What can you tell me about the Easter Vigil?


It’s less than two weeks now until my RCIA class is brought into the church at Easter Vigil :slight_smile: we have our rehearsal on Thursday evening and then that’s it, we will be ready to go. I haven’t been to Easter Vigil before, and when I was chatting with my sponsor this afternoon she said it is generally about three hours long. It starts at eight and she said the last time she went, it was over around 11pm. We both have young children so it isn’t the usual mass for us.

What is different about it than a usual Mass? What makes it take so much longer? I must admit I’m pretty excited for this night to come :smiley: just have to line up a baby sitter and have my confession! What a year it’s been!


I love the Easter Vigil! The reason it takes so long is because it has up to seven readings that basically describe the history of mankind leading up to Christ’s resurection and then they have the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation as well as the regular Mass. It’s a really beautiful liturgy. I hope you will enjoy it.


Yep. It’s really mostly the same thing. It just takes a lot longer because of Baptism, Confirmation, the fact that there are as many as 7 OT readings (plus an Epistle and a Gospel reading, of course), and the lengthy prayer at the beginning.


I have done the EV for all of the past twenty years except 2000.

I love it. Yes, it is long, but if it could ever happen that I would awaken from being dead, I hope that people would celebrate with me! So shouldn’t we do so for our LORD?



The Easter Vigil is the holiest night of the year. We wait in vigil during the night to anticipate the Resurrection of Christ. It is the night new Christians are brought into the Church.

And yes, it starts late and goes for a looong time!

Small children should probably be at home asleep instead of at the Vigil.


I love it too.

We go every year.

Just plan for it to be a long Mass. I make sure I eat before I leave my house. The rule is one hour before Communion, and you won’t be cutting it close. You don’t want to be hungry at Easter Vigil. I also make sure I bring tissues, because I cry when people are baptized. :blush:

Young children, unless they are also coming into the Church, probably should be at home in bed.

Last year there was a woman there with her 5 year old. I felt so sorry for the child. You could tell the little girl was tired and simply wanted to go home and go to bed. She ended up falling asleep in the pew. So she was there, but not really. :shrug:


The Easter Vigil is the way that the Church truly shows that Easter is the Sunday of Sundays - the greatest of all feasts. It is when we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead - destroying death and restoring us to eternal life. Yet, Easter would not have happened without Good Friday, which is why going to all the Triduum Masses allows us to fully appreciate the Resurrection.

There are several reasons why the Easter Vigil is much longer than an ordinary Mass. The Easter Vigil starts with the Service of Light, where we light the first fire, the priest blesses the fire, and uses the fire to light the Easter Candle. The light from the Easter Candle is used to light candles held by the assembly. As the entire church is in darkness, the lights from these candles light up the entire church, as the priest, deacon, or cantor sings the Exultet.

After this, all candles except the Easter candle are extinguished, and we begin the Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy of the Word is also longer on the Easter Vigil, as there are anywhere from 2 to 7 readings from the Old Testament. After the readings from the Old Testament are read, the Church rises for the great Gloria (which had been put away for Lent, having only being sung on the feasts of the Annunciation, St. Joseph, and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday)), accompanied by bells. This is followed by a reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans. Finally, the great Alleluia is sung, and the deacon (or priest, if no deacon is present) reads the Gospel.

After the homily, we go to the Sacraments of Initiation. The priest uses the Easter Candle to bless the new water in the baptismal font. He asks the Elect to renounce their sins and profess their Christian faith. The Elect are then led to the font as the assembly sings the Litany of Saints. The Elect are then baptized and leave temporarily while they change into their baptismal garments. During this time, the rest of the assembly is asked to renew their baptismal promises and are either sprinkled with or asked to bless themselves with the newly blessed water. After this, the neophytes are welcomed into the Church as newly baptized Christians, and asked to keep their baptismal garments unstained. Then, the neophytes are given the sacrament of Confirmation. In general, the sacrament of Confirmation is to be done by the bishop, but for the Easter Vigil, most bishops grant their pastors the authority to confirm in their name. The Sacrament of Confirmation consists of the laying on of hands and of the anointing with Sacred Chrism (the bishop/priest says “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” as he anoints with the Chrism). After this, the Mass continues with the Prayers of the Faithful, and then continues as normal.

As such, the Easter Vigil is much longer due to the Service of Light, extra readings, and the Sacraments of Initiation. Depending on how many readings are read, the length of the homily, and how many people are being received into the Church, the Easter Vigil can last anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to over 4 or 5 hours. In the early Church, the Vigil started at sundown and generally lasted until sunrise.


Well explained.


Yeah, it’s long, but it’s my understanding it’s shorter than the early Christians used to use. I think they used to be up all night! I think that’s what one priest told us.


Congrats! I cannot wait either!

All of the stuff the RCIA IS DOING takes time…baptisms confirmations etc.

The mass also starts outside and everyone enters the dark church by candlelight and everyone’s candles are lit symbolizing Christ rising from the darkness of death. The light of the world lives!

There are also generally more readings.

It should be awesome (you can watch on YouTube to get an idea) I haven’t been in person just learned about it and watched online. I can’t wait!


First, I’d like to say WELCOME HOME! :slight_smile: I’m so glad you’re “almost there” and I know how exciting it is because I, too, am a Catholic convert. :smiley:

The Easter Vigil is amazing … it is so beautiful words can hardly describe it. I have gone every year since becoming Catholic and each year it becomes more meaningful to me. I love seeing all of the new faces coming into the Church and I end up a teary-eyed mess after all the baptisms (tears of joy, of course!) because all I can think of as each person is getting baptized and receiving the Sacraments is that they are willingly becoming a part of God’s family. It’s an incredible feeling. You’ll know what I mean shortly. :wink:

But yes, the vigil does take a while because of all the extra things they do that they don’t do in regular mass. Our parish usually takes between three and four hours, depending on how many are going to be baptized. It’s usually not the ideal place for young children because it tends to start rather late in the evening. I remember one year, a little boy was being baptized and he was completely passed out, sound asleep, and his uncle just picked him up, carried him over to the priest and the priest woke him up by pouring water on his head to baptize him, LOL!! While it was a wonderful thing that was being done, I’m sure the little one would have appreciated being woke up in a different manner, haha!

I will be thinking of you and praying for you at the Easter vigil! :slight_smile:


I can only put it this way.

I teach RCIA for only one reason. Over the course of all those months from September until the Easter Vigil, I spend between 3 to 10 hours a week in preparation for my class, whether I have one student or 18. It doesn’t matter. I show up every week without fail, and spend two hours imparting as much as I can about Mother Church to those who come. I try hard to bring a love of the Eucharist, and solid Catechism to them.


Because of the Easter Vigil. It’s all because of those three hours. They are the most important three hours of those people’s lives. Ever. I get to witness a death to life experience! These people’s lives, through the grace of Baptism, will never be the same. The evening itself is a journey of salvation history, and it culminates in Salvation History of these people. The joy I see on their faces, the transformation is so real, that over the last 12 years I’ve done this, is the most amazing thing ever.

And now it will be your turn. LIVE this EASTER WEEK, walking in the footsteps of Christ, in real time. You will be sitting with Him at the last Supper. You will be there when He washes the feet of the aspostles. THen follow him into the Garden (Area of Repose) where you can cry with him, as he waits for the guards. Then Friday, notice when you walk into the church, without the presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, how UNALIVE it is. Christ is not present. You can feel the loss. Experience the Passion of our Lord, like never before. Then go home. Await with awe, excitement and trepidation, because the very next day, Saturday, you, along with Christ, will rise again, an adopted child of Our Lord. Never to be the same again. My prayers are with you.


It’s beautiful. Try to go from Thursday, also Friday, try to go to the prayers, all the activities, it is a beautiful yet enlightening moment.



Like my confessor says: If you are not going to do the Triduum, there is no point to doing Lent!



Yes! It’s not 3 celebrations, it’s ONE continuous celebration! A priest explained this once during a homily. He pointed out that on Holy Thursday, after Holy Communion the Blessed Sacrament is transferred to the Altar of Repose where He will remain until Easter Vigil. We leave in silence. We begin and end the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday in silence. We begin Easter Vigil with the blessing of the new fire - NOT an opening hymn. Why? Because it’s a continuous celebration. This year, I plan to see if we can take DSD for the first time. She’s 9 so I think she is old enough now to stay up late and to sit through the whole thing. (Easter Vigil celebrations MUST begin at or after sundown - here they are slated for 9 p.m.)


I’m so glad I asked :slight_smile: it sounds simply amazing! I’m definitely excited and humbled that I will be there, participating at last.

My kids will definitely be home, they go to bed before 8pm anyway, so I knew they wouldn’t be able to come. It’s ok, we will get up and go to Easter mass together!


If you really want to see it go to youtube and search for Easter Vigil Mass. It’s so beautiful. Smells, bells, and lots of holy water flying! When I professed my faith and entered the Church last year, the two hours went by in a flash. Not so much my family, though LOL. Now my husband is preparing to be received at the EV in just 12 short but very long days and I can hardly wait.



If I may add one more day, a lot really begins this Sunday with Palm Sunday. But, the whole week, with Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and the washing of the feet, the continuation onto Friday, then Saturday vigil. If you can if theirs an adoration chapel go to it to, spend some time there with our Lord. It is such a beautiful time, with mystery but with a lot of love.


I was just reminded of the Chrism mass also. It is the mass the Bishop holds for anointing all the Chrism oils used in the diocese this years. Ours is the Monday of Holy Week but I do not know if that is standard. It is the oil the candidates and elect will be receiving so we are highly encouraged to attend.


Our priest would disagree with you. Our Easter vigil starts at 11:00 pm and ends around 2:30 am and he strongly encourages parents to bring their children to the Easter vigil.

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