17 March 2010

To Offer, or Not to Offer, the Sacrament at Easter Vigil

The Holy Saturday Vigil of Easter has the option of offering the Sacrament as the conclusion of the Service. Are there good reasons for or against this practice? In the past I have offered this Service at around 7 p.m. on Holy Saturday, and have always offered the Sacrament. It seems strange, however, to do so when the culmination of the Easter celebration is on Sunday morning in the Chief Service. It feels like I am "jumping the gun." Not that I am ever opposed to offering the Lord's Supper (this is why I am not a fan of options in the Divine Service--I'm too indecisive!). Can we hear from some of the other Blackbirds concerning this? What would be the most proper way to do this service? I don't know if it helps or not, but we have an Easter sunrise service, breakfast, and then the main Communion Service. I had planned on just having an Easter Matins service for sunrise, and then the Communion offered at our usual time.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Having the supper at the Vigil would be most appropriate - for when it was the service where the candidates would be baptized, there would their first communion afterwords. If you have a vigil, the point is that the vigil gives way to the feast and joy and celebration. Celebrate on!

+ Robert Wurst said...

We offer the Sacrament. It *is* an Easter service. Though I must admit to some second thoughts at times.

Actually, since Schaibley did it at Zion, Fort Wayne, I simply followed my father.

Now, why shouldn't I offer it on Good Friday? ;) (no, I don't tenebrae with most of the lcms.)

Chris Jones said...

I can hardly believe that there should even be a question about this. Of course the Easter Vigil culminates in the Eucharist. How could it be otherwise?

The Eucharist is the Gospel. The Resurrection is the Gospel. The reason why we celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays is because every Sunday is a feast of the Resurrection -- a little Easter. On Easter itself, there is all the more reason to offer the Eucharist.

If we don't celebrate the Mass on Easter then we have not kept the feast. Fr Wurst is right: it is an Easter service, and in fact anciently the Vigil was the only Easter service. How can we celebrate the principal service of Pascha without serving the Divine Liturgy?

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Uh, Chris--not to burst your bubble or anything, but I did indicate that the Eucharist would be celebrated on Sunday morning. The question I'm asking, which you so un-gently responded to, was whether or not the culmination of Easter should be on Easter Sunday in the Divine Liturgy or on Holy Saturday (or both?).

Chris Jones said...

Fr Beisel,

I apologize for being "un-gentle." I can only plead that I was genuinely surprised by the question.

whether or not the culmination of Easter should be on Easter Sunday in the Divine Liturgy or on Holy Saturday

This way of framing the question is clarifying; but the question is not "Holy Saturday or Easter Sunday?" but "which service on Easter Sunday?"

The liturgical day begins at sundown and continues until the following sundown (And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night; and the evening and the morning were the first day. Gn 1.5). Thus since the Vigil occurs after sundown, it is not the last service of Holy Saturday, but the first service of Easter Sunday. As I noted in my previous, un-gentle comment, the Vigil was anciently the only service of Easter, and even today it is (or should be) the principal service of Easter. That can be seen from the fact that it is liturgically the fullest and richest service of the feast (and indeed of the whole Christian year).

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I beg your pardon for raising my hand here, and my voice as it were, when this was clearly addressed to those who are not me.

I agree with those who have answered already, but wanted to state it in a different way. You mentioned the possibility of Matins on Sunday. The proper way to think of your liturgical options is that if you have the Paschal Vigil, then this is a liturgy which both has the Eucharist, as its own culmination, and has 'vigils' (or Matins) of Easter. Even Lauds is incorporated into the Vigil Mass with the singing of Ps. 150 after Communion.

So, in other words, properly speaking, you could have Matins on Sunday, but only if you did not have the Easter Vigil. Compline that night, as well as Matins and Lauds, are prayed by those who cannot make it to the Vigil.

Of course there is a second Mass of Easter, the one that takes place sometime that morning, and it should not be neglected. I hasten to add that the Easter breakfast ideally takes place after this second Mass, thereby properly and festively "breaking the fast" of both Lent and the Eucharist.

This answer does not take into account pastoral considerations, which obviously each pastor must face.

Pr. H. R. said...

Fr. Beisel,

Easter Vigil is the big one - check out the "This is the Night" prayer at the beginning. The Church is so excited about Easter that she celebrates it ASAP - as soon as it is Sunday, as soon as the sun is down.

So yes: Easter Vigil gets a Mass. Chalk this up to another goofy LSB rubric.


Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I don't have before me the LSB Altar Book, so would someone please share exactly what it says about this? Thanks.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Deacon Gaba,

I think the rubric to which Fr. Curtis refers is this:

"If there is no Communion, the Vigil concludes with the prayer and blessing on page 550" (LSB Altar Book, p. 549).

That's all I can find anyway.

Pastor Peters said...

Better the Vigil without the Mass than no Vigil at all...

The Vigil was not an early evening service like it is in our churches today but took place just before dawn so that the Easter side of the Vigil and the Mass took place as light was dawning...

Given that we are not in a position to do this, I do not find it so bad to separate the Mass from the Vigil. Indeed, our first Easter Mass (of 3) begins right where the Vigil pauses -- to connect the two...