For the third year in a row, we at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish celebrated the great birthday of the Church with the Extended Pentecost Vigil Mass as is provided for in the current Revised Roman Missal. I always loved the optional readings for the Vigil (from Genesis [Babel], Exodus [the giving of the Law], Ezekiel [dry bones] and Joel [outpouring of the Spirit upon all people]), but found it frustrating to choose one or another. The Extended Pentecost Vigil gives the Church the opportunity to listen to all of these readings (along with Romans and the Gospel) in a setting similar to the Easter Vigil. It obviously takes a little longer, but for such an important feast it is worth the time to celebrate well.
Our choir, cantors and musicians did a great job in leading our prayerful response to these readings, and I attempted to show the working of the Spirit in the life of God's People, in the best of times and even through the darker moments such as the confusion of Babel and the lifeless condition of God's People found in Ezekiel 37. And our people were patient and responsive to this "out of the ordinary" celebration of Eucharist.
It is very important celebrating this "birth day" of the Church that we allow ourselves to remember and give thanks for the graces and sacrifices made that brings the Church to birth and keeps the Church alive. If we remember, then we fight against the divisiveness of our arrogance found in the story of Babel, we always keep close to our hearts the gift that God had entrusted to us in the Law, especially the great Law of Love, we resist becoming listless and dried out - good for nothing but to be ignored, and we long for that reawakening of the Spirit in our lives. That is the reality of Pentecost - not an event of the past to be commemorated, but the present truth of God's Spirit alive within us, helping us to be the Church Alive!
I was truly blessed by our Extended Vigil celebration, and encourage you to encourage your pastor to consider the option for next Pentecost, if you are not already doing so.