CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE: With the beginning of Advent it is time to announce the Mass schedule for Christmas. Of course a new wrench was thrown in this FUNFILLED yearly "holiday tradition" with the addition of Saint Aloysius to our family. Fortunately, it wasn't a GREAT BIG, CHAOS-CAUSING WRENCH O'DEATH! I was able to more or less replicate the 2015 schedule and simply add in two Masses in Dunbar. As we move into the future the Christmas schedule will change to a four year rotation instead of a three year one. (At least until we have 5, or 6, or 7 parishes in our community!)
As you will notice it is Saint Rita's year to have only one Mass and that Mass will be the Midnight Mass. I anticipate that there will be those who will grumble "Well, with THREE priests now, why can't we have MORE MASSES." Let me try to offer an explanation; although I know it won't satisfy everyone, I trust that reasonable people will be persuaded that I AM being logical.
The reality is that the vast majority of people these days attend the first Mass on Christmas Eve, and
the earlier the BETTER. To be honest I am not thrilled with this fact. I grew up going to Mass on
Christmas DAY with my family and then going to - and usually serving - Midnight Mass once I started
working at Burn's Drug and had to work in the morning; the evening Mass was specifically for families with small children. I actually remember my Dad dropping grandma off for the Christmas Eve Mass And lecturing her as to why she SHOULDN'T be going to that Mass! But regardless of my own PERSONAL feelings it is what it is and I have to deal with it. So acknowledging the reality, THREE early Masses have been scheduled; two at 4:30 (Immaculate Conception and Saint Aloysius) and one at 5:00 (Saint John). I trust that every last one of us will take as given that THREE priests cannot celebrate FOUR Masses at basically the same time! Furthermore the half hour difference between the two Connellsville Masses will allow people who can't pack into IC to go down the hill in time for the Saint John Mass.
With well over half of people choosing to pack into the early Christmas Eve Masses (three this year), that leaves a considerably smaller number of people to spread out across the other four Masses. As a priest let me tell you, practically NOTHING is more depressing than celebrating Christmas in a nearly empty church. And that's exactly what will happen if we schedule too many. Because of that I even hesitated scheduling two Masses on Christmas morning; next year, if it is clear that one Mass suffices the schedule will be adjusted accordingly.
Another important fact that mitigates against expanding the number of Masses is the difficulty in filling in all the ministries needed to celebrate the solemn feast of Christmas in a fitting and dignified manner. We will already be stretching our music ministry beyond the breaking point with seven Masses. Any more would have to be a cappella, perhaps without even a cantor. As for altar servers, lectors, EMHCs, and ushers we end up having to make endless phone calls BEGGING people to serve at the less-popular Masses.
With all those WORDS as background, without further ado, here is the 2018 Christmas Mass schedule:
COVER PHOTO: We are blessed with absolutely BEAUTIFUL grounds in Dunbar. Last Tuesday they were rendered even MORE beautiful by a dusting of one of God's greatest winter gifts (and everyone's favourite four-letter word) SNOW! On this first Sunday of Advent this winter shot of Madonna and Child decked out in snowy finery seemed quite apropos. Mary's "yes" to God's will is integral to this season of preparation. Without that "yes" there would be NO Christmas for which to prepare. And most importantly there would be NO Saviour to set us free from sin and death. "Blessed are you among women, and blest is the fruit of your womb!"
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