Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Three Masses of Christmas

When speaking of Holy Communion in the Way of Perfection (Ch. 34), St. Teresa of Avila said: "This is something that is happening now." In the Christmas liturgy, the Church teaches us that the birth of Jesus is not just something that happened two thousand years ago in Bethlehem. Our Lord's nativity is something that is happening now, especially through participation in the Mass, and in the liturgy of the hours which radiate from it. In The Church's Year of Grace, Fr. Pius Parsch explains that this is why the word hodie or "today" is repeated again and again in the Christmas Masses and offices. The Invitatory for December 24 proclaims: "Today you will know the Lord is coming, and in the morning you will see His glory." We are called to Midnight Mass with this antiphon: "The Lord said to me: You are my Son. Today I have begotten you." At Morning Prayer (Lauds) we say: "Today the Savior of the world is born for you." The antiphon for the Canticle of Mary closes the most joyful of feasts with the words: "Christ the Lord is born today; today the Savior has appeared...."

Dom Gueranger comments: "...This today is the Day of eternity, a Day which has neither morning nor evening, neither rising nor setting." (The Liturgical Year, Vol. II) Through the sacraments, especially through the Eucharistic sacrifice, we already belong to that Day of eternity. At Christmas Mass, we truly and mystically assist at His birth.

Christmas is celebrated with three Masses. At Midnight Mass, the angels marvel at the Word made flesh, born of the Virgin Mary. The Dawn Mass sees the shepherds hurrying to the stable to adore the newborn King. The third Mass celebrates the Eternal Word, Who is the Son begotten of the Father from all eternity.
Jesus, Who is born tonight, is born thrice. He is born of the Blessed Virgin, in the stable of Bethlehem; he is born by grace, in the hearts of the shepherds, who are the first fruits of the Christian Church; and He is born from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, in the brightness of the saints: to this triple birth, therefore, let there be the homage of a triple Sacrifice! (Dom Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, Vol. II)


Catherine Delors said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Elena! May the holiday bring you peace and happiness.

elena maria vidal said...

And the same to you, Catherine! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Anonymous said...

A very happy and holy Christmas, Elena! Beth and Ken and their gang are over for Christmas and we opene gifts a little while ago. We were gonna go to Midnight Mass, but we all pooped out (two glasses of wine with dinner goes straight to our heads!) So Mass will be in the morning, at the cathedral.

Beth was very excited with the gift I gave her: a copy of The Night's Dark Shade!!!

We will each read our copy and when we get together again -- for our birthday in two weeks -- we'll be able to talk about it! :)

I wish you and your dear family a very happy and holy Christmas!! (But I repeat myself...see? the wine!)

Lots of love and prayers,
Gette and 'em

elena maria vidal said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Gette! I know you and Beth will both enjoy the book! Wish I were there with you all!

lara77 said...

Merry Christmas Elena Maria; to you and your whole family Blessings for Christmas and the New Year. Thank you again for the joy and knowledge you have brought me over the past year; here is to many more.Lara

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you so much, Lara, that makes me very glad to know. Blessings to you and yours in this sacred season!

Anonymous said...

Elena, I wish you were too! YOu and your family need to make a trek down here sometime, I mean it!

elena maria vidal said...

Pray that I sell a lot of books so we can have the money for some road trips next spring!