The Jingle Bell Mass

A PASTORAL OPPORTUNITY LIKE NO OTHER

Almost every parish I know has a Jingle Bell Mass. It’s the one celebrated late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. It might also be referred to as the Christmas Vigil, the Family Friendly Mass, or in some places, the Children’s Mass. However, I’ve called it the Jingle Bell Mass ever since the time I walked over to the church and caught a lady (whom I had never seen before) roping off two entire pews with festive red ribbon, all the while grinning and humming Jingle Bells. When I asked her what she was doing, she matter-of-factly explained that she was saving seats for her family. It was three hours before Mass time.

This is the Mass where you try to cram eight hundred people into a church that seats four hundred and pray that the Fire Department doesn’t close you down. This is the Mass where you politely ask people to finish their cups of hot chocolate and cans of Redbull outside. This is the Mass filled with children who are sugar-high with excitement and adults who are dazed from holiday prep work, where teens are text-ing their friends who are sitting on the other side of the church—while on their way to Communion. This is the Mass attended by the famous bi-annually faithful. Most of all, this is the Mass that presents a pastoral opportunity like no other all year.

On this occasion the church is like an untouched field of snow. We have a chance to make an impression at this liturgy, a chance to either offer a reason to come back, or (at the very...

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About the Author

Fr. Nonomen (a pseudonym) is the pastor of a suburban parish. He has been a priest for more than twenty years.