by Msgr Michael de Verteuil, Chairman of the Liturgical Commission
Every five or six years (the next one will be in 2023) Christmas Day falls on the Monday immediately after the Fourth Sunday of Advent. This means a lot of extra work for choirs, sacristans, decorators and priests as there will be an increased number of Masses as we celebrate these two days with their two different focuses. It also means two ‹days of obligation› one after the other. But all for Jesus!
On Sunday 24 we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and, it being a Sunday, the Church gathers in praise, thanksgiving and offering as we do every Sunday. Parishes will have Masses on the Saturday evening and the Sunday morning as we remember that mystery of Christ who will come again even as we prepare to celebrate that He has come in the flesh.
This first coming of Christ we gather to celebrate on Christmas Day (Monday) or on Christmas Eve (the evening of Sunday 24).
We are expected to, we should want to, celebrate both feasts of Christ who came and will come again. Since the two days each have their own focus, going to Mass only on the evening of Sunday 24 will not satisfy the demands of each day, the Sunday and Christmas Day (no two-for-one deal here).
Let us be generous with the Lord who has been more than generous with us; let us show our love for God by making time for our praise and thanksgiving. Let us see these two days not as burden but as gift; not as obligation but as joy.