Friday, December 27, 2013
WHY NOT MAKE DECEMBER 23RD CHRISTMAS EVE AND DECEMBER 24TH CHRISTMAS DAY? HE SAID TONGUE IN CHEEK, BUT MAYBE NOT!
John Nolan who can be a bit opinionated as it concerns tradition, wrote something very sensible and true in my previous post on this topic:
"Yes, the OF has a lot to answer for. The Propers of the Vigil Mass - Hodie scietis (IN & GR), Crastina die (ALL), Tollite portas (OFF), Revelabitur gloria Domini (COMM) - still have the message of Advent. But hey, let's put on white vestments, throw in all the bells and whistles, not to mention Christmas carols, and do it at four o'clock on Christmas Eve, so people can get on with celebrating the Day of Universal Excess without being distracted by the idea that Our Lord's birthday has anything to do with it."
These are the same liturgical reformers who insisted that the Vigil and first Mass of Easter be 'restored' to their 'original' times, so they're not even being consistent.
My "what to do, what to do, Oh, what to do?" conundrum post, which so many seem to miss, is also about the times we begin to celebrate Mass. I brought the subject up of moving Christmas Eve to a day earlier with the tendentious PI at the Red Lobster for lunch on Christmas Eve. I suggested that because of the proliferation of "vigil Masses" for Christmas on Christmas Eve, some starting at 4:00 PM (if not earlier) and ours here at 4:30 PM (and the most heavily attended) that Christmas Day had been transferred defacto to Christmas Eve and that the day before Christmas Eve has actually become Christmas Eve.
Whose fault is this? The Vatican who allowed bishops to institute Vigil Masses which fulfilled the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation and this liberalization began in the dreaded and most corrupt period of the recent history of the Church in the 1960's. That should tell us something right there!
The "bill of goods" we were sold in the 1960's about "Vigil Mass" fulfilling one's Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation Mass was that it was for people who could not get to the Mass on the actual day, like Sunday or the day of the Obligatory Mass. At first, these Masses were late in the evening of Saturday or the day before the Obligatory Mass. Most started at 7:00 PM if not a bit later.
But slowly but surely, people forgot that Vigils which could satisfy one's obligation to attend Mass, was only for those who couldn't go on the actual day and more and more people went to the vigils, primarily older people who didn't want to be bothered with Church on Sunday morning. That's a good reason not to go to Mass on Sunday, he said tongue in cheek.
And then priests decided they didn't like Mass so late in the evening of vigils (and these were interfering with brides who wanted night weddings) and started putting them earlier, like at 6:30 PM, then to 6:00 PM, then to 5:30 PM, then to 5:00 PM, then to 4:30 PM and then to 4:00 PM and in some places I hear that one can fulfill one's Sunday obligation by going on Saturday at noon!
Now don't get me wrong. I am not entirely opposed to Vigil Masses but these need to be reigned in and by the only people who can reign them in the bishops! Priests can do it locally, but that makes the priest idiosyncratic. The best solution is a top down solution from the Vatican as they did it when they imposed Vigil Masses as an option but with some codicils. Or perhaps this might be something decided by National Conferences of Bishops to make them feel important?
Bishops in this country and I think it was decided by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops about 15 years ago, enforce the time when the Easter Vigil is celebrated. It cannot be celebrated before sundown. That usually means no earlier than 8 PM. Of course the sundown rule would work against what I am writing because in some parts of the world sundown at the start of winter is around 4 pm if not earlier.
So my recommendation, my plead to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops is to take back Christmas Eve as Christmas Eve and stop making December 23rd the defacto Christmas Eve and return Christmas Day to its proper date of December 25th, since defacto it is now December 24th for most Catholics! Whose fault is that? The bishops of course!