to be a good tradition to keep vigils of the major feasts as a way of preparing and setting the scene for our thoughts and meditations.  They do exist in the Ordinary Form but seem to take the place of the actual feast, as in an anticipated Mass (often called the "vigil" Mass - as on a Saturday evening standing in for the Sunday). 

This brings me to a particular observation - namely I think that in the minds of many people when they hear the term "Easter Vigil" they somehow still think of it in the context of the usual anticipated Mass (so often called a "Vigil" Mass) that they might be used to in many parishes on a Saturday evening (even when the priest goes out of his way to explain that this is not the quickie Mass for those who can't be bothered to come on an actual Sunday (as opposed to those who really cannot get there for practical reasons).  I don't think that it's just me, as many priests tell me that they find it hard to get people along to the Easter Vigil.

A Vigil Mass in our tradition does have a specific meaning but we have applied it to something new and thereby lost the opportunity to give proper meaning to an actual Vigil - the greatest of all - the Easter Vigil.

I'm fortunate enough to be celebrating High Mass again today for the Ascension - forty days after Our Lord's Resurrection but I will have to do it all over again on Sunday in the Ordinary Form, forty three days after the Resurrection, since the transferal of the holy days in England.

Whenever you are keeping it - a blessed Ascension Day.  Our Lord goes ahead to await us!


David O'Neill said...

Hello Father
I was surprised to see you using violet for the Vigil of the Ascension as the LMS Ordo shows it as White. Any reason behind this?

Anonymous said...

Indeed the Vigil of the Ascension is unique in having both White vestments and a Gloria!

Rubricarius said...


So does the Vigil of the Epiphany.

Fr Simon Henry said...

Dear David, I am in France - so that could explain almost anything!