Holy Saturday altar question

The missal states that “the sacred table is” bare until after the Easter vigil and I am not sure what that means. Surely, altar cloths would be put on the altar before the vigil Mass? One has to make some preparations beforehand, right? Any light anyone can shed on this would be appreciated. Thanks

At my parish, which celebrates the Polish custom of the blessing of the Easter food on Holy Saturday before the Easter Vigil, has the altar bare. There are no altar cloths, no candles, and no flowers in the sanctuary. After the last blessing rite has been celebrated for the day and the faithful leave the Church, a group of parishioners prepare the sanctuary with flowers and the altar cloth is put on the altar along with unlit candles. This happens before the Vigil begins. The altar candles are then relit during the Vigil, after the last reading from the OT is read with its pslam and prayer, right at the start of the Gloria.

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You are correct.

Wait a minute; that prevents the post-liturgy social from growing to the point you don’t have easter dinner at home :slight_smile:

This year, we’re not even pretending to have easter dinner at home. We bless bases after liturgy on Pascha. The sharing afterwards got to the point where we got home, well, full.

This year, Father is bringing ham . . . we’ll do a few dozen deviled eggs.


Our Basilica also has the blessing of food for the Polish community. I know for their Mass, they usually remove the altar frontal and keep images and statues covered in purple or black. On the altar, they just keep the white linen.

My parish does the same. No frontal - just white linen. The altar has a cross engraved on the front, and an IHS stylistic. They cover that in purple until the Vigil. I can’t remember if they take it off before Mass but I’ll tell you after tomorrow night.

This is usually called the ‘stripping of the altar’. All cruifixes should be removed. The ones unremoveable should be covered with cloth.

This is to signify that the sacrifice will not be celebrated as Jesus would descend to hell, until Easter vigil, when Easter would be proclaimed.

By my experience at Easter Vigil, the new Catholics who had just been received into the Church would be the ones to prepare the altar and bring up the gifts during the offeratory.

One can say that the Easter Triduum is one long mass until Easter where we celebrate the mass again. There is no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday, but only until Jesus resurrection. Thus only Communion service, where hosts consecrated earlier on, are distributed.

Easter will be proclaimed during Easter vigil. There will be the proclaiming of word of God, seven readings from the OT and two from the epistles, perhaps retelling God’s plan of salvation for us. In practice, not all readings would be read, depending on various factors during the mass.

I don’t know if it’s right, but my parish waits until the Gloria to send our army of altar boys (usually 12 or so for the Vigil mass), deacons (3), and priests (2 other than the celebrant) to set everything up as it’s sung and the bells are ringing. With that many people moving it doesn’t take very long except for if a short altar boy is given the responsibility of lighting the candles and can’t reach the tall ones on the thing with the tabernacle behind the altar. (Sorry, really blanking on the name.) He just gets to poke with the candle lighter and snuffer and hopes he finds the wick.

The rest of us are just blinking because suddenly there’s much more light in the church because that’s when my parish also turns on all the lights. The Gloria at the Easter Vigil is such a special moment because everything just crescendos from a sparsely lit church with acapella singing for the past seven readings into this flurry of singing, bells ringing, the Church finally visible swamped with lilies and flowers, and the altar is finally set up again for the Mass. The Easter Vigil also is the time of year I see my favorite view of any church I’m in for it; the moment when the only thing in the church are the lights of candles. Tons of little lights but put together they light up the church/world.

For a few years we also did that at the Gloria. All the flowers were stashed behind the altar and when the singing started all who were involved picked up their arrangements and went to place them at the assigned locations while two people dressed the altar. It only took a few minutes since it’s not a large church.

By the time the lights had been fully turned on everything was done and those involved were back in their pews.

I think you mis-read it.

Obviously, the altar cannot be bare during the Vigil Mass. It’s necessary to have the altar cloth, corporal, etc. all on the altar for the celebration of Mass.

What missal are you reading?

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The regular Roman missal, with the 2011 translation.

That’s what it says: what you wrote earlier.

I think it’s just a matter of the sentence clauses being arranged in an order that causes confusion.

What the rubric really means is that there is “no other Mass” until after the Easter Vigil.

At the Vigil Mass, the altar cloths are required (as they are at any other Mass).

So it’s just a confusing way that the rubric is phrased.

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