BRILL: Two Masses for Christmas? A Christmas Mass explainer

November 28, 2023

Christmas Day is a momentous celebration in our faith, but this year provides a unique scheduling challenge since it falls on a Monday. The convergence of Christmas with the beginning of the workweek is a relatively rare occurrence.

This scheduling challenge prompts us to review necessary adjustments to fully participate in the Liturgies at hand.

Mass scheduling for Christmas

Parishes may change their usual Saturday night and Sunday morning Mass schedule, given the unique timing of Christmas. Masses for the Fourth Sunday of Advent will be celebrated from 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 23, through early afternoon on Sunday, Dec. 24. Masses for Christmas will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 24, and continue throughout the day of Dec. 25. However, both days retain their obligation status.

A holy day of obligation is not merely a religious obligation but a beautiful invitation to deepen our faith and strengthen our connection with God. These special days mark significant events in the life of Jesus and the Church. They offer us the chance to come together as a community, celebrate our shared beliefs, and commemorate the mysteries that shape our faith. As for the Sunday Mass obligation, it’s not just a rule; it’s an opportunity. Every Sunday, we are called to gather as a faith family to break bread, hear the Word of God, and be spiritually nourished. It’s a time to refuel our hearts, find solace in our Lord’s presence, and receive His grace to guide us through the week ahead. So, we should embrace these obligations as moments of grace and joy where we can draw closer to God and each other.

So, we are obliged to go to two different Masses to meet the obligations. The obligation for the Fourth Sunday of Advent Mass may be met at a Saturday evening Mass or any Mass held before 4 p.m. on Sunday. The obligation for the Christmas Mass may be met at any Mass after 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 24, or any Mass celebrated on Monday, Dec. 25. It is crucial for parishioners to stay informed about any changes in their parish’s Mass schedule and to check for updates at the parish.

A joyful and meaningful Christmas

As we navigate this uncommon scheduling challenge, let us focus on the true spirit of Christmas: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The adjustments made by Christmas falling on a Monday are in no way intended to diminish the significance of this holy day. Instead, they allow us to adapt to the circumstances while preserving the solemnity and joy of the Nativity.

We look forward to welcoming you to the great feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. Together, we will celebrate the miracle of Christ’s birth and strengthen our bonds as a faith community. Let us remain flexible and understanding, appreciating the parish leaders as they work so hard to facilitate these celebrations. May the birth of Jesus bring peace, love and joy to your hearts and homes. 

Adam Brill is the director of the Office of Worship.