Fourth Sunday of Advent & Christmas - Two Separate Occasions
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
When I was a kid, I hated receiving one gift for both Christmas and my birthday combined. My birthday is January 7th. (On the 13th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…birth!) Many people thought they could get away with a “twofer” or that I would like one big gift instead of two smaller ones. This was not good for young me. Worse still was when I would receive birthday gifts wrapped in Christmas paper! Isn’t my birthday special enough to be celebrated separately?
This experience directly colors my views when people ask if they can just attend Mass once on Sunday evening, December 24th, for both the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve. We are obligated to celebrate both separately. Are we trying to minimize our time with Jesus?
They are two separate celebrations, with different prayers and readings, and different purposes. That Sunday Mass is all we get of the 4th week of Advent this year! Christmas deserves to be its own feast, not an add-on. To top it all off, your parish needs your financial contributions for that Sunday Mass and Christmas to stay on budget, so we have a fiduciary obligation as well.
Please keep this in mind as you are making your plans for this Christmas season. We need to spend time with Jesus as He deserves and desires. Also, pray for the musicians and liturgists who give of their time with their families to make our celebrations special. They are the “unsung” heroes of Christmas.
Peace in Christ,
Father Matthew Kuhn
For more information on Holy Days of Obligation, head to https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/holy_days_of_obligation.htm or http://www.usccb.org/about/divine-worship/liturgical-calendar/upload/2018cal.pdf for the American calendar.