|St John Cantius, Chicago|
ALLOUEZ — Silent night, holy night.continue at The Compass
Tradition tells us that Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem at midnight. For centuries, Catholics have observed Christ’s birth by celebrating midnight Mass. Two other Masses, at dawn and during the day, are also celebrated on Christmas Day.
Fr. Joel Sember, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Stiles, said celebrating Christmas Mass at midnight actually led to an increase in Mass attendance.
“We used to have a 10 p.m. Mass that slipped to 8 and 7 p.m., with ever-decreasing attendance,” he told The Compass. “I finally canceled the Mass, only to get phone calls asking if we were having a midnight Mass.
“I’ll try anything once, so I said, ‘Fine, we’ll do midnight Mass at midnight, just to see what happens,’” said Fr. Sember. “St. Patrick, being a small country church, perfectly fit the ambiance. It has been a well-attended Mass time. It’s much more peaceful and prayerful than the zoo that is Christmas Eve. Families of all ages come and the little ones bring blankets and snuggle up by Mom and Dad. Certainly people love this Mass and look forward to it every single year.”
Among the 12 churches offering midnight Mass is the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. According to Corrie Campbell, communications director and event coordinator at the shrine, the first midnight Mass took place in 2016.
The Divine Worship director uses the word "nostalgia" when describing the Catholics desire for something they have never experienced in their lifetime. I just don't think nostalgia can accurately describe the phenomenon.
Midnight Mass at the Cathedral here in La Crosse is one of the high points of my entire year. I want to stand on the pew and cheer when the Nativity Proclamation from the Roman Martyrology is chanted. ... How do I not have photos of this somewhere. At any rate, I never once went as a child. My first was probably when I was in my mid twenties(maybe at the insistence of some of you fine readers). The human person desires what is beautiful, good and true, and those moments come most excellently each year during the liturgy.
“Tradition is not the cult of ashes, it is the transmission of fire.” - Gustav Mahler