The Armchair Liturgist: Pandemic Christmas

Many American dioceses have permitted earlier Christmas Eve Masses this year. My parish starts at 2pm, which is the most anticipated liturgy I’ve yet experienced.

I was noting this word from an Ohio diocese:

(A)ttending any mass between Christmas Eve and January 10, observing the Baptism of Jesus, would be considered the same as worshipping on Christmas Day itself.

I think earlier Masses rather than later would be an easier sell. If a parish were to offer “Christmas” on the Sunday prior–this year, December 20th–I think that would outdraw most any celebration post-25th.

Sit in the purple chair and decide how you would rule the Christmas liturgy schedule this year. Keep it the same? Offer earlier liturgies on the 24th? Promote January 3rd or 6th?

About catholicsensibility

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

  1. Liam says:

    In Boston, Cardinal Sean has taken the furthest available stretch of canonical meaning of “evening” to mean the hour after the noon hour (a meaning normally reserved to non-liturgical contexts) so that parishes are permitted to begin celebrations at and after 1PM on the Eve.

    I have just re-suspended attendance at Mass this past Sunday given the dramatic spike in Current Conditions on the ground. (I had already stepped down in October from attendance at the cathedral once the city core returned to the Red Zone to instead attend mass in my territorial parish with about 50 people in a medium-large space with no music, so that Mass would conclude in 30-32 minutes and not feel the least bit rushed.)

    There’s an outside chance I may brave the (unfortunately rare) 7AM music-less (sadly so, but with less risk in at least two ways: shorter duration of social mixing and therefore potential exposure, and no risk of people near me being incapable of resisting the temptation to sing familiar music) Christmas Mass at Dawn at one very large church of which I was a formerly parishioner. I will not be travelling as I had hoped. My Christmas in my home will be physically solitary, but I am a person who has learned in many ways over decades that solitary =/= lonely, lessons that many Americans have the unsought opportunity to learn this year.

  2. Devin Rice says:

    There is a Catholic parish nearby that is still doing outdoor services, 2 PM, 4PM, 8PM on Christmas Eve and then 9AM on the day. Considering the amount of people willing to brave the cold for a few hours during football season, I think celebrating mass outdoors even in December for an hour (or considerably less) is doable and safe. That said, I am more in favor of extending Christmas celebrations past the 25th vs anticipating them.

    But there is precedence with some degree of anticipation. The vigil of Christmas was celebrated for quite sometime on the morning/afternoon of the 24th as is the case in many Eastern Churches. But these celebrations were often not considered part of the Nativity celebration proper.

    I think Dec. 26th, Jan. 2nd would be good choices as these are Saturdays when many people have off. But I think might want to use a different Mass formula, perhaps Mass during the day for Dec.26th and Jan 2nd?

    • Liam says:

      For those not old enough to remember:

      The Vigil of Christmas was a classic Roman Rite vigil: penitential, with violet vestments and rather famously, a day of fast followed by a dinner that was still subject to abstinence from warm-blooded meats. Hence all those fish or meatless feasts. (In my family while growing up, it was mushroom pizza from the local pizzeria that closed early.)

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