VIGIL OF PENTECOST
Station at St John Lateran
The ancient Vigil of Pentecost is modelled after the Vigil of Easter, and similar to it was a place for Baptisms. It consists of the reading of Old-Testament prophecies.
In those days: God tempted Abraham, and said to him: Abraham, Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. He said to him: Take thine only begotten son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and go into the land of vision; and there thou shalt offer him for an holocaust upon one of the mountains, which I will show thee. So Abraham, rising up in the night, saddled his ass; and took with him two young men, and Isaac his son. And when he had cut wood for the holocaust, he went his way to the place which God had commanded him. And on the third day, lifting up his eyes, he saw the place afar off. And he said to his young men: Stay you here with the ass; I and the boy will go with speed as far as yonder, and after we have worshipped will return to you. And he took the wood for the holocaust, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he himself carried in his hands ﬁre and a sword. And as they two went on together, Isaac said to his father: My father. And he answered: What wilt thou, son? Behold, saith he, ﬁre and wood; where is the victim for the holocaust? And Abraham said: God will provide himself a victim for a holocaust, my son. So they went on together; and they came to the place which God had showed him, where he built an altar, and laid the wood in order upon it; and when he had bound Isaac his son, he laid him on the altar upon the pile of wood. And he put forth his hand, and took the sword to sacriﬁce his son. And behold an Angel of the Lord from heaven called to him, saying: Abraham, Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. And he said to him: Lay not thy hand upon the boy neither do thou any thing to him; now I know that thou fearest God, and hast not spared thine only begotten son for my sake. Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw behind his back a ram amongst the briars, sticking fast by his horns, which he took and offered for an holocaust instead of his son. And he called the name of that place: The Lord seeth. Whereupon even to this day it is said: In the mountain the Lord will see. And the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, saying: By mine own self have I sworn, saith the Lord, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thine only begotten son for my sake; I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is by the sea-shore. Thy seed shall possess the gates of their enemies, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice. Abraham returned to his young men, and they went to Bersabee together, and he dwelt there.
O God, who didst give to mankind an example of obedience in the action of thy servant Abraham, grant us both to break down the perversity of our wills and to fulﬁl in all things the righteousness of thy commands. Through our Lord.
Exod. 14:24-31, 15:1-2
In those days: It came to pass in the morning watch, and behold the Lord looking upon the Egyptian army, through the pillar of ﬁre and of the cloud, slew their host; and overthrew the wheels of the chariots, and they were carried into the deep. And the Egyptians said: Let us ﬂee from Israel, for the Lord ﬁghteth for them against us. And the Lord said to Moses: Stretch fourth thy hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and horsemen. And when Moses had stretched forth his hand towards the sea, it returned at the ﬁrst break of day to the former place; and as the Egyptians were ﬂeeing away, the waters came upon them, and the Lord shut them up in the middle of the waves. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen of all the army of Pharaoh, who had come into the sea after them, neither did there so much as one of them remain. But the children of Israel marched through the midst of the sea upon dry land, and the waters were to them as a wall on the right hand and on the left; and the Lord delivered Israel in that day out of the hands of the Egyptians. And they saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore, and the mighty hand that the Lord had used against them; and the people feared the Lord, and they believed the Lord, and Moses his servant. Then Moses and the children of Israel sung this canticle to the Lord, and said:
Let us sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously honoured: the horse and the ride he hath thrown into the sea: he became my helper and protector for my safety. V. This is my God, and I will honour him: the God of my father, and I will extol him. V. He is the Lord that destroys wars: the Lord is his name.
O God, who by the light of the New Testament hast expounded the miracles wrought in the ﬁrst ages of the world, so that the Red Sea was a ﬁgure of the sacred font, and the deliverance of the people out of the bondage of Egypt did represent the Christian sacraments: grant that all nations who have now obtained the birthright of Israel by the merit of faith may be born again by the participation of thy Spirit. Through the same Lord, in unity with the same Holy Ghost.
Dan. 31:22-30, 32:1-4
In those days: Moses wrote the canticle, and taught it the children of Israel. And the Lord commanded Josue the son of Nun, and said: Take courage, and be valiant; for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I have promised, and I will be with thee. Therefore, after Moses wrote the words of this law in a volume, and ﬁnished it, he commanded the Levites, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying: Take this book and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord our God, that it may be there for a testimony against thee. For I know thy obstinacy, and thy most stiff neck. While I am yet living, and going in with you, you have always been rebellious against the Lord. How much more when I shall be dead? Gather unto me all the ancients of your tribes, and your doctors, and I will speak these words in their hearing, and I will call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will do wickedly, and will quickly turn aside from the way that I have commanded you; and evils shall come upon you in the latter times, when you shall do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him by the works of your hands. Moses therefore spoke, in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel, the words of this canticle, and ﬁnished it even to the end.
Attend, O heaven, and I will speak: and let the earth hear the words that come out of my mouth V. Let my speech be expected like the rain: and let my words fall like the dew V. Like the shower upon the grass, and like the snow upon the dry herb, because I will invoke the name of the Lord. V. Confess the greatness of our God: the works of God are perfect, and all his ways are justice. V. God is faithful, in whom there is no iniquity: the Lord is just and holy.
O God, the glory of the faithful and the life of the just, who hast instructed us also by the canticle of thy servant Moses; grant to all nations the gift of thy mercy, by granting happiness, and removing fear, that the threatened punishment may turn to their eternal salvation. Through our Lord.
Is. 4:1-6, 5:1-2
And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name, take away our reproach. In that day, the bud of the Lord shall be in magniﬁcence and glory, and the fruit of the earth shall be high, and a great joy to them that have escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass that every one that shall be left in Sion, and that shall remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every one that is written in life in Jerusalem. If the Lord shall wash away the ﬁlth of the daughters of Sion, and shall wash away the blood of Jerusalem out of the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgement, and by the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create upon every place of Mount Sion, and where he is called upon, a cloud by day, and a smoke and the brightness of a ﬂaming ﬁre in the night; for over all the glory shall be a protection. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shade in the day time from the heat, and for a security and covert from the whirlwind, and from rain.
My beloved had a vineyard on a hill in a fruitful place V. And he enclosed it with a fence, and made a ditch round it, and planted it with the vine of Sorec, and built a tower in the midst thereof. V. And he made a wine-press in it: for the house of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
O almighty and eternal God, who by thy only Son hast shown thyself the husbandman of thy Church, mercifully cultivating every branch which bringeth forth fruit in that same Christ, who is the true vine, that it may be more fruitful; let not the thorns of sin prevail against thy faithful, whom thou hast transplanted like a vineyard out of Egypt by the baptismal font; but protect them by thy holy Spirit, that they may be enriched by everlasting fruits. Through the same Lord, in unity with the same Holy Ghost.
Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life; give ear, that thou mayest learn wisdom. How happeneth it, O Israel, that thou art in thine enemies’ land? Thou art grown old in a strange country, thou art deﬁled with the dead; thou art counted with them that go down into hell. Thou hast forsaken the fountain of wisdom. For if thou hadst walked in the way of God, thou hadst surely dwelt in peace for ever. Learn where is wisdom, where is strength, where is understanding; that thou mayest know also where is length of days and life, where is the light of the eyes and peace. Who hath found out her place? and who hath gone into her treasures? Where are the princes of the nations, and they that rule over the beasts that are upon the earth? That take their pastime with the birds of the air, that hoard up silver and gold, wherein men trust, and there is no end of their getting, who work in silver and are solicitous, and their works are unsearchable? They are cut off, and are gone down to hell, and others are risen up in their place. Young men have seen the light, and dwelt upon the earth; but the way of knowledge they have not known, nor have they understood the paths thereof, neither have their children. received it: it is far from their face; it hath not been heard of in the land of Chanaan, neither hath it been seen in Theman. The children of Agar also, that search after the wisdom that is of the earth, the merchants of Merrha, and of Theman, and the tellers of fables, and searchers of prudence and understanding; but the way of wisdom they have not known, neither have they remembered her paths. O Israel, how great is the house of God, and how vast is the place of his possession! It is great and hath no end; it is high and immense. There were the giants, those renowned men that were from the beginning, of great stature, expert in war. The Lord chose not them, neither did they ﬁnd the way of knowledge; therefore did they perish. And because they had not wisdom, they perished through their folly. Who hath gone up into heaven, and taken her, and brought her down from the clouds? Who hath passed over the sea, and found her, and brought her, preferably to chosen gold? There is none that is able to know her ways, nor that can search out her paths; but he that knoweth all things knoweth her, and hath found her out with his understanding. He that prepared the earth for evermore, and ﬁlled it with cattle and four-footed beasts? He that sendeth forth light, and it goeth; and hath called it, and it obeyeth him with trembling. And the stars have given light in their watches, and rejoiced; they were called, and they said: Here we are; and with cheerfulness they have shined forth to him that made them. This is our God, and there shall no other be accounted of in comparison of him. He found out all the way of knowledge, and gave it to Jacob his servant, and to Israel his beloved. Afterwards he was seen upon earth, and conversed with men.
O God, who hast commanded us by the mouth of the prophets to relinquish the things of time and press on to those of eternity; grant that by thy heavenly inspiration we thy servants may accomplish that we know thou hast commanded. Through our Lord.
In those days: The hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me forth in the Spirit of the Lord : and set me down in the midst of a plain that was full of bones; and he led me about through them on every side. Now there were very many upon the face of the plain, and they were exceeding dry. And he said to me: Son of man, dost thou think these bones shall live? And I answered: O Lord God, thou knowest. And he said to me: Prophesy concerning these bones, and say to them: Ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will send spirit into you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause ﬂesh to grow over you, and will cover you with skin; and I will give you spirit, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord. And I prophesied as he had commanded me, and as I prophesied there was a noise, and behold a commotion; and the bones came together, each one to its joint. And I saw, and behold the sinews and the ﬂesh came upon them; and the skin was stretched out over them, but there was no spirit in them. And he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, O son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus saith the Lord God: Come, spirit, from the four winds, and blow upon those slain, and let them live again. And I prophesied as he had commanded me: and the spirit came into them, and they lived; and they stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. And he said to me: Son of man, all these bones are the house of Israel. They say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost, and we are cut off. Therefore, prophesy, and say to them: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I will open your graves, and will bring you out of your sepulchres, O my people; and will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have opened your sepulchres, and shall have brought you out of your graves, O my people; and shall have put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall make you rest upon your own land, saith the Lord almighty.
O Lord God of hosts, who raisest up what is fallen, and keepest up what is raised: increase the number of those who are to be renewed by the sanctiﬁcation of thy holy name: that all who are washed in holy baptism may always be guided by thy inspiration. Through our Lord.