Jul 6, 2017

A Report on the Celebration of the Extended Form of the Vigil Mass for Pentecost

Editor’s note: Father Gill opened the riches of the Extended form of the Vigil of Pentecost in the May 2017 Bulletin. Adoremus followed-up by asking how this year’s Vigil went, especially in light of his recent reflections.

Several-hundred people assembled in the Philadelphia Cathedral on Pentecost Eve to celebrate the Extended Form of the Vigil Mass this past June 3, 2017. This would be the second year in a row for this celebration at the Cathedral. There was a greater ease with the extended form this year and a palpable enthusiasm to celebrate this renewed manner of anticipating the Fiftieth Day of Easter.

The chants, the additional biblical texts, the prayers from the Roman Missal for the Extended Form of the Vigil Mass, all combine to beautifully forecast a new and great outpouring of God, the Holy Spirit, with the Church’s celebration of Pentecost, the birth of the Church. The liturgical content of the Vigil vividly declares that this is moment of urgent prayer as the Church watches and waits with Mary and the Apostles for “the Spirit promised by the Lord.”

Now that the celebration has taken place and Pentecost arrived the following day, a type of mystagogy is in order. Objectively, what are the unique fruits of the celebration of the Extended Form of the Vigil Mass, for all of us who watched and waited in prayer in such a heavenly company? I am certain that there were personal and individual graces and blessings for many who encountered the Lord and his Holy Spirit that Saturday evening. However, with every celebration of the Sacred Liturgy the Church gives an indication of an objectively discernible fruit. What is that fruit for the Pentecost Vigil?

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal gives us an indication of where to go to find a description of the fruit of our liturgical celebrations. It is the Prayer after Communion: “To bring to completion the prayer of the People of God, and also to conclude the whole Communion Rite, the Priest pronounces the Prayer after Communion, in which he prays for the fruits of the mystery just celebrated” (GIRM 89). And so, at the conclusion of this second great Vigil in the Church Year, after meditation on the Word of God as it announces the great deeds of God and engaging in the paschal act of Christ and receiving his Holy Spirit in the Eucharist, we prayed the proper Prayer after Communion “for the fruits of the mystery just celebrated”:

May these gifts we have consumed

benefit us, O Lord,

that we may always be aflame with the same Spirit,

whom you wondrously poured out on your Apostles.

Through Christ our Lord.

With the same confident faith with which we all assembled at this Vigil to hear Jesus announce his own Gospel to us, to actually participate in the death and resurrection of the Lord and receive this same mystery with the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion, we receive the chief fruit of the Extended Form of the Vigil Mass which is to be “aflame with the same Spirit…wondrously poured out on [the] Apostles.” What an amazing fruit! This objective fruit invites all of us who celebrated the Vigil to confess our faith in God, the Holy Spirit, to believe like the Apostles that this same Spirit gives the power to be credible witnesses to the Gospel and to be a part of the Savior’s enduring work through his Church to renew the face of the earth. This fruit, being aflame with the same Spirit, continues to be at work in us and in the Church with every reception of Holy Communion until we will receive it anew at the next Vigil of Pentecost!

Father Dennis Gill

Father Dennis Gill is Rector and Pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia and the Director of the Office for Divine Worship for the Archdiocese. Father Gill completed his graduate studies in Sacred Liturgy at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC and the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Saint Anselmo in Rome. In addition to multiple parish assignments, Father Gill served a five-year term as the Director of Liturgy at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He is professor of Sacred Liturgy at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and lectures on the sacred liturgy throughout the country. Father Gill is author of Music in Catholic Liturgy: A Pastoral and Theological Companion to Sing to the Lord and the forthcoming book, Ars Celebrandi: An Artful and Careful Celebration of the Eucharist, both available from Hillenbrand Books.