Christmas (Mass During the Night)
December 25, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.






O God, who have made this most sacred night
radiant with the splendor of the true light,
grant, we pray, that we, who have known the mysteries of his light on earth,
may also delight in his gladness in heaven.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Is 9:1-6

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David's throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

Responsorial Psalm 96:1-2,2-3,11-12,13

Second Reading  Ti 2:11-14

The grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.

Gospel Acclamation


Gospel Lk 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Catena Nova:

Rejoice, dearly beloved, for today our Saviour is born! There can be no place for sadness on the birthday of life itself. For this day has swallowed up all fear of death, and in its promise of eternity has replaced fear with joy. No one at all is excluded from today’s festive celebration, for there is a single great cause of joy which applies to everyone alike. For our Lord is the destroyer of sin and death; and since he found no one at all free from guilt, so he came in order to set all alike free. Let the Saint then be filled with joy, for he is hastening to receive his palm. Let the sinner rejoice, for he is invited to receive pardon. Let the Gentile be filled with eager hope, for he is called to life. (St. Leo the Great)

 The Word of God, born once on the level of the flesh, is always born willingly for those who desire it on the level of the spirit, because of his love for humanity. He becomes an infant, forming himself in them by the virtues; he manifests himself in just the measure of which he knows the one who is receiving him is capable. It is not through any ill-will that he diminishes the manifestation of his own majesty; it is rather that he weighs the capacity of those who desire to see him. And so, though the Word of God is always manifested in the life of those who share in him, yet because the mystery is transcendent, he remains always invisible to all. (St. Maximus the Confessor)

Today Truth has sprung up from the earth; Christ is born in the flesh. We must celebrate this day of joy as worthily as we can. It is a day which of its nature impels us to consider also the everlasting day, so we must not fail to turn our minds to that also: with hope that cannot be shaken, we should yearn for gifts that are eternal. Today we have received the power to be called children of God, so let us boldly be what we are. For our sake, the bringer-about of all time was himself brought into time; for our sake the maker of the world appeared in the flesh; for our sake the Creator was created. So why do we who must still die still seek our joy in perishable things; why do we put so much futile effort into clutching on to this fleeting life? A much brighter hope has now lit up the whole earth: it promises, even to us who live on earth, eternal life in heaven. (St. Augustine)

 What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to human  hands. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infant’s bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of his Goodness. (St. John Chrysostom)

 It is no use to say that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts. But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks, with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers and suburban housewives that he gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that he longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ. (Dorothy Day)

My heart has become Your manger,
Awaiting You,
But not for long!
Maria, Your mother and also mine
Has given me her name.
At midnight she will place her newborn child
Into my heart.

Ah, no one’s heart can fathom,
What You’ve in store for those who love You.
Now You are mine, and I won’t let You go.
Wherever my life’s road may lead,
You are with me.
Nothing can ever part me from Your love. (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross/Edith Stein)

 When we contemplate the Incarnate Word at Bethlehem, let us rise above the things of sense so as to gaze upon Him with the eyes of faith alone. Faith makes us share here below in the knowledge that the Divine Persons have of One Another. There is no exaggeration in this. Sanctifying grace makes us indeed partakers of the divine nature. Now, the activity of the divine nature consists in the knowledge that the Divine Persons have the One of the Other, and the love that they have One for the Other. We participate therefore in this knowledge and in this love. And in the same way as sanctifying grace having its fruition in glory will give us the right of seeing God as he sees himself, so, upon earth, in the shadows of faith, grace enables us to behold deep down into these mysteries through the eyes of God. (Bl. Columba Marmion)


       As you know, nothing is sacrosanct to comedians — even Christmas.  And beneath the comedy there is often an uncomfortable truth about ourselves we'd rather not admit.  And such was Steve Martin's irreverent Saturday Night Live send-up of Christmas from 1991called — "A Holiday Wish."   It started out all right, sitting by a cozy fire in a winged back chair with a festive atmosphere and a fine sentiment: "If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be that all the children to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace."  But as wish was added to wish, he was soon hoping for things like 30 million tax-free dollars, power over every living being in the universe, revenge against his enemies, and others I cannot repeat!   Satire at its best — and as I said an all too honest look at ourselves, perhaps with never greater truth than at this time of year when greed so easily overtakes generosity.  

     For Christmas, despite our better angels, never lacks its anti-heroes — like the Grinch, or Scrooge, or Mr. Potter who made George Bailey's life anything but wonderful and, finally, the villain in the Bible's own Christmas story, King Herod.  Dr. Seuss, Charles Dickens, Frank Capra, and the Gospel of Matthew — all remind us, like Steve Martin did, how the spirit of Christmas can be soured by resentment, regret, hardheartedness, or envy.  
     Still, at the center of Christmas stand its only true hero, albeit with a cast of supporting characters.  He's known as the Prince of Peace — because his birth was hailed by a host of angels singing, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on who his favor rests — or, in the traditional rendition the Liturgy retains — people of good will.  We haven't heard those words on the four Sundays of Advent when the Gloria is not sung — all so we can hear them afresh on this otherwise Silent Night.  Angels from realms of glory bringing glad tidings to shepherds their watch a' keeping.  
     But there's a catch here.  It's that business about good will toward all — which isn't so hard tonight, is it?  For nothing extinguishes ill-will as quickly and as thoroughly as Christmas.  Who can forget, for example, the amazing story from the First World War when British and German troops dropped their weapons and crossed No Man's Land on Christmas of 1914.  Greetings were shouted from the trenches, joint services were held, gifts were exchanged, friendly football matches were played.
    British Captain Robert Miles wrote in a letter, 
We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front…. The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost – soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting 'Merry Christmas, Englishmen' to us. Of course our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man's land between the lines. Here the agreement – all on their own – came to be made that we should not fire at each other until after midnight tonight. The men were all fraternizing in the middle….and swapped cigarettes and lies in the utmost good fellowship. Not a shot was fired all night.
     Sadly, Captain Miles was killed in action on December 30th for by the start of the New Year, such things had ceased and it was back to war as usual.
     Among those opposed to the truce was a soldier from the16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry by the name of Adolf Hitler.  Not known for his good will to all.  So the truce, like a lot in our own lives and times, tells out the promise — and the tragedy — of Christmas.
    Now we have our own little truces at Christmastime, don't we?  Maybe we can manage a hello to a neighbor we can't stand, or invite a relative to dinner whose political views we detest, perhaps send a card to someone you wish would stop sending them to; you might even make a guest appearance in church!  
    But then comes the morrow.  So many Christmas trees already thrown to the curb before Good King Wenceslas can look out on the Feast of Stephen— unmindful that Christmas has Twelve Days.  But who wants "Twelve Drummers Drumming" long after the Little Drummer Boy has gone away?  Maybe it's because it all starts so early, like the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movies that began before the Halloween pumpkins were carved!  Black Friday too started in early November — no wonder some people are glad it's over before it really just begins on this holy night!
    Hopefully, though, the good will might last beyond tomorrow.  The world needs those angels and their intended audience more than ever in this war torn world and this divided country.  So give it a try and make Christmas last longer this year.   And to quote Steve Martin once more, "Thank you everybody and Merry Christmas."

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that Christ may be born in our hearts so that we may bring God’s love and hope to all whom we encounter.

For an outpouring of God's favor in our time: that God will rekindle of a childlike spirit of wonder, awe, and openness to all the gifts that God extends to us.

For a spirit of gratitude: that our minds and hearts may recognize and appreciate all that God has done for us

For all peoples on the earth: that Jesus’ presence with us will bring forth peace and goodwill; reconciliation and forgiveness; and an end to violence and terrorism.

For healing for the human family: that God who became human may help us recognize the dignity of each person who was made in the image and likeness of God.

For healing of all fear: that the angel's message, Fear Not, may free all the human family and each of us from the bonds of fear and propel us to live boldly.

For all who are traveling or away from home this night, particularly missionaries and members of the military: that God will guide their movements, preserve them in love, and bring them home safely.

For peace in Bethlehem, Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel: that God will open new communication and understanding between all who live in the Holy Land.

Good and gracious God,
on this holy night you gave us your Son,
the Lord of the universe, wrapped in swaddling clothes,
the Saviour of all, lying in a manger.
On this holy night
draw us into the mystery of your love.
Join our voices with the heavenly host,
that we may sing your glory on high.
Give us a place among the shepherds,
that we may find the one for whom we have waited,
Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant

Offertory Hymn

It came upon the midnight clear, That glorious song of old, From angels bending near the earth To touch their harps of gold: 'Peace on the earth, good-will to men, From heaven's all-gracious King!' The world in solemn stillness lay To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come, With peaceful wings unfurled; And still their heavenly music floats O'er all the weary world; Above its sad and lowly plains They bend on hovering wing; And ever o'er its Babel sounds The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife The world has suVered long; Beneath the angel-strain have rolled Two thousand years of wrong; And man, at war with man, hears not The love-song which they bring: O hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on, By prophet bards foretold, When, with the ever-circling years, Comes round the age of gold; When peace shall over all the earth Its ancient splendours fling, And the whole world give back the song Which now the angels sing.

Communion Antiphon

 Closing Hymn