Laudetur Iesus Christus and a blessed vigil of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ! Sunday is the commemoration of the most important day in the history of the universe – after four thousand years of sin and darkness, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (John 1:14). As the Christmas season is just mere hours away, we share the following updates:
Christmas Latin Mass Schedule – Feast of the Nativity Sunday December 25
Midnight Latin Masses
- St. Thomas Aquinas parish
- St. Ann parish
- St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country, Boone, NC (2 hours northwest of Charlotte)
- Our Lady of the Angels, Marion, NC (1.5 hours northwest of Charlotte)
- St. John the Baptist, Tryon (2 hours west of Charlotte)
- Prince of Peace, Taylors, SC (2 hours southwest of Charlotte)
Christmas Day Latin Masses
- 11:30am – St. Thomas Aquinas
- 1pm – Our Lady of Grace, Greensboro
- 1pm – Our Lady of the Lake, Chapin, SC (2 hours south of Charlotte)
- All other parishes: Please check the parish bulletin or call ahead to confirm.
**IMPORTANT SCHEDULING NOTE: There will not be a 12:30pm Latin Mass at St. Ann parish on Christmas Day – only Midnight Mass**
Christmas Week Schedule Changes (as announced)
- Thursday December 29, St. Thomas Aquinas, 10am Latin Mass (the 7pm Latin Mass is canceled for this day only)
- All other Latin Masses in Charlotte are on normal schedule unless otherwise announced. Please check the bulletins to confirm.
To see the January 1 and Epiphany schedule as announced, please our Mass times webpage: https://charlottelatinmass.org/mass-times/
Traditional Christmas Proclamation
St. Ann and St. Thomas Aquinas parishes traditionally chant the ancient Christmas proclamation at Midnight Mass each Christmas (it occurs a minute or two before Mass begins). This is a beautiful chant that was unfortunately lost after 1960s, only to return in a weaker modernized format in 1994. Graciously, the scholas at St. Ann and St. Thomas Aquinas sign the traditional Christmas proclamation. Here are links to compare the traditional and the modern:
- Traditional 1962 (taken from a parish chanting it in in 2019): https://tlm-md.blogspot.com/2019/12/kalendas-2019-christmas-proclamation.html (see PDF version here)
- Modern (taken from USCCB website): https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year-and-calendar/christmas/christmas-proclamation
The 3 Masses of Christmas
As Christmas approaches, in the 1962 Missal there are 3 Latin Masses for Christmas: Midnight, Dawn, and Day. Each represent the three-fold Nativity of Christ and the Masses are all connected to each other, becoming a sort of a triduum (like Easter) or a trilogy. Priests are also allowed to offer three Masses to commemorate the birth of Our Savior. The first Mass is midnight, which marks Christ coming into the dark world at Bethlehem on December 25, 1 B.C.; Mass at dawn symbolizes the spiritual birth of Christ in our souls and Mass during the day represents eternal love of Christ for coming to us in the Incarnation.
We provide some great information from Fisheaters.com and a 2016 talk given by Fr. Innocent Smith, OP of New York who based it off of St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings. The 3 Masses are:
Midnight Mass: “The Angels’” Mass, symbolizing Christ’s eternal birth, which takes place before creation, hidden from Men. Thus Mass is offered in the hidden darkness at Midnight. According to tradition, Christ was born at Midnight.
Mass at Dawn: “The Shepherds’” Mass, symbolizing the spiritual birth of Christ into our hearts, where He, the Sun, is like “the morning star that rise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). Thus typically Mass is offered at dawn or early morning when daylight is breaking. The text of Mass focuses on the coming light of Christ that will shine on mankind.
Mass at Day: “The Kings’” Mass, symbolizing the temporal and bodily nativity of Christ, which He processes to us in a visible and bodily form, having put on the flesh. Thus Mass is offered in full daylight as He is now fully visible to men. The text of Mass (at least the Introit) focuses on Christ’s humanity. (N.B. Others like liturgist Dom Gueranger have a different order of the 3 Masses than St. Thomas)
The FSSP Latin Mass parish in Atlanta, also shared this 1920 article of the 3 Masses: https://www.dominicanajournal.org/wp-content/files/old-journal-archive/vol5/no3/dominicanav5n3threemasseschristmasday.pdf
The Three Universal “Peaces”
Christ was born on December 25, 1 B.C., during the great Pax Romana (Roman Peace), when the world was at peace and there was no war in the Roman Empire. Fr. William Rock, FSSP, wrote a helpful article explaining what this Roman Peace meant for those living under the Roman Empire during those days:
- Christmas Eve Prime: The Whole World at Peace: https://fssp.com/christmas-eve-prime-the-whole-world-at-peace/
Yet the Pax Romana was but one of the three periods in human history where there is a universal peace. Dom Prosper Gueranger noted in The Liturgical Year (on the feast of St. Ambrose, December 7), that St. Bonaventure taught that tradition holds there are three periods of time where the world will be at peace (the 3 silences). The first was after the Noe’s flood subsided when all of humanity was wiped out (except Noe’s family); the 2nd was as noted above, during the birth of Christ (Pax Romana); and the 3rd shall be in the last days after the defeat of the anti-Christ. Gueranger writes:
Let us consider that last visible preparation for the coming of the Messias: a universal peace. The din of war is silenced, and the entire world is intent in expectation. ‘There are three silences to be considered,’ says St. Bonaventure, in one of his sermons for Advent; ‘the first in the days of Noah, after the deluge had destroyed all sinners; the second, in the days of Cæsar Augustus, when all nations were subjected to the empire; the third will be at the death of Antichrist, when the Jews shall be converted.’ O Jesus! Prince of peace, Thou wiliest that the world shall be in peace, when Thou art coming down to dwell in it. Thou didst foretell this by the psalmist, Thy ancestor in the flesh, who, speaking of Thee, said: ‘He shall make wars to cease even to the end of the earth, He shall destroy the bow, and break the weapons; and the shield He shall bum in the fire.’ And why is this, O Jesus? It is, that hearts which Thou art to visit must be silent and attentive. It is that before Thou enterest a soul, Thou troublest it in Thy great mercy, as the world was troubled and agitated before the universal peace; then Thou bringest peace into that soul, and Thou takest possession of her. Oh! come quickly, dear Lord, subdue our rebellious senses, bring low the haughtiness of our spirit, crucify our flesh, rouse our hearts from their sleep: and then may Thy entrance into our souls be a feast-day of triumph, as when a conqueror enters a city which he has taken after a long siege. Sweet Jesus, Prince of peace! give us peace; fix Thy kingdom so firmly in our hearts, that Thou mayst reign in us for ever.
- Reflection for Feast of St. Ambrose, December 7: https://fsspatl.com/liturgical-year/505-sanctoral-cycle/december/3013-december-7-st-ambrose-bishop-and-doctor
Don’t Stop Celebrating: After Christmas Day, Christmas continues
While the secular world prepares to take down the Christmas trees this week, the Church is only beginning to celebrate the Christmas season, all the way until February 2nd. As an annual custom, we share this excellent article by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski on the importance of celebrating Christmas for the next 40 days: https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/dont-stop-celebrating-after-christmas-day-christmas-continues-2/
Christmas Reflections by Dom Prosper Gueranger
As we close this Christmas update, we note that an entire month could probably be devoted to the beautiful Christmas reflections offered by the great 19th century Benedictine liturgist, Dom Prosper Gueranger. We conclude with his reflection from the Aurora Mass (Mass at dawn), and the Shepherds’ visit to the crib of Christ:
See, then, how, at this very hour, Shepherds are told by the Angels to go to Bethlehem, and how they hasten thither. With great eagerness they enter the Stable, which is scarcely large enough to hold them. Obedient to the warning received from heaven, they are come to see the Saviour, who, they have been told, has been born unto them. They find all things just as the Angels had said. Who could tell the joy of their hearts, and the simplicity of their faith? They are not surprised to find, in the midst of poverty greater even than their own, him whose Birth has made the very Angels exult. They find no difficulty in acknowledging the wonderful mystery; they adore, they love, the Babe that lies there before them. They are at once Christians, and the Christian Church begins in them; the mystery of a God humbled for man finds faith in these humble souls. Herod will plot the death of this Babe; the Synagogue will rage; the Scribes and Doctors will league together against the Lord and his Christ; they will put this Saviour of Israel to death; but the faith of the Shepherds will not be shaken, and will find imitators in the wise and powerful ones of this world, who will come at last, and bow down their reason to the Crib and the Cross.
What is it that has come over these poor Shepherds? Christ has been born in their hearts; he dwells in them by faith and love. They are our Fathers in the Church. They are our Models. Let us imitate them, and invite the Divine Infant to come into our souls, which we will so prepare for him, that he may find nothing to prevent his entering. It is for our sakes also that the Angels speak; it is to us also that they tell the glad tidings; for the Mystery that has been accomplished this Night is too grand to have the pastoral slopes of Bethlehem for its limits. In order to honour the silent coming of the Saviour into the souls of men, the Priest is preparing to go to the altar, and a second time to offer the spotless Lamb to the Father who hath sent him.
As the Shepherds fixed their eyes on the Crib, so let ours be on the Altar, where we are soon to behold the same Jesus, hidden under appearances that are humbler even than the swathing-bands. These rustic swains enter into the Cave, not yet knowing him, whom they are going to see; but their hearts are quite ready for the revelation. Suddenly they see the Infant; and as they gaze upon him in speechless wondering, Jesus looks at them from his Crib, and smiles upon them: they are changed men, full of light, and the Sun of Justice has made Day in their souls. It is to be the same with us: the words of the Prince of the Apostles are to be verified in us: the Light that shineth in a dark place, has been our one desire and attention; now the Day will dawn, and the Day-Star arise in our hearts.
- December 25 (the Same Day): the Second Mass, or Mass of the Aurora: https://fsspatl.com/liturgical-year/505-sanctoral-cycle/december/3410-december-25-the-same-day-the-second-mass-or-mass-of-the-aurora
On behalf of the CLMC, we wish our readers a Merry Christmas.