A rather poor cell-phone shot of the chapel at the Dominican House of Studies
The Vigil of All Saints at the Dominican House of Studies was as beautiful and powerful and prayerful as I had hoped and expected. We got there early, about 1h15m before, and the place was already filling up, and by the time the service started, it was packed (Maybe 500 people there? A majority of them young adults? LOTS of young religious and seminarians and priests!)
(Link above has links to preaching from last year, PBS's Religion and Ethics coverage of the event which has video of last year's Vigil, as well as media and blog coverage [including this one!] This link is a short video with stills set to beautiful polyphony. Also see American Papist.)
There were four readings from the lives of the saints: the life of St. Simeon the Styline, St. Peter Martyr, St. Benedicta of the Cross and Blessed Elizabeth of the Holy Trinity.
The homily was (I thought) wonderful -- developing Cardinal Ratzinger's idea of humanity's imaging God in "being from," "being for" and "being with" (corresponding to the Holy Trinity), and perhaps one of the most cogent and straightforward explanations of the treasury of the merits of the saints (even though that phrase wasn't used), and the intimate link between the communion of saints on earth, in purgatory and in heaven. [My friends thought the homily was "too academic." Oy.]
The Te Deum was chanted -- in the Dominican version -- and Compline followed, also chanted, with the Salve Regina chanted by the whole congregation with gusto, followed by the Beatitudes (in English) in Slavonic chant.
And at the end, there was the Litany of the Saints, as the people filed out carrying candles past a reliquary bearing the imprints of sanctity, as a host of heavenly helpers was invoked, a vast throng, from all parts of the world, from all time, the saints who, like us, exist, for the praise of His glory.
In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might (Ephesians 1:11-20)