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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“We must say it plainly: the Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone. Some walls of the structure have fallen, others have been altered—we can look at it as a ruin or as the partial foundation of a new building. Think back, if you remember it, to the Latin sung High Mass with Gregorian chant. Compare it with the modern post-Vatican II Mass. It is not only the words, but also the tunes and even certain actions that are different. In fact it is a different liturgy of the Mass.”
— Fr. Joseph Gelineau (1978)

Midnight Mass
published 24 December 2012 by Fr. David Friel

OME FOLKS WOULD THINK IT CRAZY to head out in the dead middle of a cold & snowy night to attend Christmas Midnight Mass. But there’s nothing better we could do. Can you think of a better expression of our faith than this? We believe that God, in an incomparable act of love, sent His only Son to become a Baby on this earth to bring us light. It’s only fitting that we should trudge ourselves out of our houses, in the darkest moments of the day, to welcome this Child of Light among us.

What Child is this? Who has come among us? The Christmas liturgy, itself, tells us: “Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.” He is the “Wonder Counselor,” a “Prince of Peace,” “God Hero!” He is Love Personified! Now that He is here, salvation has dawned upon us. Just a single breath of the Christ Child would have been enough for us to be saved, because (at last!) there was Someone Who could pay the debt of sin.

But God had even more beautiful plans. He sent His Son not only to redeem the world, but to teach us how to be light, ourselves. When we put the needs of others ahead of our own, we spread light through the world. When we practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, we bring light to this world. When we give of ourselves without counting the cost, we become the light of the world. In all these ways, we have the power to dispel the darkness that surrounds us with the Light of Christ, which cannot be conquered or hidden or dimmed.

Catholics make a statement by clinging to the tradition of Midnight Mass. We tell the Baby Jesus, as well as the whole world, that we will not hold back the light of our faith. When challenged, we will respond with the light we have received. We are on a mission to continue the mission of Jesus: the mission of illuminating the darkness of the world.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Not only have we seen a great Light, but we are choosing to let that Light shine brightly in our hearts, in our neighborhoods, and in our world. As St. John says so beautifully in the Prologue to His Gospel: “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

May the witness of our lives in the coming Year of Our Lord 2013 shine forth with the wonderful Light of Christ!