What time is Midnight Mass?

clock_arms_time_282452_l1Rocco Palmo notes the “strange but true” fact that “Midnight Mass” will begin at 10 p.m. in Rome this year—by directive of Pope Benedict himself.

This is a real head-scratcher for me. I have sympathy for overworked parish staffs who decide to schedule the Christmas Midnight Mass at an earlier hour. But what’s up at the Vatican that they can’t keep Midnight Mass at midnight?

And for those of you who do move the midnight hour back a bit, what time are you scheduling the Mass? Many places choose 11 p.m., so Mass ends at midnight. Many places, like the Vatican, choose 10 p.m. That seems like an odd choice. If the reason for an earlier time is convenience, why not 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.? Or even 9 p.m., if you’re thinking of attracting the post-dinner crowd? I can’t figure out the reason for a 10 p.m. Mass at all.

What time do you schedule Midnight Mass? And, if it’s not midnight, what is the pastoral background for your choice? Thanks for sharing.

3 Responses to “What time is Midnight Mass?”

  1. Annie says:

    We have a large parish with a total of nine masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For years our practice has been to have a concert in the church at 11:00 pm to begin Christmas worship when people are gathering in the church, but Midnight Mass begins at midnight.

  2. Nick Wagner Nick Wagner says:

    Annie, does your parish start the Easter Vigil after sundown? That’s another thing that gets my head spinning. Parishes that have no problem starting Christmas Eve Mass at midnight (or 11 or 10), absolutely refuse to start the Easter Vigil any later than 7:00 p.m., long before sunset in many places.

  3. Annie says:

    While the fire is started before sundown, the Vigil does not begin until it is dark – actually I would call it late dusk. You can still see the congregation gathered around the fire, but not really discern faces except those closest to the fire.

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