Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Answer about Christmas Eucharist

A commenter asked for my opinion on his church's Christmas Eucharist debate. Here's what the comment said:

"Currently in a situation at my church that sparked my interest in your opinion. Christmas day is Sunday this year. The church I attend always serves communion on Sunday Worship. However, Christmas Eve is usually communion candlelight. This year they are omitting it becuase it will be offered in 10 hours. The debates/gossip that are flying around I find only deal with the issue of "we always do it" with no theological reflection. For a Christmas Eve service, which usually draws people who only come to the church for this service each year, is it fair to argue the church should offer communion because of our vistitor's expectations? We don't want to let them down, now do we?

"If this sacrament is central to this churches services, and Christmas Eve is a service, and Sunday is also a service, should it be offered or cut out?"

So naturally I took it to my resident liturgical expert professor, and here is his answer:

"Christmas means literally the Mass celebrated in honor of Christ’s nativity, hence Christ’s Mass=Christmas. Christmas liturgically begins at sunset on December 24th. It has been a longstanding tradition to offer multiple liturgies/masses through the night. In Rome these were stational liturgies held throughout the city (including a liturgy at St Anastasia).

"You could, I suppose, celebrate a synaxis liturgy (Word only) at either Christmas Eve or Christmas, but it would presume attendance at both by all. Likewise, maybe preferably, one could hold an office of Compline as a vigil on Christmas Eve and then the Eucharist on Christmas.

"Personally I would advocate 13 straight Masses from 12/24-1/6, but of course I am a member of a religious order and that’s what the good Sisters and Brothers do—and it is glorious."

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Anyway, if anyone else has thoughts, let's have 'em.


Anonymous said...

I know that the Catholics have a rule that you can't have communion more than once a day. Seems they had a problem with people going to every available mass.

For me, everytime we can break bread together as a community is a good thing. That's why I prefer churches that do it every week instead of once a month or once a quarter.

May we who share one bread be one body in Christ.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of such a rule, Jennifer—the Newman Center at the nearby university has two Masses each Sunday.

I'm a fan of the thirteen Masses idea. But I just love the Eucharist in general. I go to a once-a-month kind of church right now, and I don't feel very spiritually connected as a result.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I think what Jennifer was referring to is the rule that one individual should not take communion more than once a day, not that a church cannot serve it more than once a day.