The Rev. Mr. Grinch
Please don't tell anyone at the USCCB, but the latest craze in Christmas-morning church services is...to have no church services.
Thus far the trend seems to be confined only to the "megachurches," some of which can offer a handy DVD for families to pop into the new machine from Walmart that appeared under the aluminum Xmas tree. And it applies, curiously, only when Christmas falls on Sunday. All very confusing for American Catholics, who have been told that when a holy day falls on Monday, you can skip Mass that day, to avoid the unspeakable hardship of going to church two days in a row.
So you're wondering: How long can it be before Catholic bishops decide to eliminate the requirement to attend church services on December 25-- you know, the day popularly known by the contraction of the term 'Christ's Mass'-- if that happens to be an inconvenient date?
Personally, I say it never happens. Doesn't your diocese take up the collection for the priests' retirement fund that day?
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Posted by: Sir William -
Dec. 10, 2005 7:10 PM ET USA
"but at Christmas everybody wants to come to the vigils. I don't fully understand why." Growing up in a largely Italian parish, Midnight Mass was a MUST. Even my 'Christmas/Easter" parents made sure we got to Midnight Mass. As a child, the wonder of the lights & poinsettias, candles, the beautiful hymns & carols - gave my heart such joy and a sense of wonder. It stays even now.
Posted by: benedictusoblatus -
Dec. 09, 2005 10:32 PM ET USA
Once upon a time (is it still not so?) the Church in all her wisdom gave us three different Masses for Christmas. Each Mass had its own wondrous quality. It wouldn't be unusual for a good Catholic to attend all three in order to more deeply appreciate the gift of the Incarnation. That was a supernatural celebration of Christmas. Gifts, family dinners, etc all followed after and were clearly subordinated to that supernatural end. Not so in 2005 (at least not very often).
Posted by: frjimc -
Dec. 09, 2005 3:53 PM ET USA
We usually have one vigil Mass on Saturday and five on Sunday; on Christmas we have five vigil Masses -- including the midnight -- and three on Christmas day. My preference is for attending Mass during the day, but at Christmas everybody wants to come to the vigils. I don't fully understand why, but I wonder if I need to judge. After all, since 1964 or so we've encouraged people to understand the liturgical day as beginning at 4pm (or at nightfall); jshould not people take advantage of it?
Posted by: -
Dec. 09, 2005 3:19 PM ET USA
At our little mission church in the backwoods of Missouri we share priests with two other parishes, 45 minutes' drive away, Our third pastor in a row has serious health problems, so is now in a treatment center. We are supposed to get Midnight Mass every other year so two priests don't have to be in three places at once. But the parishoners have demanded Midnight Mass each year. The diocese has been obliged to import a priest from 'somewhere' to provide the service. We are not without recourse!
Posted by: Convert1994 -
Dec. 09, 2005 3:02 PM ET USA
Altar Boy is right. Personally I do not care what the Protestant sects do or do not do to celebrate Christmas. I do think it is ironic that even the most anti-Catholic fundamentalist sects celebrate Christ's Mass and were it not for us they would not even know to celebrate this feast in the first place. Absolutely I think it is better for Midnight Mass to be packed than to see a full Megachurch.
Posted by: -
Dec. 09, 2005 1:04 PM ET USA
In my Roman Catholic parish for at least the last 10 years, midnight mass has been at 10:30 pm so every body can be home before midnight. Likely to be dancers, at least for the offertory. There is a Mass on Christmas morning, but no organ, and no crowd. The kids all went to the children's mass at 3:00 Christmas eve. I actually like it.
Posted by: -
Dec. 09, 2005 11:02 AM ET USA
Which is better (or worse, depending on your perspective): a) a Protestant “mega church,” with a normal Sunday attendance of 25,000 people, closing its doors on Christmas Day; or, b) a Catholic Church, which is normally half-empty on any Sunday, having an SRO crowd for Christmas Day Mass?
Posted by: -
Dec. 09, 2005 9:32 AM ET USA
I think that the reason that it only applies to Sunday is that if Christmas falls on any other day of the week, they don't have services anyway.