Easter vigil time?

Here’s a bit of a nitpick, but I’m curious. Looking at the bulletins of different parishes mine has the Easter Vigil scheduled at 8.00 pm, another at 7.30 and a third at 7.00, yet all three state “earliest time for vigil Mass” or the like.

So I checked at the Naval Observatory website and got:

Sunset 7:33 p.m.
End civil twilight 8:02 p.m.

What’s civil twilight? And is that a more correct time than sunset?

As far as I understand, evening civil twilight begins at sunset and ends when the center of the Sun reaches 6° below the horizon (the point of civil dusk).

But as far as I know, the earliest time of the Easter Vigil only depends on when the sun sets and nothing more.

According to the US Catholic Bishops website those who plan the Easter Vigil should contact the local weather authorities to determine the time the sun sets and then add at least 45 minutes.

Some bishops make a determination of the earliest possible time for all parishes in their diocese.

April 11, 2009
Holy Saturday (day)

(PN): Holy Communion is given only as viaticum (before the Easter Vigil).

The Easter Vigil (night)

(PN): While liturgical protocol states that the Easter Vigil should begin after nightfall (post initium noctis) and end before dawn of Easter Sunday, Bishop Leonard Blair has indicated that the celebration of the Easter Vigil may begin at 8:30 p.m. in the Diocese of Toledo.

I find the questions in this forum with respect to the liturgy to be very interesting. Fostoria, is, of course, in the Diocese of Toledo, but, our Easter Vigil Mass begins at 8 PM. Sunset is at 8:07 PM (Fri. sunset … this is DST … daily savings time.)


PS Bishop Leonard Blair will be turning 60 on Easter Sunday, this year. Happy Birthday Bishop!

Bottom line…when the Easter Vigil may be started should be promulgated by each Bishop.

The Easter Vigil should begin when it is dark. Ours in beginning at 8PM and as of last night it was dark at that time…except that the moon was bright.

Yes, it should start when it’s full dark, which is a lot later than sunset. Our Vigil starts at 9 p.m.

Fr. Z has a good explanation here.

That is correct as long as it is not before Sunset local time!

Thanks for all the responses.
I should correct my original post, the church with the 7.00 vigil did not claim to be the earliest possible. Actually, it’s a Franciscan chapel in a strip mall & sunset may not be an issue for them since, IIRC, they don’t have any windows.

The start time is based on the time of sunset not if you can see it or not. It has been said that when people have morals , no laws or rules are necessary. When people have no morals then all the laws and rules will make no difference.

Ours is slated to begin at 8:45 p.m.

Vigil starts at 10:30PM here.

Yes, here in the Edmonton Archdiocese, Archbishop Smith sent out a memo to all the parishes, stating that the Vigils couldn’t start until 10 pm…so ours is right at 10 tomorrow. As of tonight (it is 10 pm right now), it is pitch dark outside, so it will be awesome tomorrow night when the fire is lit in the midst of complete darkness :thumbsup:

When in doubt, always consult Paschale Solemnitatis, which notes that:

  1. “The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil takes place at night. It should not begin before nightfall; it should end before daybreak on Sunday.” [82] This rule is to be taken according to its strictest sense. Reprehensible are those abuses and practices that have crept into many places in violation of this ruling, whereby the Easter Vigil is celebrated at the time of day that it is customary to celebrate anticipated Sunday Masses. [83]

Thus, it’s not so much for the local ordinary to decide; rather, Rome has already issued its decree. In fact, as PS notes, the rule should be taken according to its strictest sense; thus, it does not leave much wiggle room. Ours is beginning at 8:30PM, as is the Cathedral’s. Unfortunately, there are three parishes in my diocese that are having the Vigil at 7PM.

Well, I asked our Pastor about the time, and he said that he hadn’t known when the sun set. I told him 8:05 PM, and I mentioned the Bishop’s okay of 8:30 PM. He asked me what Bishop and where. It was our Bishop.

Some of you say the time, but, you do not have your location listed. I really think that 8:30 would have been better than 8 but I shrugged it off. I think that it may have been discussed, as we have, now, 3 deacons, 2 priests and, maybe there is a seminarian visiting!

IMO, I thought maybe that the beginning ceremony of light would take up a half hour, with a little dwadling. I know that one year I stood outside, around the small fire, and it may have been 15 minutes … who can remember these details: I remember a smile between me and another parishioner, who is now deceased.

(BTW, very interesting postings at the Fr. Z.'s site! This one for instance: As a practical matter, nautical twilight is a better approximation of the ancient understanding of darkness than the more modern astronomical twilight. By nautical twilight, one would have great difficult discerning the horizon line at sea.The Muslims have a great way of discerning darkness – the point at which you cannot tell the difference between a black and a white thread in natural light outdoors. Also learned the def. of “epikeia.”)

Easter Vigil Mass on EWTN from the Vatican starts at 3 PM DST.

Holy Week/Easter schedule set

The Holy Week and Easter schedule for Saint Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, IN, has been set. The public is invited to join the Benedictine monks for these services in the Archabbey Church. All times are Central time.

Easter Sunday, April 12 3:00 a.m. Easter Vigil and Lauds


Our Vigil here in the UK, begins at 10.30pm.

I’m to be confirmed tonight…it’s been a long journey to get here :slight_smile:

Well, I asked our Pastor about the time, and he said that he hadn’t known when the sun set.


Guess it never occurred to him to call the weather bureau and ask. Until last year’s missive from the Bishop announcing the time, I had always called the weather office at the military base to ask for the time of sunset and the Vigil was always scheduled at least 30 minutes later. The guys used to know why I was calling and they always made a point of saying, “Sunset is at this time, you can expect full dark at that time …”

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