Vigil Masses/ Midnight Mass

A few years ago, our then parish priest instituted a new custom here in our parish of having a Holy Hour followed by Mass at midnight on New Year’s Eve. This proved to be a popular devotion with many opting to see the new year in with prayer and the Eucharist rather than with a drunken debauch.

Our new parish priest has stopped this saying that midnight mass on New Year’s Eve is not liturgical. Our assistant priests were able to get his approval for a Holy Hour of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 11pm to 12 pm so we didn’t entirely miss out.

My question is: what are the norms/regulations concerning vigil masses? Why is a mass at midnight not considered a vigil mass?

Any comments/information?

Code of Canon Law, canon 931 “The celebration and distribution of the Eucharist make take place on any day and at any hour, except those which are excluded by the liturgical laws.”
(The Code of Canon Law: New Revised English Translation, HarperCollins Liturgical, 1997, ISBN 0-00-599375-X.)

So the parish priest is permitted to have a Mass at this time, but has chosen not to.

The priest is correct insofar as the liturgy never envisged a Midnight Mass for January 1 the way it specifically notes one for Christmas Day.

However, there is no prohibition on celebrating Mass at midnight.

More “traditional” is the custom of celebrating First Vespers of January 1 followed by the Te Deum of thanksgiving for the previous year.

So the priest in question is wrong to say the practice isn’t “liturgical” (sheesh, where do some of these guys get their educations?)…but it isn’t something the liturgy envisages as a customary practice.

January 1st is the Solemnity of Mary and has a vigil Mass. there is no reason that Mass could not be said either at 11PM or beginning at/after Midnight.

Thank you, everyone who has replied. This clarifies the liturgical position for me.

This priest has changed a number of things in the parish much to the dismay of many parishioners. I think he must be unwell but it doesn’t explain why he forbids some things like the vigil Mass at midnight for the Solemnity of the Mother of God when our assistant priests are able and willing to perform the acts in question. It is particularly disheartenening that he is away from the parish so much. He is currently taking his annual 4 weeks holiday. I don’t begrudge him that but this is on top of him being away at least one week every month and sometimes two. No one knows what he is doing when he is away or where he has gone. I think something must be seriously wrong and I have been one of his stauchest supporters (he is a priest and we owe him the respect due to his office).

Please pray for him. I think he is in great need.

I think I will suggest to them that next year we have the more traditional observance of First Vespers and the Te Deumsince we have been forbidden the vigil Mass at midnight.

Don’t you just hate it when you have a good priest at your parish and then he is transfered and you get someone different who wants to change everything and ruin everything as his replacement. It happened in my parish as well.

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