From the Pastor: No Scant Christmas Worship!
Christmas fell on a Monday in 2017, just as it does this year. That year we had the same Mass schedule for both the English Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Masses, although with two extra Vietnamese Novus Ordo Masses as well. Now that the St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission has become a parish of its own, complete with its own property and church building, we no longer have two groups “competing” for space on these Holy Days. Thanks be to God, and I don’t mean that in any negative way whatsoever. We both outgrew these accommodations. But, while some things change, others don’t. Such is the case with people trying to attend Sunday evening’s Mass >>only<< and having it “count” as a fulfillment of both the Sunday and Christmas obligation! Thanks be to God again that we don’t have such minimalistic-minded people at this parish (or, if we do, may they read this article and change!).
Such people are truly to be pitied, but it is our own Church leaders, in instituting the novelty of an “anticipated” Sunday Mass on Saturday evening, who shoulder much of the blame. Even if they didn’t see it coming, they are most certainly aware after 50 years that the vigil Masses have encouraged a mentality of “Let’s get our obligation to God out of the way so that we don’t have to pray on Sunday.” People usually won’t state it quite like that but they have no problem proclaiming that they prefer the vigil Mass over Sunday Masses because they can go out to eat on Saturday night. They also don’t mind complaining to the priest that if the vigil is not early enough (or if the homily is too long) they have to wait too long in line at their favorite restaurant. I am happy to say that I have never heard any of the parishioners at our vigil speak such nonsense. I credit the priests who came before me and those who normally celebrate that Mass now, for they must all have done and continue to do a great job teaching that the main purpose of the Mass is to worship God as He wishes us to worship, not just to punch the time clock, so to speak. That being said, I have already had multiple people “out in the wild” ask me about the possibility of killing two birds with one stone by attending only their Christmas Eve or early Midnight Mass (oh, the horrors of Midnight Mass being celebrated at either 8:00 pm or 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve!) and having it “count” for both the Sunday and Christmas Mass obligations. Oh, my! How sad it is to hear people trying to get by with minimal effort in worshipping Our Lord, especially on one of the holiest days of the year! “Yay!” I can almost hear them exclaim, “We outwitted God and only had to go to Mass once this week while sleeping in on both Sunday and Christmas. Plus, we fooled the pastor and only had to put one crumpled-up dollar bill into a single collection, not two! Woo Hoo! We are the smartest damned Catholics in the world!” Yep. Damned smart Catholics, if you get my drift. Not that I am so goshdurn holy that I don’t get by with just the minimum (or less) expected of me at times, too, but sheesh, on Christmas? I bet they have a blow-up Grinch in their front yard instead of a Nativity Scene, too.
Getting back to how this article started out, the Mass schedule, with the exception of the missing Vietnamese Masses, will be the same this year as it was in 2017 for December 24 and 25th and January 1, which, once again, is not a Holy Day of Obligation because our US Bishops decided that making people attend Mass two days in a row was tooooo haaarrrd on the people. That does, at least, help explain why they haven’t pressed to suppress the “anticipated” Sunday Mass (the Saturday evening Vigil and Masses the evening before Holy Days). We will have a Novus Ordo vigil Mass at 5:00 pm on December 23 which is the Mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent on the Novus Ordo calendar; another on the 24th at 5:00 pm, which is the Christmas Vigil Mass and fulfills one’s Christmas obligation. I am working toward full compliance with the Vatican directive that I not publicize the Traditional Latin Mass times in the bulletin, online, or by any other media, which I write as a preface to telling you that something—a “something” that I cannot write about—will happen in the church at the normal Sunday times of 7:30 am and 10:30 am on December 24, either of which will fulfill your Sunday obligation for the old-fashioned Vigil of Christmas as it used to be known, and which supersedes the 4th Sunday of Advent in the liturgical calendar which must not be mentioned from 1962. A first Christmas something will begin at Midnight as December 24 changes to December 25; a second Christmas something will be said silently in the church at 7:30 am on December 25; yet a third Christmas something will be accompanied by the choir at 10:30 am later that morning; any or all three of which will satisfy your obligation to properly worship God on Christmas, though I must leave it to your imaginations as to how that could possibly occur. Please note that there will be no confessions heard after any of the Christmas somethings.
The following weekend Mass schedule is as normal, as is the schedule for Monday, January 1st since it is not a Holy Day of Obligation.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka