Non solum: Pentecost Vigil Mass (Extended Form)

A reader recently wrote in asking for suggestions on how to plan the Pentecost Vigil Mass in its extended form:

No parish I have ever been in has ever celebrated the Pentecost Vigil with the extended Liturgy of the Word. Has anyone/anyplace done so and how has it been received by the people?

A turn to the Roman Missal gives detailed instructions on the structure and organization of the Pentecost Vigil Mass in its simple and extended forms. For those who might not know of the extended form, here is an outline of the basic structure given in the Roman Missal:

  • The Vigil Mass is celebrated Saturday before or after First Vespers of Pentecost Sunday
  • There are two ways to celebrate the extended form of the Vigil Mass:
    • Directly after and attached to First Vespers:
      • It can begin with the introductory verse and hymn, or the entrance antiphon with procession
      • The psalmody for Vespers then follows, up to but not including the short reading
      • After the psalmody the Penitential Act and possibly the Kyrie are omitted.
      • The priest then says the prayer “Grant, we pray, almighty God, that the splendor…”
    • When the Vigil Mass is not attached to First Vespers
      • Mass begins in the usual way
      • After the Kyrie the priest says the prayer “Grant, we pray, almighty God, that the splendor…”
  • Then in both cases the priest introduces the vigil
  • This is followed by 4 Old Testament readings with corresponding psalms. A prayer follows each reading and psalm pairing
    • The readings are from Gn 11:1-9, Ex 19:3-8, 16-20b, Ez 37:1-14, Joel 3:1-5
  • Following the Old Testament readings, the Gloria is sung followed by the Collect
  • The Epistle reading (Rom 8:22-27) is then read and Mass proceeds as normal
  • If, however, First Vespers is attached to the Mass, then after the communion antiphon the Magnificat is sung. This is followed by the Prayer after Communion, and Mass ends in the usual way.

I have never attended a Pentecost Vigil Mass, but I imagine that in many ways it feels like a miniature version of the Easter Vigil. I am curious to hear how others plan and celebrate this liturgy.

How does your community celebrate the Pentecost Vigil Mass? If you celebrate the extended form, how do parishioners react to the full complement of readings?

Please comment below.


  1. I have attended on two occasions the Pentecost vigil at Christ the King in Ann Arbor, MI. Last year, they did the full compliment of readings as described above. It was quite wonderful, and yes it seemed like an organic connection to the Easter Vigil, It was an amazing prayer experience. Christ the King is a charismatic parish.

  2. When I was DRE, we celebrated the vigil as the end of a confirmation retreat. We studied each reading with various activities throughout the day. Then, for the vigil, we had trained each young person and members of their families to read the scripture. It was nice. Plus it was an excellent preparation for confirmation which they received the next Monday.

  3. Last year our creative pastor had the vigil of Pentecost (OF) as an extended form using Vespers I, with Mass continuing at the Gloria and the Magnificat after communion. The sequence for Pentecost was added to the Saturday vigil Mass.

    As I recal there was a stand before the altar containing red oil lamps. Each lector would light one or more following the reading of the lesson. A brazier of burning incense was used throughout the vigil with grains added by each lector and by the acolytes.

    I think the entire vigil plus Mass ran a little over an hour.

    A high Anglican parish not too far away follows the pre-1955 rites with blessing the font, extended use of prophecies etc. So does an SSPX chapel located on the other side of town which continually boasts of its “pre-Bugnini ” liturgies freed of heresy and with “valid” priests.

  4. In any parish I’ve been in we’ve only added the sequence, usually sung by a cantor or organist. This is an improvement over my first assignment; Pentecost was the first weekend in June and it was warm. Our church had no a/c and I preached. It was a short sermon but I felt the day required it. My pastor yelled at me because “when it goes over 80 degrees we don’t preach.” No one had told me that. But I did hear about it from some parishioners as well.
    The idea of a Pentecost Vigil is interesting, but it probably requires some catechesis in advance. And also an special invitation to those who ministered at the Easter Vigil along with those who were part of the RCIA. And FLOWERS. Maybe even “coffee and” afterwards where the recently initiated can be given an opportunity to witness.

  5. The Canadian lectionary has a 7 Old Testament reading option:
    Genesis 2: 4-10, 18, 21-25 (Psalm 8)
    Genesis 11: 1-9 (Psalm 80)
    Exodus 19: 3-8, 16-20 (Psalm 97)
    Proverbs 8:22-31 (Psalm 139)
    Jeremiah 31: 31-34 (Psalm 105)
    Ezekiel 37: 1-14 (Psalm 90)
    Joel 2: 28-32 (Psalm 104)
    You can see even more parallels between the Easter Vigil here (the 2nd creation story, for example)
    Finally, I remember in grad school the Pentecost Vigil was held up as a great opportunity for the sacrament of Confirmation (again, like the Easter Vigil for baptisms).
    Sadly, I’ve never been t one. Clearly I need to get to CTK in Ann Arbor.

  6. Chuck, (or anyone)

    Do you know whether or not the Canadian Roman Missal has additional prayers for after the additional three readings?

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