Midnight Mass

In the interest of others, I share with you the press release for Midnight Mass as it contains some information about our celebration:

Milwaukee, WI, December 19, 2014—The Cathedral of St. John
the Evangelist is pleased to announce that Midnight Mass will be broadcast live
on WISN, Channel 12 at 12:00 a.m., December 25, 2014. Clearwing
Productions, Incorporated and Milwaukee Public Television, Channel 10 will
assist in the broadcast. Most Rev. Jerome E. Listecki, Archbishop of Milwaukee,
will be the celebrant.
Midnight Mass
Liturgical commemoration of the
mystery of the incarnation focuses on our being incorporated into Christ; it is
less concerned with details of his birth. However, it uses these mysterious
events as the means to disclose how God came once in human flesh to redeem all
peoples for all times.
Of all the Christmas masses, this
one most obviously displays the light/darkness symbolism of the solemnity of
The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas). In some countries, people always speak of
“Midnight Mass,” even though the Missal simply says “At the Mass during the
Night” without further specification. Based on the content of the gospel (Luke
2:8), celebrating the Nativity of the Lord by a Mass held at night in the
grotto of Bethlehem was an early tradition. From this beginning, the first Mass
for Christmas has kept its character as a celebration “near the crèche.” While
no special light symbols are added to the liturgy (as at Easter with the
paschal candle and the new fire), Christ is seen as the prime analogue of all
light.
Introductory Rites
The liturgy begins with the Proclamation
of the Birth of Christ
(in darkness except for the cantor). The proclamation,
coming from the Roman Martyrology, declares in a formal way the birth of
Christ, using references from Sacred Scripture. Beginning with Creation, it
correlates the birth of the Lord to major events in both sacred and secular
history, giving believers a context for salvation history. The text is sung.
Following the proclamation the
opening procession moves to the Crèche of the Cathedral where the Archbishop
blesses the Christmas manger scene. The practice of erecting such a manger was
begun by Saint Francis of Assisi as a means to set forth the message of
Christmas. Once the Archbishop has blessed it, he pauses for a moment for
silent prayer asking that all who look upon the crèche may continue to keep
Christ in their heart.
The choir then chants the Introit
and the procession continues throughout the Cathedral to the altar while the
congregation, choir, organ and orchestra begin the celebration of Christmas
with the traditional carol: Adeste Fideles (O Come, All Ye Faithful)
sung in both Latin and English.
Reaching the altar, the Archbishop
reverences it with a kiss and incense. This is followed by the Penitential Act,
the Gloria and the Collect. The collect makes reference to “this most sacred
night” being made “radiant with the splendor of the true light.” The motif of
darkness and light is further employed as the prayer goes on to petition “that
we, who have known the mysteries of his light on earth, may also delight in his
gladness in heaven.”
Liturgy of the Word
The readings for the Mass during
the Night proclaim that in the birth of the child prophesized by Isaiah, the
burdens of darkness and gloom that enshroud humanity are pierced by light (see
Isaiah 9:1-6). Similarly, the light of glory fills the night sky at the birth
of Jesus the Savior (see Luke 2:1-14).
Liturgy of the Eucharist
In the Eucharistic Prayer, thanks
is given to God for the whole work of salvation, and the offerings become the
Body and Blood of Christ. It is “the center and high point of the entire
celebration” and it lifts up our hearts towards the Lord in prayer and
thanksgiving. The Archbishop prays the Roman Canon which in addition to
remembering the death and resurrection of Christ, remembers that we celebrate
“the most sacred night on which blessed Mary the immaculate Virgin brought
forth the Savior for this world…”.
Concluding Rites
Midnight Mass concludes with a
solemn blessing and dismissal.
Music

Beginning
at 11:15 p.m., a 45-minute prelude of Christmas Carols and other Choral music will
be performed by members of the Cathedral Choir, Men’s Choir, Women’s Choir,
organ, orchestra and congregation under the direction of Michael J. Batcho,
Director of Music.

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