December 18, 2006

Strictly speaking, "Midnight Mass" does not really exist...

... even if our English-language liturgical books say otherwise.

Our English books are supposed to be translations of the Latin liturgical books.

Here's what the Latin Missale Romanum ("Roman Missal") says about Mass for Christmas Day.

= = = =

Die 25 decembris

Ad Missam in Vigilia

Ad Missam in nocte

Ad Missam in aurora

Ad Missam in die

= = = =

Here's what that means.

= = = =

The Twenty-Fifth Day of December

At the Mass on the Vigil

At the Mass in the Night

At the Mass at Dawn

At the Mass in the Day

= = = =

The Vigil Mass would be around sunset or early evening.

The Night Mass would be later than that, in the dark hours. Even at 3 A.M.!

The Dawn Mass would be around sunrise or early morning.

The Day Mass would be anytime after that.


Anonymous Jeremias Ottiliensis said...

Hi Father , great seeing your blog. Remember those days in Rome?

12:43 AM  
Blogger and also with you said...

So, in contrast to the pedants who say that "Midnight Mass" can only begin at 12:00's possible for instance to celebrate the Missam ad vigilia at 6pm and the Missam ad nocte, say at 9pm?

7:28 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Yes, the Mass at Night could be anytime after dark.

- - - -

And now, I must go visit the website of St. Ottilien Archabbey near Munich, Germany. I see that Archabbot Jeremias Schroeder, O.S.B., a classmate of mine, has discovered my blog. We have not been in contact since 1991.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Bob Farrell said...

Isn't the term "Midnight Mass" a pre-Vatican II remnant when the Eucharistic fast requirements started the day (midnight) when one desired to receive the Holy Eucharist?

My Dad used to say that when this stricter fasting requirement was in effect, early masses were very popular, priests were judged by the laity on how quickly they could say mass, people frequently passed-out from "hunger" (I suspect it was actually hypoglycemia), and Christmas Midnight Mass was full of drunks.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Salome said...

According to the layout of my Liber Usualis, the Mass 'in nocte' is sandwiched between Matins and Lauds. This would suggest a post-midnight hour in the old use, unless Matins were anticipated.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Roman Sacristan said...

Actually, I would say the night Mass would have to start after midnight. If the night Mass counts as one of the three Masses that priests are allowed to say on Christmas, and since in Canon law a day goes from midnight to midnight, I would say that the night Mass would have to be anytime from midnight to ending it by dawn. Technically speaking.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Christmas is a solemnity of the Lord. It is computed time-wise beginning with the vigil, like a Sunday. So Christmas, like a Sunday, begins in the Church with "first vespers"-- rougly sundown.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...


The Church indicates that all four of those Masses belong liturgically to ...
The Twenty-Fifth Day of December

9:52 AM  
Blogger Roman Sacristan said...

True, in a liturgical sense, they are all Christmas Masses, but in terms of the law, again referring to the fact that on this day (under normal circumstances, ie no pastoral need) all priests are allowed to say three Masses on Christmas. This legislation would fall under Canon law which counts days from midnight to midnight. So, I would still say canonically my original statement would be the case. I would think that is where the term "midnight" Mass would come from, because that was the earliest you could have it, and most people would have wanted to do it earlier than later in the night.
Just trying to make sense of all the laws (both liturgical and canonical).
I do have to admit that I am just speculating.

2:58 PM  

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