Our Nativity from about three years ago. It's more lavish this year with a real flowing water fall and pond! We have talent in my parish! Click on image to enlarge
I thought I would post this letter early to my blog readers for comment. My parishioners for the most part won't see it until the 4th Sunday of Advent, December 18/19.
What do you think about the proliferation of vigil Masses on Christmas Eve? Our schedule on the 24th is 4:00 PM; 6:00 PM Children's Mass; 8:00 PM and then Midnight with only two on Christmas Day, 8:00 AM and 10:00 PM (actually only one is needed as both are half empty.)
Well, Christmas is almost here! This Friday is Christmas Eve. You will note the Mass schedule. As in the past, let me warn you not to save any seats for family members who might be arriving later than you. In the past this has nearly caused “Christmas Riots” which is not a pleasant thing on the eve that we celebrate the Prince of Peace. So, may I say in the most delicate, politically correct way that I can, don’t save any damn seats or I’ll get Santa Claus red with anger along with others who want those seats!
Now, let’s get back to the Prince of Peace. The most peaceful Masses we have are actually on Christmas Day, the 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM. In fact, you can save pews for late coming relatives and no one will blow their top.
There are some in the Church who lament the fact that we allow so many vigil Masses on Christmas Eve. I lament it too. We have shifted our Christmas celebration to the 24th of December when in fact Christmas Day is the 25th. In the old days, before Vigil Masses were allowed, the first Mass of Christmas was at Midnight, which was Christmas Day. The Masses on Christmas Day were packed and additional ones needed. Technically, we could get by today with only one on Christmas Day, but I’m praying that more people will start attending on Christmas Day eventually.
The laity like getting Mass over with on Christmas Eve so all of the less important things of Christmas Day can take place, like opening a ton of Christmas toys and other presents. Shouldn’t the secular side of Christmas take a back seat to the fact that the Christ Mass should actually be celebrated on the day it was intended, December 25th?
I’m not the pope, so I won’t make any changes to our Christmas Eve schedule until there is some formal decree. Even the Holy Father in his old age has moved St. Peter Basilica’s Midnight Mass to 10:00 PM much to the chagrin of purists. But at least think about what I write and maybe start making family adjustments.
God bless you and Merry Christmas!
Father Allan J. McDonald
I prefer the Midnight Mass, but I don't think that the target audience of this bulletin letter (i.e., regular parishioners) are the main attendees at the Midnight Mass. It seems that most of the attendees are people I haven't seen around our parish. So, I'm not sure that those who need to be told not to save seats will actually get the message!
Honestly, while I share your concern about seating, I am much more concerned about the large numbers of people who unworthily receive our Lord in the Eucharist at the Christmas Masses, particularly the Midnight Mass.
Our family has always gotten up for the Christmas Day Mass. Even this year as the nest is about to empty for good, they oldest children wanted to make certain we attend the Christmas Day Mass. For us it's really celebrating the birth of a baby: Christmas eve we read the birth of Christ story like we found out sister has checked into hospital with contractions, then the mom was in labour all night, everyone is up early twittering about it, we all go to hear about it at the church instead of the hospital, then convene at the home to set up the gifts, eat and be merry that we have a new baby. Friends and extended family are part of it, too. It's part of the celebration.
Good points Fr. but my family is doing both since we enjoy the Children's Mass on Christmas Eve and my 9 year is serving on Christmas Day. We should all try to do both. There are different readings. Merry Christmas from Valdosta!
I love the Midnight Mass & strongly feel the presence of Christ as we go each year. There is something very special about exiting the Church into the crisp early morning air that is fresh with the whispers of Christ's birth. Though many years have passed, I still find myself looking to the heavens for Gabriel & his host - Gory to God in the Highest! To the Holy Father (whom I dearly love), I say with all respect: take a nap & keep the Mass at Midnight!
Because my parish is so diverse we have 3 masses scheduled for Christmas Eve, one each in English, Vietnamese and Polish. We will have 5 masses on Christmas Day, one each in Latin, English, Montagnard, Igbo, and Vietnamese.
I am definitely going to the Latin Mass on Christmas Day and may go on Christmas Eve as well.
For some reason, Protestants and other non-Catholics, as well as the local "intelligentsia" (I use the term loosely), seem to be attracted to Midnight Mass. They see it as some kind of "event" or interesting cultural phenomenon. They don't have a clue as to what is going on, gawk at us when we genuflect or cross ourselves with Holy Water, and spend most of the Mass craning their necks to see the choir, staring at the stained glass windows, or simply scratching their heads. If they kneel at all, they are about a minute too late, they are constantly watching others to see when to stand, and they whisper a lot to each other during the Liturgy.
When I encounter them over the next few days, they are back to the same old questions, "What are all those statues," "why do ya'll kneel so much," and (every Protestant's favorite...ready...)"why do ya'll worship Mary?" Since it would be impolite to slap them in the mouth, I just smile and repeat the same things we all do....
DAMN RIGHT Father about those DAMN reserved pews! Go & get Santa red on them - I wish I could be there to see it - best Christmas present ever! -pgal
Protestants coming to midnight Mass has been a long tradition in the south even prior to Vatican II. I think part of the reason was that Protestant Churches in the south never celebrated Christmas. It would have been done the Sunday previous. But that has changed tremendously. Even the Southern Baptist have something on Christmas Eve. Most still, do not have anything on Christmas Day.
ingloeroWell, Fr., they sing carols and, if Christmas falls on Christmas Day, the preacher usually has a pretty good sermon...
That is to say, "if Christmas falls on Sunday"...duh.
Midnight Mass should be at midnight...Enough change already..
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