Christmas Mass clarificaton

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: One more clarification about Christmas Masses…

When you say, “take advantage of the freedom in the lectionary and use the Mass during the Night for ALL the Masses on December 24. You would basically opt out of the Christmas Vigil Mass in favor of repeating the Mass during the Night, which the lectionary permits,” you mean just the readings – not celebrating the actual Mass at Night (Propers from the Missal) twice, right?

Or are you saying that because you CAN’T use the Night readings at the Vigil, fudge it and just celebrate the “Night” Mass twice… even if the first Mass is really in the late afternoon?


A: In the missal, the rubric before Mass during the Night lets a priest celebrate or concelebrate three Masses, “provided the Masses are celebrated at their proper times.” But priests are already permitted to celebrate three times on a holyday for a just cause (canon 905.2). These don’t have to be separate Mass sets. I am not a canonist, but it seems to me that a priest may celebrate the missal’s Mass during the Night more than once on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, especially due to the uniqueness of each congregation that gathers.

The collect for the Vigil Mass begins, “O God, who gladden us year by year as we wait in hope for our redemption.” The prayer over the offerings begins, “As we look forward, O Lord, to the coming festivities.” In my view, the priest does a disservice to people by offering those prayers at a Vigil Mass that they are celebrating as their one and only Christmas Mass.