We are deep in Stedra Vecera (Holy Supper) prep around here. Pierogi, mushroom sauerkraut soup and bobalki are on the menu, with a little cheese thrown in for our non-Slovak guest (and half-Italian kids). I'm against that, for the record. I think we're raising a whole generation of kids that expect to bend the rules when it doesn't fit their taste and who will have sooo many fewer "remember doing that when we were kids?" stories. Sad, really.
Like, what happened to Midnight Mass being the first Christmas Mass? When we were little (not too little, I was probably 6 or 7 when I started going) I remember getting to church at 11, singing with the children's choir, then having Mass. The babe was placed in the manger and at midnight Father said, "Merry Christmas, Joy to the World" or some such thing, and you knew THEN it was Christmas day. That's what we were here for; Jesus' birthday. The Savior of the World is born!
So, what happens at 4 PM Mass and why? That's rhetorical. I know people with little kids want to "get it done" early so they can sleep in and leisurely open gifts on Christmas morning. That's why we go to 7 AM. The kids are too asleep to realize there are gifts around and we start with the important thing...Christ's birth.
I suppose the same could be said for the anticipated Mass. I'm not sure it works here, though. We are "anticipating" Christmas. If you've had a baby, you know the anticipating and the actual birth are two entirely different things. Besides, isn't that what Advent is for? Aren't we anticipating Christmas all during Advent?
I know this sounds rant-like, but it's not. I do appreciate everyone who gets to Mass and/or in some way acknowledges that this is a special day. If there is no Christmas, there is no Easter and we are all back with Adam and Eve (who celebrate their feast day today in the Eastern Church, according to my Slovak book). It is good if, even for an hour on Saturday afternoon, you can think about Christ humbling himself to our level (that's humbling beyond anything we can ever imagine! We're really low!) to then eventually die for us. That is Love beyond all measure.
I do think, though, that it's settling for less. It's allowing people an easier path when it's not really necessary. Will people complain that they either have to take little kids to Midnight Mass or "interrupt" their Christmas day just to go to Mass? Perhaps. I think they would get used to it, though. And maybe, just maybe, we would all start to remember where we should begin the celebration.
Some words from our Pope Francis: