The Vigil Mass

The Pentecost Vigil Mass is different from Mass on Pentecost Day. During the Vigil, the focus is on praying for the Holy Spirit to come. On Pentecost Day, the focus is on celebrating the Holy Spirit who has already come. The difference is simple but profound. It makes the Pentecost Vigil Mass energizing and unique. It’s the one time during the year when the Church drops everything and just focuses on praying for the Holy Spirit to come again. Praying for the Holy Spirit is central to the Pentecost Vigil Mass. It affects everything about the celebration from the choice of music to what happens immediately before and after Mass.

Like the Easter Vigil, the Pentecost Vigil can be celebrated in a short form or an extended form. The extended version of the Pentecost Vigil includes extra readings, psalms, and prayers. The Pentecost Vigil, however, is not as long as the Easter Vigil. It is not as complicated either. Its structure differs little from an ordinary Sunday Mass. What makes it different is its unique focus on urgent prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit. While the Easter Vigil begins in darkness, the Pentecost Vigil is a feast of light from the very beginning, calling to mind how the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of fire on the apostles at the first Pentecost. For example, when the Pentecost Vigil is celebrated outside in St Peter’s Square in Rome, they light cauldrons of fire in the open air.

The Roman Missal gives detailed instructions for celebrating the Pentecost Vigil Mass in either its short or extended form. The Lectionary contains all of the extra readings for the extended form. For more information about the Pentecost Vigil Mass, consult the Roman Missal’s instructions for the Vigil of Pentecost.

I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD. (Ezekiel 37:14)