From a reader…
My pastor has asked my wife, newborn, and me to portray the Holy Family during Christmas Eve Mass. We would process in and then the baby would be placed in the creche. I just found out that this will be a “children’s Mass” with kids gathered around the altar, and that the creche will be in the sanctuary. People who have witnessed this before say it is highly distracting. What should I do?
A living Nativity scene play is one thing. Having it during Mass, in the sanctuary, is a horse of a different color.
No. I would politely decline.
“Oh Father, thanks for asking, but I’m going to have to decline. I just don’t we’re up for it.”
That should be sufficient. When pressed, if pressed, simply repeat, “I don’t think we’re up for it.” If pressed further,
“I would rather pray during the Holy Mass than pretend I’m in some sort of a play on stage.”
As an interesting aside, during and after the Patristic period, Late Antiquity, theater was pretty much repressed. In the Medieval period, however, it began to creep back in the form of Mystery Plays and Morality Plays. They were at first offered outside churches, in the squares before the main doors. Then they crept into the churches themselves and could even be a prelude to Mass, such as on Christmas Day. As a matter of fact, the Mystery Play of the Wise and Foolish Virgins was often connected with the Vigil of Christmas. Picture in your mind’s eye the play taking place, the people watching as the Bridegroom finally arrives. He excludes the foolish virgins without sufficient oil to weep and gnash their teeth outside the closed door of heaven. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
In those days sentimentality was tempered with reason, sobriety and Faith.