Saturday, May 18, 2013

Vigil of Whitsunday

[Station at St. John Lateran.]

The Vigil of Pentecost resembles that of Easter. The Mass for Pentecost, formerly celebrated during the night, has, like the Mass of Easter, since been anticipated. There are six prophecies preceding the Mass, interspersed with Prayers and Tracts; formerly the catechumens, who had not been baptized at Easter, received the Sacrament on Whitsunday. As on Holy Saturday, the baptismal font is blessed and the Litany is sung, and formerly a vigil was kept during the night of Pentecost Saturday to prepare for Baptism. The prayers following the prophecies, however, and the composition of the Mass show us that the chief object of this solemnity is to celebrate the Descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles gathered together in the cenacle.

After the Vigil, the clergy change their purple or violet-­hued vestments for others of red, assigned to Masses of the Holy Ghost, in allusion to the fiery tongues of Pentecost. As on Holy Saturday, the Introit is omitted from the high Mass of Whitsun-Eve and the church bells are rung at the Gloria in excelsis.

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