Celebrating GRANDLY: The 3 Christmas Masses
Advent and Christmas are my absolute favorite times of year. There is such hope and joy surrounding this blessed time that it is hard for me not to get swept away in the most deserved celebrations of such a humbling and awe-inspiring event. Traditions vary around the world, and from family to family, but there is a sacred beauty in each of them celebrating and pointing to the Christ Child.
It is no wonder that the Church is also in full festivities! It is a longstanding Catholic tradition, dating back centuries, to celebrate Christmas GRANDLY with three completely different Masses. Each liturgy is especially designed to emphasize a distinct part of the Christmas story. Each mass includes ancient antiphons, a special symbolism of light, and highlights the glory of this most holy of events.
The first mass is the Midnight Mass or the Angel’s Mass. This Mass celebrates, traditionally, the hour that Christ was born, and is the one with longest history. The Gospel in this mass comes from Luke 2: 1-14. It centers around the announcement of the angels, in glory, to the shepherds in the field, and is a very joyful mass. The darkness of midnight is meant to be a symbolic reminder of the lack of true light in humanity before Jesus was born.
In the second mass, known as the Mass at Dawn or Shepherd’s Mass, the Luke’s Gospel continues (Luke 2:15-20). It narrates the shepherds hastily going to meet the newborn Messiah and glorifying the Lord for this miracle. This mass is typically focused on the introduction of light with Jesus’s birth and invites us to proclaim the Good News of Christ’s birth just as the shepherds did.
The third Christmas mass is the Daytime or King’s Mass. The liturgy now turns to the Gospel of John 1:1-18. This reading not only highlights the imagery of light once again in the birth of Christ (echoed from the previous Masses), but also focuses on the mystery of the Incarnation of the King of Kings.
Among all the traditions throughout the world, it is the rich and sacred tradition of the Mass that provides the summit of our preparations and celebrations at Christmas. What a most precious gift the Lord left us to encounter Him truly and completely through the Eucharist, and what a blessing that on Christmas we get to GRANDLY celebrate His birthday with these most special liturgical celebrations!
May the joy and hope of this blessed season fill our hearts and homes this Christmas, and always.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.
Mary, our Good Mother, pray for us.