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pre-'55 Easter Vigil

Started by Geremia, April 13, 2020, 04:00:17 PM

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Look at 38:25ff. of this.
I've never been blessed to be to assist at a pre-'55 Easter Vigil, but everything makes more sense in it. The Exultet is the blessing of the candle, and its memorable "O vere beáta nox, quæ exspoliávit Ægýptios, ditávit Hebrǽos!" ("O truly blessed night, which plundered the Egyptians and enriched the Hebrews!") is when the church lamps are turned on, which makes much more sense.
Blessing the candle in the sanctuary also avoids problems with the wind blowing the candle out.


FIUV Positio paper  N. 14, The Holy Week reform of 1955, Part I: General Comments:
QuoteThe Timing of the Ceremonies
11. One of the most striking changes made by the reform was to the timing of the services. In the 1570 Missal the services are to be celebrated at the standard time for Lenten Masses, after None (9am). In origin the Easter Vigil had been celebrated during the night,20 the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday in the evening (in memory of the Last Supper),21 and the Mass of the Presanctified, on Good Friday, at the time of the Crucifixion, in the afternoon.22 At the same time, Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds), originally celebrated during the night (starting at midnight), came to be celebrated on the evening of the day before. The process of anticipation, complete by 1570, began in the 10th century.  The tendency to celebrate the Holy Week services earlier in the day can be also be seen in the Eastern Churches.

12. In assessing this, it should be noted, first, that the celebration of these services, outside the ideal conditions of a monastery, seminary or parish dedicated to the Extraordinary Form, frequently has to make do with times when churches and sacred ministers are available, and it would be a pastoral mistake, at the present juncture, to be too prescriptive.

13. Secondly, it must be observed that the tendency to anticipate the Vigil has strongly reasserted itself since 1970. The reality is that for many Catholics, particularly those with small children or those (such as many attached to the Extraordinary Form) who have to travel any distance to attend the service, a service starting at Midnight and ending after 2am is neither attractive nor practicable. It is also usually regarded as incompatible with attendance at the Mass of Easter Day. A late-night vigil is clearly not ideal from the point of view of encouraging attendance at as many of these important services as possible.

14. Thirdly, Tenebrae are very moving liturgies of the night or evening, with a highly effective use of the symbolism of light and darkness. In the reform they are to be celebrated in the mornings, to make way for the principal services;23 this is little short of a disaster.

15. Finally, as with so much in the history of the liturgy, symbolic meaning came to be attached to the timing of the liturgies, and this symbolism can still speak to us today. As Pope Benedict XVI has written:
QuoteThe day on which I was baptized, as I said, was Holy Saturday. At that time [1927], the practice was still that of anticipating Easter Vigil on the morning, after which the gloom of Holy Saturday continued, without the Alleluia. It seems to me that this peculiar paradox, this peculiar anticipation of the light on a dark day, could be almost an image of history in our time. On one hand, there is still the silence of God and of his absence, but, in the Resurrection of Christ, there is already the anticipation of God's 'yes', and we live based on this anticipation, and, through the silence of God, we feel his words, and, through the darkness of his absence, we foresee his light. The anticipation of the Resurrection amidst a history that goes on is the strength that shows us the path and helps us move forward.24

20. Or, as it is sometimes described, the 'morning', which is to say the early morning before dawn.

21. In Rome, the Pope would celebrate a single Mass at noon, in which he blessed the oils, while in the rest of the city (whose liturgy is preserved in the Old Gelasian Sacramentary) three Masses were celebrated: a morning Mass with the reconciliation of penitents, a chrism Mass at noon, and an evening Missa in Coena Domini ad sero. However it was the papal ('Gregorian') books which were adopted, with additions, in Alcuin's reform of the Frankish liturgy under Charlemagne, and it was this reform which found its way back to Rome in later centuries. So the Maundy Thursday Mass of the 1570 Missal derives ultimately from the noon Mass of the Pope, rather than the ancient evening Mass of the day. See Goddard p134.

22. In the Old Gelasian tradition, in the 8 th century, it is celebrated at 3pm; in the 12th century Pontifical it is celebrated at noon, which is given in the 1474 Missale Romanum; celebration in the morning developed later.  See Goddard pp173.

23. Paschal Matins, which was celebrated on Holy Saturday evening at the first Office of Easter, was abolished altogether: on this see Positio 14 Part II, §12.

24. Pope Benedict XVI: Homily, Thanksgiving birthday Mass, April 16, 2012
Quotea number of bishops complained of the practical difficulties of the Vigil,28 notably the exhaustion of clergy who were expected to hear confessions all day and start a lengthy and demanding service late at night.29

28. Bishops sending in negative reports about the experimental use of the reformed Holy Week services include Mgr Felice Bonomini, Bishop of Como; Cardinal Siri, Archbishop of Genoa; and Mgr Cornelio Cuccarollo, Archbishop of Otranto. See Reid ibid. [Organic Development of the Liturgy] p222, note 270.
29. This problem was noted by the official report into the experiment, a Positio composed by Cardinal Antonelli and published by the Sacred Congregation for Rites in 1955. See Reid ibid. pp221-2, and note 269.