Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Typically I am not one to rush holidays. It seems that we start earlier and earlier each year in our celebrations of things, with Christmas and its festivities being among most pressing. While at a personal level, I prefer to let things unfold in a generally slower way, I do also understand the preference and in some cases actual need to be thinking and planning early. And friends, Christmas this year is worth thinking about ahead of time.
December 25th falls on a Saturday in 2021, which means some complications when thinking about parish life and specifically Mass schedules. It’s probably not that shocking, but a Saturday Christmas is not the favorite of priests, given how it affects the weekend schedule. Truth be told, we’ve been considering what to do about celebrating the Nativity since the summer, and while we’ve bounced back and forth on certain points, I think we’ve honed in on the most reasonable approach for the craziness that this year presents. At the heart of it is this, we have both Christmas and the Feast of the Holy Family to deal with in a span of three days.
Before I go into a long explanation of Masses and obligations, here is our schedule from Christmas Eve through Holy Family Sunday.
Friday 12/24 Masses: 4:00 PM (Livestreamed), 6:00 PM, 8:00 PM, 10:00 PM
Saturday 12/25 Masses: 8:30 AM, 10:30 AM
Sunday 12/26 Masses: 8:30 AM (Livestreamed), 10:30 AM
Please note that there WILL NOT be a 5:00 PM Mass on Saturday or on Sunday that weekend.
Now, there’s a real tension in being practical and honoring what the Church asks of us in this schedule. All of us are obligated to attend Mass for both Christmas and for the Sunday. On the one hand, this means that there should be multiple options to attend Mass for those occasions to fulfill the obligation. On the other hand, there
are certain limits of how much I can do and get coverage for in terms of celebrating Mass in such a short span of days. Currently, I have one Mass in the above schedule with another priest to celebrate; the rest falls to me.
We debated heavily whether there should be either one or both of the 5:00 PM Masses on Saturday and Sunday. We concluded that attendance will likely be quite low if they were offered and that I’m already pushing myself to celebrate seven Masses in three days. I hope that you understand why we’ve made the schedule the way it is and that you’ll be able to join us for our Christmas and Holy Family Masses this year.
Peace and Goodness,