The Gospel of St. Luke tells us that the birth of Christ was a momentous day in the history of the world. We now now recognize it as one of the most significant in the history of man.
According to Luke 2:9-14,
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.
Countless wars were waged in His name; and countless men, women and children sacrificed their lives as a result of their faith to the Lord over the past 2,000 years.
Some of our mankind’s most beautiful and significant artwork was crafted through the inspiration of His birth and subsequent life, death and resurrection.
Time as we now almost universally accept it in every corner of the globe reflects the passing seconds, minutes, hours and days since that unparalleled moment in history. And yet, the Roman Catholic Church — the very church established to praise, honor and remember His life is signaling to the world that celebrating His birth is, well, not really worth the bother.
Midnight Mass, which marks the beginning of the observance of Christmas, throughout history has been celebrated beginning at midnight. However, all that has come to change.
Beginning a few years ago at the church level, the grand celebration began starting earlier. First it was at 11 p.m., and then at 10 p.m.
I thought this was horrible at the time, but I disagreed with many of the changes the Church has made over the past few decades, including:
- the shift from the traditional language of the Bible and prayers — like thee, thou and lo — so it is easier for this generation’s children to understand what the words mean. Clearly that makes sense as previous generations often spoke with those words. Oh, wait. They didn’t, and yet, they still managed the meaning of the 23rd psalm and the “Hail Mary.” Hmmm. Intriguing.
- the shift from the Mass from Latin to the language of the people. Ugh. The Mass is supposed to praise the Lord. God is supposed to be holy, mighty and divine. Removing the pageantry and tradition that creates a more dynamic experience strips the experience away from the Mass. Our Jewish brothers and sisters still celebrate in traditional language. Why can’t Catholics? When I attend Mass in Latin, I still feel like I am in the presence of divinity; when it’s in English, it takes a lot more for me to feel like I am in the presence of something great — particularly when priests, our supposed spiritual leaders, mumble through downloaded sermons that lack any semblance of a personal touch. It is becoming strikingly more apparent that the Roman Catholic Church is suffering (read: suffering) a substantial priest shortage.
So compared to these more substantial changes in the Church, the shift of Midnight Mass from 12 a.m. to 10 p.m. is not as substantial of an issue. After all, I do try to pick my battles.
But since we are on the subject, shifting the beginning of this awe-inspiring Mass two hours earlier, or even 32 minutes earlier, erodes the significance of the celebration.
Christ our Savior was born. And yet, we need to accommodate ourselves rather than our God? What the heck?
How could the Church legitimately make an argument that it is the human representatives of the divinity if it is consistently making concessions to make it easier for mere mortals? It can’t.
According to Reuters, churches are celebrating this Mass earlier to “help families.”
Among the earliest services found in a snapshot survey by the Telegraph was St Teresa of the Child Jesus church in Liverpool, where Midnight Mass will take place at 6 p.m.
“It’s because people don’t like coming out late, and they want to bring their children,” said a spokesman for the church.
“It’s nice, some of the children wear their pyjamas.”
6 p.m.? 6 p.m.? Oh, man, yes, people are really making sacrifices for their Lord. And churches are really instilling their congregations with the significance of the day.
At many churches, there is a children’s pageant in the early evening so that families could attend ergo there is no need for Midnight Mass to be celebrated at 6 p.m. And hey, as long as the children are already in their pajamas at Mass, how about we put some bubble solution in the Baptismal Font and give our lil’ darlings a bath. Maybe it’ll attract more people.
So, as if all of these things occurring at more and more Catholic churches were not bad enough, the Vatican is now beginning to follow suit.
It has been announced that the Holy Father will celebrate Midnight Mass beginning at 10 p.m. for the FIRST TIME in history! For God’s sake, where does it end?
The Vatican hopes the Mass will be over by Midnight, CNN reports. Why? Because of the pope is tired.
Yes, I understand he is an old man, but it would go a long way if the pope, Jesus’ representative on earth, showed what sacrifice really is. How could he preach from the pulpit that our society is becoming too lazy, if he can’t even stay up on one night?
And if he can’t do it, have a Cardinal celebrate Midnight Mass. Regardless, just show some respect.
If not you, Holy See, then who?