We’ve all heard the joke: “What time is Midnight Mass?” However, over the years, many churches have opted to have a Mass for Christmas earlier in the evening on Christmas Eve, and erroneously called it “Midnight Mass." From a practical and logistical standpoint, it makes sense, as Mass at Midnight is difficult for all, especially since earlier Vigils are now allowed and Masses are also celebrated on Christmas morning.

A little historical perspective is in order: Mass at Midnight for Christmas dates back to the days before Vigil Masses were allowed and there was an all-day fast required on Christmas Eve. Before Vigil Masses were allowed by Pope Paul VI in 1972, the earliest Mass for Christmas was at Midnight, technically Christmas Day. It was a much anticipated Mass, as it was considered the most beautiful liturgy of Christmas...and by then, folks were really hungry! Nevertheless, there remained a special formulary for "Mass at Midnight" in the Sacramentary of Pope Paul.

When the new Roman Missal was promulgated in 2010 this formulary was removed. There is no longer a special formulary for “Mass at Midnight” since that time; it was replaced with “Mass in the Night.” Obviously, any Mass later than the normal Vigils could be considered “Mass in the Night." You may recall that Pope Benedict opted to celebrate “Midnight Mass” in Rome at 10 p.m. Roman Time! I suppose as Pastor of the Universal Church, it was “midnight somewhere!” At that time he cited his age and the hardship it placed on others.

It is no secret that the 4:00 p.m. Vigil on Christmas Eve is by far the most attended Mass of Christmas. And traditionally, the number who attend 5:30 p.m. (which we consider our “Children’s Mass”) is quite large, as is the 8:00 a.m. Mass on Christmas Day. While some of you do attend Mass at Midnight on Christmas, the numbers are not as they were many years ago. With that being said, I announce that at St. Rita we will have THREE Masses on Christmas Eve: 4:00 p.m. Vigil; 5:30 p.m. Vigil (“Children’s Mass”) and 8:00 p.m. “Mass in the Night.” This 8:00 p.m. Mass will have all the elements that we are used to at “Midnight Mass” and allow more to experience this beautiful liturgy and to enjoy the hard work and hours of preparation of our ministers, choir and musicians!


Masses on Christmas Day will be at 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. On behalf of our ministers, choir, musicians and clergy, I appreciate your understanding and support!

–Fr. Craig Scott