The Armchair Liturgist: Christmas Liturgy Schedules

By now, the Christmas liturgy schedule at your parish should be set. We all recognize that, over the years, Catholics have drifted to an earlier observance.

I noticed in my old Kansas City parish has cranked their Christmas Eve schedule a few hours: 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm rather than 3:30-6-8. There used to be much competition in the old days, they told me, of parishes trying to get an earlier Christmas Eve and thus a more-attended and better-collected result.

Reports are out there that megachurches are anticipating Christmas Eve with services on the 23rd. Where does it all end?

Maybe in an ideal Catholic parish, there would be the Four Masses: Vigil (a real vigil), Midnight, Dawn, and Day. If we offered that at my current parish, the ratios would be about 65, then 17, then 3, then 15. I suspect yours might be similar if you are a Midwestern American.

Sit in the purple chair and render judgment. Like me, you can’t order people to distribute evenly with 25% each at the four Masses of the Roman Missal. But how would you order your Christmas schedule. And why?

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Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Christmas Liturgy Schedules

  1. Karl Liam Saur says:

    I will observe that I’ve been to parishes that have well-attended Masses on Christmas morning (like 8-9:30 and 11:30). They have one or two vigil Masses only, and not too early – like 5PM and 7:30PM. Scheduling more earlier seems to encourage people to get it out of the way. Don’t feel pressure to enable.

  2. Melody says:

    We are having a 5:30 pm and a 7:00 pm on Christmas eve, and an 8:00 and 10:00 on Christmas day. We haven’t had a midnight Mass for several years. It is a one-priest parish, and the elderly priest who used to come out from the retirement home to help over Christmas passed away. So something had to give, the 7:00 pm was added instead. All the musicians were happy to lose the midnight Mass, because we’d usually end up pulling double duty. Personally I don’t see a problem with anticipated and vigil Masses. At least people are going to Mass. The ones who really want to “get it out of the way” just don’t show up.

  3. The overall “load” is lessening somewhat, which I attribute to more distance between the secular and sacred cultures at odds regarding “Christmas.” However, with four parishes still, it is a programming nightmare to be able to cover about 16 Eve/Day Masses. Wendy and I will be primary coverage for two vigils, Schola at Midnight (yup, 12AM! We haven’t given up on that) and Ensemble at 10AM. As we’re empty nesters and the children come in from different areas of CA at different times, tbd, there’s no dissonance. But as we’re both in our sixth decade, yikes it’s getting debilitating what with two school concerts, a Sunday Seasonal Choral concert, singing at rescue mission, etc. in addition to weekend Masses. So, for me I’m on the clock towards the option of retirement.
    However, I do see a trend on the part of both clerics and laity to lessen the number of worship events that mirrors our denominational friends, who’ve gone so far as to cancel Sunday services when Christmas falls ON A SUNDAY! I’m just too tired to tilt at that windmill of creeping secularism.

  4. leefstrong says:

    Merry Christmas, Todd.

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