As we make our plans regarding who we will be with at the end of this week for Christmas, most of us have likely already decided on which Mass we will be attending, whether here or elsewhere. Of course, here at Divine Mercy we offer three options on Christmas Eve, as well as one Mass on Christmas Day. Did you know that the Church still follows the centuries-old practice of having different prayers and readings depending on which Mass you attend? Dating back to at least the 6th century, the Church’s liturgy for Christmas Masses had different prayers and readings for the Mass at night, the Mass at dawn, and the Mass during the day. Even today, the Christmas Masses have different prayers and readings at the vigil Mass, at the night Mass, at the dawn Mass, and at the day Mass. Then, as now, this ancient practice was done in order to emphasize different parts of the Nativity story.
The midnight Mass was often called the Angel’s Mass because the Gospel reading for that Mass is from Lk. 2, in which an angel appeared to the shepherds to “bring glad tidings of great joy… for this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the City of David.”
The Mass at dawn was often referred to as the Shepherd’s Mass, because the Gospel continues Luke’s Nativity account, in which, the shepherds went to honor the newborn King.
The Mass during the daytime was often referred to as the king’s Mass, turning our attention to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Whether you plan on going to the Vigil Mass, Angel’s Mass, Shepherd’s Mass, or the King’s Mass, know of my prayers for all of you as we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. May the peace of the newborn King be with you and your families as you travel near and far to be with them for this joyful solemnity!