Since the Fourth Sunday of Advent also happens to be Christmas Eve and Christmas falls on Christmas Day, Catholics must attend Mass twice in order to fulfill both the Sunday mass requirement and the Christmas Mass requirement.
"When consecutive obligations occur on Saturday-Sunday or Sunday-Monday, the faithful must attend Mass twice to fulfill two separate obligations," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship said earlier this year.
Every other year my family and I would celebrate Christmas Mass on the Christmas Eve Vigil. Before having our son, we would attend the midnight Mass. These days, I would need two naps and three shots of espresso to stay awake until midnight. My family would gather at our house and we would host a big, somewhat traditional, Italian Christmas Eve dinner and then we would all attend Mass together.
When I say "somewhat traditional" I am referring to the Italian, and Neapolitan, "Feast of the Seven Fishes" which is celebrated on Christmas Eve. While growing up, my nonna would cook for days leading up to Christmas Eve. For our family, there were many more than just 7 fish dishes. I can even remember a platter of an entire cooked octopus on the dining room table surrounded by a multitude of other dishes she would make.
While I aspire to be as wonderful of a cook as my grandmother, my family barely eats fish now, not evening mentioning an octopus. So instead I make some seafood, like baked stuffed fish, linguine with clam sauce and shrimp cocktail. I tried frying calamari one year but haven't been brave enough to revisit that undertaking again. Oil + high temperatures + toddler = disaster.
While the menu is the same as previous years, Mass this year is different as I mentioned Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday. When I first realized this I wondered how we were going to make it work.
Luckily, Under Thy Roof put together a great graphic which helps decide which two masses to attend:
The takeaway: attend TWO Masses this weekend, using whichever combination explained above.
When I say we "have" to attend two masses, I mean it in a general context, not that it is a burden. As, Jesus Christ is the real reason for the season, I think it is actually quite nice to be spending some extra time with Him on His birthday.
How will you be celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Will there be octopus involved? Please share with us on Facebook.
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!