Midnight Mass

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Midnight Mass is a Christmas Eve liturgical tradition in the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, and the Lutheran Churches. The Mass or Eucharist is the central act of worship in the Catholic Church, which describes it as "the source and summit of the Christian life". Many of the other sacraments are celebrated in the framework of the Mass. The term "Mass" is generally used only of Latin Church celebrations, while the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, and the various Eastern Catholic Churches use terms such as "Divine Liturgy", "Holy Qurbana", and "Badarak",in accordance with each one's tradition. The term "Mass" is derived from the Late Latin word missa (dismissal), a word used in the concluding formula of Mass in Latin: "Ite, missa est" ("Go; it is the dismissal"). "In antiquity, missa simply meant 'dismissal'. In Christian usage, however, it gradually took on a deeper meaning. The word 'dismissal' has come to imply a 'mission'. These few words succinctly express the missionary nature of the Church"

Quotes[edit]

This prophecy of Isaiah never ceases to touch us, especially when we hear it proclaimed in the liturgy of Christmas night. This is not simply an emotional or sentimental matter. It moves us because it states the deep reality of what we are: a people who walk, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light.... - Pope Francis.
The most popular Christmas Mass for Roman Catholics is the Midnight Mass, a tradition that began in the early 400s. Midnight mass is traditionally held at midnight, as Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day, because it believed that Jesus was born at midnight. In today’s churches, both Catholic and Protestant, services may be held at midnight or earlier, incorporating carols and the Nativity. - Yvonne Jeffrey
  • The liturgies of Christmas are presented in Vigil Mass, Mass at Midnight, Mass at Dawn, Mass During the Day...However, all of the readings shed light on the fullness of Christmas and help to unfold the meaning of the Incarnation.
    • Mary Birmingham in: "Word and Worship Workbook for Year C: For Ministry in Initiation, Preaching, Religious Education, and Formation", p. 87
  • The leigtmotif is even more prominent in the liturgy for the mass at dawn than it is at the midnight mass. The responsorial psalm, the entrance antiphon, and the opening prayer speak of the light that will shine this day on us and on our actions.
    • Mary Birmingham in: "Word and Worship Workbook for Year C: For Ministry in Initiation, Preaching, Religious Education, and Formation", p. 97
  • On this night, like a burst of brilliant light, there rings out the proclamation of the Apostle: “God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race” (Tit 2:11).
    • Pope Francis in: :Full text of Pope Francis’s homily at Christmas night Mass at St Peter’s".
  • On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness.
    • Pope Francis in: :Full text of Pope Francis’s homily at Christmas night Mass at St Peter’s".
  • Midnight Mass was usually what was then designated a solemn High Mass, meaning there was a lot of singing and incense and it lasted well into the early morning hours. By the time midnight Mass was over, y'ats were hungry again.
  • For the nineteenth-century French-Creole Catholics, forerunners of today's y'at Catholics, midnight Mass and eating were always a family event, with big, extended families taking part. The early morning feast following midnight Mass came to be called reveilion which derived from the French word reveiller, meaning to wake up.
    • Earl J. Higgins in: "The Joy of Y'at Catholicism", p. 109.
  • In Spanish and Latin countries, Midnight Mass is referred to as the Mass of the Rooster, after the legend that says the only time a rooster ever crowed at midnight was at the moment of Christ’s birth.. The Polish Midnight Mass is called Mass Pasternak (Mass of the Shepherds), in commemoration of the shepherds present in accounts of the first Christmas.
    • Yvonne Jeffrey in: :The Everything Family Christmas Book: Stories, Songs, Recipes, Crafts, Traditions, and More", p. 35.
Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon virgin mother and child,
Holy infant so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace. - Joseph Mohr, Franz Gruber.
The Christmas midnight mass was the climax of a memorable celebration in a beautifully painted, carved and decorated church. Even the highest ceiling revealed heavenly designs of angels and saints and biblical personages. - Agnes Sutherland
Choral version performed by the United States Army Chorus


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O God,...Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. - Robert L. Tuzik
  • In German:
    Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
    Alles schläft; einsam wacht
    Nur das traute heilige Paar.
    Holder Knab im lockigten Haar,
    Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
    Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
  • In English:
    Silent night! Holy night!
    All is calm, all is bright.
    Round yon virgin mother and child,
    Holy infant so tender and mild.
    Sleep in heavenly peace,
    Sleep in heavenly peace.

External links[edit]

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