Historically, there were twelve Old Testament readings at the Easter Vigil. In the 1950s, in the reforms which moved the great Vigil back to the night where it belongs (it had migrated to Saturday morning by the time of Trent), the readings were reduced to four. Fortunately, the reforms after Vatican II increased this to seven readings, which is what we have now. But for pastoral reasons the readings need not all be done – three is the minimum.
A Pray Tell reader writes:
What would be “serious pastoral circumstances” for not using all seven readings at the Easter Vigil? “It’s already a long mass…” “We’re tired…” and “We still have a lot of liturgies to do tomorrow…” are the excuses I’m confronting at my parish. These “reasons” are coming from the clergy. How do I go about inspiring a different mindset to retain the character of the Vigil during the Liturgy of the Word?