Tuesday, December 27, 2011


With all our visitors for Christmas Mass, I thought everyone did exceptionally fine with the corrected English translation. The only slight difficulty at least for me was that we have returned to the Mass of Creation for the Sanctus and Mystery of Faith. The Sanctus is basically what it was, but the "God of hosts" part was a bit tricky with the old melody still in my mind. The Mystery of Faith is nice but is new so that was a bit difficult for me without notes in front of me. We sang the revised Melodic Gloria and the congregation simply had the refrain and that was easy enough and our choir and cantors did a marvelous job with the main part of the Melodic Gloria.

We had trumpet, organ and tympani for the main Mass and what a richness these instruments together add to the Mass, the tympani in particular is awesomely majestic.

Our 4:00 PM Vigil Mass was the most heavily attended and people couldn't get into the Church and we had about 100 or so standing. The 6:30 PM Childrens' Mass was packed, but no one standing and the same for the Midnight Mass. We eliminated one of the Vigil Masses, the 8:00 PM. I encouraged people to come on Christmas Day and we only had two, 8:00 and 10:00 AM.

The 8:00 AM Mass was more than our normal 7:45 AM Mass on Sunday and the 10:00 Mass was packed but no one standing. This was the biggest change from last year, more people came Christmas Day and that is good in my mind!

Overall Christmas was marvelous and goes by fast. I still pray that the bishops will mandate one day that the Vigil Mass for Christmas not start until 8:00 PM and that there be only one per parish. That would help re-orient Christmas Mass back to Christmas Day. The Children's Mass could be at a later Christmas morning time.
I could see us having 7:45: 9:30 and 11:30 AM for Christmas Day.

What are your thoughts on having only one later Vigil Mass and then beginning Christmas Day with Mid Night Mass?


Marc said...

I like the idea of not having any anticipated Masses for Christmas, but this time I have a good reason(unlike some of my posts) ! ;-)

The Christmas Proclamation is sung at the Midnight Mass... It makes less sense to sing the Proclamation after several Masses have already taken place!

I'm kidding somewhat as I think there is a place for anticipated Masses for the Holy Days of Obligation so long as the people are prevented from falling into the "let's get it over with" mentality... I wonder if having anticipated Masses every Sunday is fueling this problem to a certain degree, but I digress...

At a certain point, though, the Church has to stop focusing on making things so "easy" for everyone with all the transferring of major Feasts to Sundays, limiting the Holy Days of Obligation, minimizing the fasts, ending Friday abstinence, etc. No one should aim for the minimum in things involving eternity!

Carol H. said...

I am a convert, and I was taught in Phoenix, AZ that the day starts at sundown of the prior evening, as per jewish tradition. This would mean that the vigil mass time would vary according to where one is located in a specific time zone.

I was just coming into the church at the time, so I never considered verifying the facts. So I don't know if this was a diocesan practice or if it was mandated by the Church.

I attend midnight Mass when I can. Not only is it my favorite, but it works well for me as I can't cook Christmas dinner if I am not in the house. Maybe this is a problem for others as well. But I do agree that Christmas Day is the best time for families to be at Mass.

Happy 3rd day of Christmas!

Marc said...

(Sorry for the double post, I was trying to edit my previous post but sent it accidentally)

I really thought the Midnight Mass was especially beautiful this year. The new translation really shines in the Roman Canon. As you were saying the prayer, I visualized my 1962 Missal. I even started to question whether you were actually reading an "unofficial" translation from an older Missal. Just a very beautiful and, yes, TRADITIONAL prayer! I think the usage of the Roman Canon at every Sunday Mass would be a huge step in the right direction.

If you weren't at St. Joseph for the Midnight Mass, here are a few things you missed: The Christmas Proclamation SUNG, the Collect SUNG, the Gospel SUNG, the Roman Canon SUNG, incensing by a group of altar servers at the elevation, AND a homily that mentioned sin and hell (and why we should try to avoid those things!). Incredible Mass! I stayed up until nearly 3 (as I do every year after this incredible Mass and the wonderful Easter Vigil!)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are four prescribed Masses for Christmas: at the Vigil; at Night; at Dawn and during the Day. Each of these Masses has different propers and different readings unlike Sunday Vigils that employ the same prayers and reading on Saturday night as on Sunday. So these are truly separate Masses and are meant not for convenience sake but for Liturgical sake. My problem isn't with the Vigil Mass, but the proliferation of more than one Vigil Mass and too early--but with that said, people love the vigil Masses for a variety of reasons. At any rate, if you read the "introit" of each as well as the Opening Collect of each Mass you can detect a difference in each Mass and certainly the readings do the same thing.

Mass at the Vigil:
Entrance Antiphon Cf. Ex 16: 6-7
Today you will know that the Lord will come, and he will save us,
and in the morning you will see his glory.
The Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) is said.
O God, who gladden us year by year
as we wait in hope for our redemption,
grant that, just as we joyfully welcome
your Only Begotten Son as our Redeemer,
we may also merit to face him confidently
when he comes again as our Judge.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Mass for Midnight:
Entrance Antiphon Ps 2: 7
The Lord said to me: You are my Son.
It is I who have begotten you this day.
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, for our Savior has been born in the world.
Today true peace has come down to us from heaven.
The Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) is said.
O God, who have made this most sacred night
radiant with the splendor of the true light,
grant, we pray, that we, who have known the mysteries of his light on earth,
may also delight in his gladness in heaven.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Mass at Dawn:
Entrance Antiphon Cf. Is 9: 1, 5; Lk 1: 33
Today a light will shine upon us, for the Lord is born for us;
and he will be called Wondrous God,
Prince of peace, Father of future ages:
and his reign will be without end.
The Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) is said.
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, as we are bathed in the new radiance of your incarnate Word,
the light of faith, which illumines our minds,
may also shine through in our deeds.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Mass during the Day:
Entrance Antiphon Cf. Is 9: 5
A child is born for us, and a son is given to us;
his scepter of power rests upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called Messenger of great counsel.
The Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) is said.
O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature
and still more wonderfully restored it,
grant, we pray,
that we may share in the divinity of Christ,
who humbled himself to share in our humanity.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Marc said...

Carol, I think it is a bit more complicated historically than just going back to "Jewish traditions" regarding sundown. The historical practice for the majority of the history of the Church was to not allow Masses to start after 12:00 p.m. So, all the Masses would be in the morning, even the Easter Vigil, which would have been before noon on Holy Saturday morning (an historical oddity there).

So, there is nothing in Catholic tradition against the Midnight Mass since that is before noon on the day of the feast (i.e., not an anticipated Mass). In fact, I believe there are many other Feasts where a Midnight Mass would be appropriate (like this coming Sunday, for instance).

It appears the idea of an evening Mass happened around the end of World War II (by Pius XII) to accomodate working people, but that Mass would still have been on the actual day of the Feast or Sunday. There is a separate question about an anticipated Mass the day before. That seems to have come about around 1970.

Father, good info about the different liturgies! Thank you! I believe in the 1962 Missal, there are only three Masses - Midnight, Dawn, and Day. But, there is a proper Vigil Mass for December 24th (using the old meaning of "vigil", i.e. not an anticipated Mass, but a Mass in its own right). Whereas in the new calendar, there is no Christmas Vigil, it is just Saturday of the Fourth Week of Advent.

There seems to have been a movement to do away with Vigils and Octaves in the calendar revisions... I'm not sure why that is.

Anonymous said...

I for one like your idea just as you presented it!


Anonymous said...

One more coment....

Perhaps give the parishioners a two-year advanced notice so that you have time to settle the whining about convenience and the parishioners have time to absorb the idea...then you're set to implement your very reverent idea.
Plus a great number of parishioners would be immediately in agreement or come along quickly... the reactions would not by any means be all negative.

Anonymous said...

My guess would be that families like to go to a 4-5 p.m. Mass and then to parties, dinners, etc., and an 8 p.m. Mass would not be popular for that reason. Some families open presents on Christmas Eve and then Santa gifts arrive on Christmas morning. I personally like the Midnight Mass when I can go to it.

What I am noticing about the new translation at our parish is that it is a LOT to have both new responses and almost entirely new music/sung responses all at once. In the past, visiting priests have commented that our parishioners really sing out with gusto. Everyone seems to be a little tentative now. Also, as with many sung responses, the words vary somewhat from the words printed in the missalette -- repetitions of phrases and words mainly. I wish we, along with the choir, could have the printed words to the responses as they are sung. I must say though that we are lucky that we have a complete missalette available.