Preaching Christmas and Easter

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I am developing a presentation on preaching Christmas and Easter for the priests of our diocese.

Just to check: Lectionary #13 indicates that the readings for the vigil and various masses of Christmas can be used interchangeably. Am I reading that directive correctly?

For Easter I am less clear. I know that the gospel from the Vigil can be used on Easter Sunday. Can other readings (such as the OT selections from the Vigil also be chosen for Easter? What do you think?


A: Here’s a quote from my new book, Words Without Alloy:

When several pastors saw the drafts, they noted that of the three Christmas Masses, the readings from the one at dawn had “no practical pastoral usefulness,” and they wanted freedom to repeat readings from the Mass in the night. The study group proposed a rubric: “If it seems pastorally appropriate, it is permitted at any hour to choose one or another of the three formularies.” A version of this permission still appears before the three Masses of Christmas day.

So, the “sets” of readings are interchangeable, but not the “readings”. You may use the whole set of readings for Mass During the Night at any Mass at the Vigil, for example, but not its gospel alone. You may use the Mass at Dawn later in the Day on Christmas, but not just its second reading.

Regarding Easter, no, the Old Testament selections from the Vigil may not be used on Easter Day. They are part of the nature of the Vigil. Once Easter morning arrives, the lectionary sets aside all readings from the Old Testament for 50 days—except, of course, the Book of Psalms.