The Easter Vigil must begin in darkness. One of the primary symbols of the Easter Vigil is light dispelling the darkness. We symbolize this by lighting the Easter fire and Paschal Candle in the dark, and then singing the thanksgiving to Christ, our Light. So that our symbols in worship may be genuine, the first part of the Easter Vigil, the Service of Light, must begin in darkness after nightfall. This is required by the rubrics of the Roman Missal which state: “The entire celebration of the Easter Vigil must take place during the night, so that it begins after nightfall and ends before daybreak on the Sunday” (Roman Missal, Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord, The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night, #3). 

What time can the Easter Vigil begin in the Diocese of San Jose?

Based on sunset information from the United States Naval Observatory, and considering that Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday of March each year, the period of darkness that begins “after nightfall” (what would be considered the end of nautical twilight) stays relatively consistent for the next 20 years, falling between 8:22p PDT and 8:47p PDT. (Want to see the full data for the next 20 years? Click here.)

In order to eliminate any confusion within the Diocese of San Jose and to follow the rubric that the Easter Vigil must begin after nightfall, Bishop McGrath has established a consistent start time for the Easter Vigil for the next five years.

Easter Vigil this year (April 4, 2015) until 2019 must begin at 8:30p PDT or later in the Diocese of San Jose.

Parishes are welcomed to start later than 8:30p PDT. Please contact the Vicar General’s office regarding any questions.