The funniest thing I heard at NPM in Pittsburgh…

… was the long-standing custom at the Catholic cathedral in that city for the Easter Vigil to start at 6pm. Why? So it could be done in time for Bingo, which was every Saturday night at 7:30 pm.

Until a certain bishop, now a cardinal in a city 250 miles to the southeast, fixed it. Good for him.

It’s a funny Church. But it’s home.


  1. Why do/did Irish men stand near the back of the Church, at 9:30 Sunday Mass? To be near the door, and so they could make it to the Bar and the bookies, just at opening time. Some were known to wait around for Father’s tips on that afternoon’s races – now that was a PP worth having in your parish.
    And come the Easter Vigil – beginning at the PROPER time of 11:00 after the pubs closed – one of the duties of the Knights was to keep an eye on the parishioners who had trouble staying awake, staying on their feet. No wonder my father was reluctant to allow us to attend either Midnight Mass at Christmas or the Easter Vigil until he felt we were old enough to take on board all that used to go on. He was also relieved that as an altar server I’d be far enough away from the back of the church – safe in the sanctuary. All back in pre-Vatican II days – the “good old days?” of the Extraordinary Form of course.

  2. One reason Paschale Solemnitatis was issued in 1988, Pierre Jounel tells us, is because some Italian pastors were getting through the Easter Vigil in under an hour…….

  3. There are still parishes in Florida, with reports as current as this year, that begin the Easter Vigil at 3 or 4 in the afternoon…. And, no, they are not celebrating the pre-1955 ritual or adhering to the Status Quo that governs the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher….

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #5:
      That happened to me at an upstate New York parish; complete with getting it in under 90 minutes! This was under a new pastor, in a parish that for many years had taken about 3 hours to complete the vigil. Trust me when I say that it was a fitting cap to the Holy Week services that year. The next year I went to another nearby parish for the Triduum.

    2. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #5:
      I supose that one might imagine that some Florida [and Arizona, for that matter] communities needing to start that early to meet the needs of their senior citizen populations [i.e. pretty much the whole parish]. Not saying that it’s the right way to do things, only that I can imagine it, as one of my choir friends dropped out of choir the year after she dropped during Midnight Mass. Pity, she has a wonderful, at least semi-professional voice.

  4. We hear tell about the reformed EV liturgy inaugurated by Pius XII. I remember being there with a hand full of people on a Saturday morning! Thinking back from my present perspective, I don’t think even the clergy knew what was going on. It was simply the new official ritual. I am not surprised, then, that there is a certain number of priests who just don’t grasp what’s really involved in celebrating the EV liturgy well. Perhaps they think that since there’s no baptisms or just a few confirmation candidates, why bother? Or they just don’t think they can get a crowd to come at mid-evening for a couple hours. The EV liturgy is the high point of our parish life each year. The church isn’t packed, but it is very full.

  5. When I was in grad school, I belonged to a parish that celebrated two Vigils, one in Spanish and one in English. The parish administration was rather proud of its two annual “bilingual” Masses (one Spring, one Fall), but sat and stared at me for my suggestion that two ninety-minute Vigils could be marvelously transformed into one trans-cultural effort.

    Easter Sunday was always bigger that Triduum there, anyway. Though one year was remarkable that eight men volunteered to sing the Anglo Vigil–no women, but for the organist.

    Those were interesting days in that parish.

  6. Lynn

    I am fully aware of that rationalization. Nothing that a 3pm Mass on Easter Sunday couldn’t fix…..

  7. One of the most welcoming and heart-warming things I have ever heard at the start of Mass was when I lived in Glasgow. Fr Neil always started by telling us “You are welcome: this is home”. Mass there, EV and otherwise, remains a cherished memory.

    1. @Paul Robertson – comment #11:
      Yet in some quarters, that simple greeting, “You are welcome: this is home”, would be denounced as not being part of the Roman missal (Say the red and do the black). Even worse, the celebrant would be condemned for drawing attention to himself and directing people’s attention away from God!

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