This is an unusual year for the Liturgical Calendar. Christmas falls on a Monday, so Christmas Eve is on Sunday. That means we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent with our usual Masses: the Saturday December 23rd Mass of Anticipation at 4:30 pm and Sunday morning Masses December 24th at 8:30 am and 11:00am. That same day, we celebrate Christmas Vigil Masses at 4:30 pm and Midnight Mass at 12:00 am. It will be a full day! It’s now that we need to remind ourselves of the 3rd Commandment: “Remember to keep holy the LORD’S Day.” Also the 1st precept of the Church; “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.” We must “sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord” (Sunday), as well as the principal feast days, known as Catholic holy days of obligation. This requires attending Mass, “and … resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.”
On Monday, the Mass of Christmas Day will be celebrated at 10:00 am. We need good planning on that weekend. I know it will be tempting to skip the morning Mass on December 24, but I encourage you to celebrate the Liturgical Year in all its fullness. The readings and liturgical prayers for the 4th Sunday of Advent are important to set up the full joy of Christmas. We should see this day not as a burden, but as an opportunity to spend a really holy day with the Lord, whose Paschal Mystery begins with the Incarnation. The long-expected Messiah finally comes into the world to announce the Good News that God will redeem the world.
Have a blessed Advent Season!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Peter Patrick