In lieu of the Pontifical Solemn Mass of the Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary scheduled for August 14 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, now canceled, The Paulus Institute provides here a selection of sources for your appreciation of the Vigil Mass— its placement in the history of over a millennium in the traditional liturgical calendar of the Church, the proper of the Vigil Mass, recollections, and prayers for your reflection and spiritual edification.
From the reflections of the 19th century French priest and Benedictine monk Dom Prosper Guéranger, 40 years Abbot of the monastery of Solesmes, from his masterpiece The Liturgical Year, we offer his words as a preface here, reminding us why the vestments and altar coverings for the Vigil Mass are violet, in preparation for the glorious Feast of the Assumption:
“Let us enter into the sentiments of the Church, who prepares by the fasting and abstinence of this Vigil to celebrate the triumph of Mary. Man may not venture to join on earth in the joys of heaven, without first acknowledging that he is a sinner and a debtor to the justice of God.”
To download the notice, click this link: Recollection intro – 8.8.2021
Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Mass to have been said according to the Classical Roman Rite on August 14, 2021, at the High Altar of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is that of The Vigil of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The liturgy of the vigil Mass is typically a preparation for the feast the next day. However, the Vigil of the Assumption has its own auspicious history.
Observance of the Vigil of the Assumption of Our Lady rests upon ancient origins. The image here is the parchment of the Gellone Sacramentary, 780 AD, showing the Mass of the Vigil of the Assumption beginning with the decorative “S” (as per Gregory DiPippo, the New Liturgical Movement blog, August 14, 2020, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 12048).
Vigils are known from the earliest Christian days, and were commended by St. Augustine and St. Jerome. From the Latin “vigilia,” a vigil traditionally is a penitential day of preparation for a major feast, on which the faithful disposed themselves for the coming feast day.
The Vigil of the Assumption is one of seventeen vigils before feast days in the traditional Roman Rite calendar, besides Holy Saturday before Easter (not including those of dioceses and orders), and is one of only four that are fast days in the United States under the Classical Rite, along with the vigils of Christmas, Pentecost, and All Saints.
The Pontifical Vigil Mass is celebrated in violet vestments, but with deacon and subdeacon wearing the dalmatic and tunicle (which does not occur in (penitential) Lent). There is no Gloria or Credo. The Alleluia is omitted before the Gospel, and at the end of Mass, the Benedicamus Domino is said instead of Ite, missa est. As August 14 is also the feast day of St. Eusebius, commemorations of him are said at the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion.
To View and Download the Full Document, Click Here: The Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
New Liturgical Movement
Friday, August 14, 2020
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The Vigil of the Assumption
In the Roman Rite, the term “vigilia – vigil” traditionally means a penitential day of preparation for a major feast. The Mass of a Saint’s vigil is celebrated after None, as are the Masses of the ferias of Lent or the Ember Days, and in violet vestments; however, the deacon and subdeacon do not wear folded chasubles, as they do in Lent, but the dalmatic and tunicle. The Mass has neither the Gloria nor the Creed, the Alleluja is simply omitted before the Gospel, not replaced with a Tract, and Benedicamus Domino is said at the end in place of Ite, missa est.
Folio 102v of the Gellone Sacramentary, 780 AD; the Mass of the Vigil of the Assumption begins with the decorative S just under the middle of the page. The prayers given here are different from those of the Gregorian Sacramentary which are described below. Above it is the Mass of St Eusebius, which is still kept as a commemoration on the vigil to this day in the Extraordainry Form. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 12048)
The Vigil of the Assumption is not attested in the most ancient liturgical books of the Roman Rite, most notably, the oldest form of the Gelasian Sacramentary, ca. 750 AD. It is found in the Gellone Sacramentary only 30 years later, and in all copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary. In the Roman Missal, the Gregorian chant parts are all taken from other Masses of the Virgin Mary. The Introit Vultum tuum is also sung on the Annunciation and at the Votive Mass of the Virgin in Christmastide, which indicates that the salvation of the human person in both body and soul, which God begins to effect in the Incarnation, and which He manifests to the world with His birth, is first perfected when His Mother is assumed into heaven body and soul.
The Epistle is taken from the twenty-fourth chapter of Sirach, in which Wisdom, understood in medieval tradition as a figure of the Virgin Mary, “praises her own self, and is honored in God, … and among the blessed is blessed, etc.” The verses selected for the vigil are 23-31, the first of which may have been chosen in reference to the tradition that after the Assumption, flowers grew out of the stone floor of the tomb in which the Apostles had laid Her body to rest. “As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odor: and my flowers are the fruit of honor and riches.” And likewise, the last verse, “They that explain me shall have life everlasting”, points to the Virgin as the first-fruits of mankind’s eternal redemption in Her Son.
The feast of the Assumption was adopted into the Roman Rite from the Byzantine towards the end of the 7th century, under Pope St Sergius I (687-701), who was of Syrian origins, but born and raised in Palermo, Sicily, then part of the Byzantine Empire. In the Byzantine Rite, two separate parts of St Luke’s Gospel are taken together as a single reading at the Divine Liturgy, chapter 10, 38-42, in which the Lord tells Martha that her sister Mary “hath chosen the better part”, and chapter 11, 27-28, in which a woman in the crowd says to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore thee.” In the Wurzburg lectionary, the oldest of the Roman Rite, which is roughly contemporary with Pope Sergius, these readings are both given for the “birth (into heaven) of St Mary”, but as two separate entries; it may be that they were nevertheless read together as in the Greek tradition. However, the Roman Rite makes almost no use of these kinds of composite readings, and in the second oldest lectionary, that of Murbach, from roughly a century later, the second part has disappeared. Its association with the Assumption was then preserved by assigning it to the vigil.
The most interesting aspect of the Mass is the evolution of its prayers. The collect appears in the Gregorian Sacramentary (ca. 800 AD) in the same form it has in the Missal of St Pius V.
“Deus, qui virginálem aulam beátae Maríae, in qua habitáres, elígere dignátus es: da, quaesumus; ut, sua nos defensióne munítos, jucundos facias suae interesse festivitáti. – O God, Who deigned to choose for Thy dwelling the virginal womb (lit. ‘court’) of the blessed Mary, grant, we beseech Thee, that, protected by Her defense, we may with joy take part in her festival.”
In its original form, the Secret is very unusual in that it contains no petition.
“Magna est, Dómine, apud clementiam tuam Dei Genetrícis oratio: quam idcirco de praesenti saeculo transtulisti; ut pro peccátis nostris apud te fiduciáliter intercédat. – Great before Thy clemency, o Lord, is the prayer of the Mother of God, whom Thou didst transport from this present age for this reason, that She might confidently intercede with Thee for our sins.”
The first part of Mass of the Vigil of the Assumption in the Echternach Sacramentary, 895 AD, with the alteration of the verb “est” to “sit”, as noted below. Note that another scribe, still perhaps worried that the prayer was still not sufficently petitionary, added the words “pro nobis – for us.” (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 9433)
Already by the end of the ninth century, this prayer appears in the Echternach Sacramentary with a very slight emendation; the first verb is changed to the subjunctive, which makes it a petition: “Magna sit… – May the prayer of the Mother of God be great… ” This was evidently still deemed too unlike a typical Secret, and was later emended again to the more conventional form it has in the Tridentine Missal, “Munera nostra … commendet oratio – May the prayer of the Mother of God commend our offerings… ”
It is a well-known fact that although the Church has officially defined the fact of the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption, it has never formally pronounced on the question of whether She died first or not. However, the weight of tradition, going back to the very earliest Eastern sources, is very much of the opinion that She did die first. This is explicitly stated in many prayers used on the feast of the Assumption in the West, including the Post-Communion of the vigil in its original form.
“Concéde, miséricors Deus, fragilitáti nostrae praesidium: ut, qui sanctae Dei Genetrícis requiem celebrámus; intercessiónis ejus auxilio, a nostris iniquitátibus resurgámus. – Grant, o merciful God, Thy protection for our frailty, that we who celebrate the repose of the holy Mother of God, may rise again from our iniquities with the help of Her intercession.”
In the context of the Roman Rite, in which the liturgy for the dead repeatedly uses the words “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine”, this should certainly be read as an allusion to the belief that the Virgin Mary did in fact die before the Assumption. It also looks forward to the traditional Epistle of the feast itself, Sirach 24, 11-20 (minus verse 14), which begins with the words “In all things I sought rest (requiem), and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.” The editors of the Tridentine Missal, however, decided to take a more neutral stance on a point thitherto undefined, and therefore changed “requiem celebrámus” to “festivitátem praevenímus – look forward to Her festivity.”
The Assumption of the Virgin, ca. 1665, by Juan Martín Cabezalero (1633-73).
To Download the Full Document, Click Here: DiPippo New Liturgical Movement Vigil 8-10 2021
On the Vigil of the Assumption
According to the traditional discipline, prior to Vatican II, this entire day, August 14th, the Vigil of the Assumption, [is] a day of fast and complete abstinence. On Traditional Latin Mass fast days, such as today . . . only one full meal [is] allowed. Two other meals [are] permitted to maintain one’s health, but together should not equal a full meal. The complete abstinence that [is] required on the Vigil of the Assumption [forbids] the eating of meat, or of soups and gravies made of meat. Eating between meals [is] prohibited, but liquids, including fruit juices and milk, [are] allowed. Where health or the ability to perform one’s work would be negatively impacted, the laws did not apply. The law of fast [is] binding between the ages of 21 to 59, inclusive. Everyone over 7 years of age [is] bound by the law of abstinence . . . .
To remind us that today is a penitential day, the Traditional Latin Mass priest wears purple (violet) vestments for the Vigil of the Assumption. In the classic work, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Gihr, he writes:
“Violet is a fitting emblem of that holy sadness pleasing to God, which produces a spirit of penance steadfast unto salvation (II Cor. 7:10), and also of that laudable sorrow felt by the soul in being obliged to remain far from the Lord in a world foreign to her, which daily, even hourly, endangers her salvation.”
“…violet reminds the faithful that they should be intent upon appeasing the justice of God by penance and by cleansing their hearts from sin; they should implore God to free them from famine and tribulation and turn away from them calamities and divine judgments.”
[Today’s] Vigil Mass is a preparation for the worthy celebration of tomorrow’s Feast of the Assumption. Please note that “Vigils” of the Traditional Latin Mass traditionally [do] NOT fulfill your obligation to attend the next day’s required Mass. In other words, [today’s] Vigil Mass is not the Mass of the Assumption– you . . . have to attend the Mass of the Assumption tomorrow.
Fr. Ladis J. Cizik
The Remnant Newspaper
August 14, 2015
To Read More from the Remnant Newspaper, Click Here
Ecce Nunc Tempus Acceptabile
To Download the Document, On the Vigil of the Assumption – Remnant