A curiosity on the Vatican website about Midnight Mass

An alert reader noticed the following on the Vatican’s website:

24 Thursday
Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord
Vatican Basilica, at 22.00
CAPPELLA PAPALE
Midnight Mass

 

Interesting.

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28 Responses to A curiosity on the Vatican website about Midnight Mass

  1. JoeGarcia says:

    Metric time, maybe?

  2. MarkJ says:

    Maybe they’re having 2 hours of singing and prayer before the midnight Mass begins…

  3. Ferde Rombola says:

    Maybe they’re planning a four hour Mass and have midnight bracketed.

  4. TNCath says:

    I’m thinking it may be a concession to the Holy Father’s age and health. Not that he is particularly unhealthy, but, let’s face it, enduring a 2 hour plus ceremony and getting to bed after 2 a.m. (probably more like 3 or 3:30) is a bit much for anybody over the age of 30, much less 82.

  5. chironomo says:

    Then again… it could be a typo. But the actual time would 0.00 on Friday 25th, would it not? We do our “Midnight Mass” at 10:00 here in Florida, but I can’t see Pope Benedict choosing that as an option.

  6. Jono says:

    I think it was slightly early last year, too. As I recall, the Mass is called “in noctem,” or during the night. Tradition guides that it be celebrated starting at Midnight, but within the rubrics of the title of the Mass, at least, it seems it may be celebrated slightly earlier. It’s certainly possible that this may have more to do with the Holy Father’s age than anything. This is not to say that he is ailing, but an person his age whom I have ever known has tremendous difficulty staying up very late.

    If anybody knows whether the rubrics require that the Mass be celebrated at midnight, I would be happy to know. It seems to me that, under special circumstances, it may be celebrated earlier.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    I find the following EWTN listing:

    SOLEMN MASS OF CHRISTMAS EVE WITH POPE BENEDICT XVI – LIVE ( 2 hrs)
    Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord: Mass with the Holy Father from St. Peter’s Basilica.
    Thu 12/24/09 4:00 PM ET / 1 PM PT – LIVE

    If there’s still (after change to standard time) a difference of 6 hours between EST and Rome time, that would indeed mean 10 pm (22:00) in Rome. But should it be called the Mass of Christmas Eve?

  8. TNCath says:

    Henry: “If there’s still (after change to standard time) a difference of 6 hours between EST and Rome time, that would indeed mean 10 pm (22:00) in Rome. But should it be called the Mass of Christmas Eve?”

    Not necessarily. The readings and orations will be from the Mass at Midnight, which are interchangeable with any Masses at Christmas, whether it is Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day.

    In our parish, our “Midnight Mass” is at 4:00 P.M. because our parish is made up of mostly very elderly people who wish to be home early. If we had it at 10 or even 8, no one would show up.

  9. Tim says:

    It is not a typo. The ‘Midnight Mass’ will be at 22h00. I think it will be less of a burden for the Holy Father, who is not a young man. In our parish the ‘Midnight’ Mass is also at this time.

  10. patrick_f says:

    Well… To sorta para phrase a toby keith song

    Its 12 o’clock somewhere

    I too think its more for the Holy Father’s age. Of course, wishful thinking says maybe their will be a Pontifical High mass this year, with his Holiness as Celebrant, thus is might be 3-4 hours…but…yeah wishful thinking

  11. Geoffrey says:

    I noticed this a few weeks ago and figured “Christmas Eve Midnight Mass” is gone for good. I can’t find it anywhere in my diocese anymore. The latest Mass is 10pm, while the earliest is 9:30pm.

  12. chironomo says:

    Tim;

    I was just tossing out the “typo” as a possibility. It clearly is not though, as it would be difficult to mistakenly say 22:00 on Thursday instead of 0:00 on Friday!

    We had an actual Midnight Mass up until last year, when we changed pastors. I wonder about the motivation (convenience for the clergy maybe?) since the Mass was standing-room-only at Midnight in a church that seats about 1100 persons. The usual “it’s inconvenient for people” was cited as a reason… it didn’t seem that inconvenient for the 1100-1200 that regularly showed up in past years.

    Now all of my choir people are complaining that it interferes with their dinner time and Christmas Eve family plans since they have to be there at 8:00PM for rehearsal for a 10:00PM Mass. Previously we didn’t have to be there until 10:00PM. Oh well…

  13. worm says:

    Wow, my parish is more Catholic than the pope! Carols start at 11PM; Mass starts at midnight.

  14. Mark M says:

    It was slightly earlier last year too. Mind you, maybe the person typing it is thinking in Greenwich Mean Time (UTC), where 11pm in Rome is 10pm? Probably not, though…

  15. patrick_f says:

    My Parish does 11:00pm

    My oratory…dont know how else to say it, does 12/midnight

  16. Random Friar says:

    I remember reading that in the medieval days, long before electricity, Some European folks would go to bed early, awaken in the middle of the night, and then go back so sleep, not much different from the monk’s horarium, when you had Prime. A midnight Mass would actually be fairly doable for all. I wish I could find that source…

  17. patrick_f says:

    Quite honestly thats what I do… Mostly because the mass will go till 1 am anyhow.

  18. mfg says:

    The report of 10pm for Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s has been reported by many Catholic blogs that I read regularly so I assume it is true.

  19. Mitchell NY says:

    Midnight Mass should be at midnight, otherwise change the name. Funny because this generation stays up later than any previous and parents are often up late with the children or even working til close to that time so why not have Midnight Mass at midnight. I mean, who goes to bed at 8 PM anymore. I’ve heard it is not even considered primetime anymore until 9 or 10 PM.

  20. Christophorus says:

    In the extra-ordinary usage there are three Masses for Christmass: Night, Dawn and Day (in nocte, in aurora in die). Traditionally the Night Mass has been schedualled so that you receive communion on Christmass Day (hence – midnight).
    In the ordinary usage there are now four Masses: Vigil, Night, Dawn and Day. The new one is for early evening/afternoon.
    Both usages also have a separate Mass for the 24th.

  21. bookworm says:

    The question “What time is Midnight Mass?” sounds a lot like “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” :-)

    However, having “Midnight” Mass earlier is nothing new. Every parish I’ve attended for the last 25 years or so has had their “Midnight Mass” at 10 p.m.

    I suspect that one big reason for the midnight start time becoming established prior to Vatican II was because years ago you had to fast from midnight in order to receive Communion. Therefore, starting Mass anytime before midnight meant the priest, and anyone who intended to receive Communion, had to fast for nearly 24 hours. When the Eucharistic fast was reduced to 3 hours, and then to the present 1 hour, that was no longer a consideration.

    Also, not to get off topic, but it’s my understanding that the Easter Vigil Mass is also supposed to be celebrated at or after midnight, and ideally, should end around sunrise. However, every parish I have ever attended holds it at the earliest allowable hour after sunset. When Easter fell early (in March) and Standard Time was still in effect that was usually 7 p.m. Now that Daylight Savings Time starts in March it’s usually 8 p.m.

  22. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Sadly, the Vatican less-than-Midnight Mass will begin well after some Roman Parishes have already finished their “Midnight” Masses. Some have been known to start at 7pm.

  23. uptoncp says:

    Incidentally, the Sarum use had, instead of a Mass at Midnight, a Missa in Gallicantu, Mass at Cockcrow, (essentially the same propers) suggesting a rather later starting time.

    Surely in houses of regulars, the mass, coming between Mattins and Lauds, would have taken its timing from the usual hour of Mattins?

    (11:45 in my parish, preceded by “community carol singing”)

  24. Random Friar says:

    bookworm: I always heard the answer to “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?” to be the General and his wife.

    While I would like Mass at midnight proper, we also have to take into account the number of priests to celebrate Masses and number of parishioners who would come. Some places I’ve been at, the Midnight Mass was not well attended at all. For others, it was nearly packed. Both had it regularly before, so it was not that “they just started it” at either one. I think part of it was the general population. That, and if you want one priest to do two children’s Masses on Christmas Eve, a Midnight Mass and two morning Masses, you’re going to get one grumpy priest at the 7 and 9 AM Mass. ;)

  25. Greg Smisek says:

    TNCath: The readings and orations will be from the Mass at Midnight, which are interchangeable with any Masses at Christmas…

    I didn’t see anything in the Missale Romanum about exchanging orations. Do you have a source for that?

  26. TNCath says:

    Greg Smisek: “I didn’t see anything in the Missale Romanum about exchanging orations. Do you have a source for that?”

    Yes, it’s in the Ordo. However, I don’t have one available right now, but here is a link to the Diocese of Pittsburgh. It goes back to 2007, but the rules have not changed.

    http://www.diopitt.org/news_122107.php

  27. Greg Smisek says:

    TNCath: The article you cited doesn’t say anything about interchanging the orations, only the readings. If you were to replace both readings and orations, then only the introit, offertory, and communion chants would remain distinctive, and since most places ignore these, you would effectively simply celebrate one Mass in the time slot of the other.

  28. TNCath says:

    Greg Smisek: “The article you cited doesn’t say anything about interchanging the orations, only the readings. If you were to replace both readings and orations, then only the introit, offertory, and communion chants would remain distinctive, and since most places ignore these, you would effectively simply celebrate one Mass in the time slot of the other.”

    In effect, yes, that’s what is being done. Bottom line: “Midnight Mass” can be said at other times other than Midnight either on Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day, although most parishes will use the orations for Christmas Day on the day itself and not the eve. I know of lots of parishes that celebrate a 9 A.M. Mass using the Mass at Dawn instead of Mass During the Day. What I’m trying to say is that these Masses can be said at anytime on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That’s what the Pope is doing saying Midnight Mass at 10.