Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Christmas/Advent Liturgy

Christmas/Advent Liturgy QUESTION from Milissa on December 19, 2002 Our children's Catholic school has a Advent Liturgy every year around Dec. 19. All children attend; their parents are invited. It is held in the gym because of great attendance. 1st,2nd & 3rd graders sit on the stage behind the altar during the entire mass. The other grades sit together. Each grade performs certain songs during the mass. The 8th grade performs a play (usually after communion). After the opening O Come, O Come Emmanuel the rest of the songs are Christmas songs. I consider this to more of a program in a mass setting. I believe that the program atmosphere detracts from the Eucharist. I feel that most parents are there to watch their children perform rather than to participate in the mass. We have brought these concerns to our priests and principals over the year, but they feel the mass is beautiful & having the program during a mass is more Catholic than just having a Christmas Program. I cannot find anything official to show them. Are we right or are they
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on December 25, 2002 Dear Milissa,
Sounds like bad news to me, but I doubt that anything can be done about it since once these traditions are established it is difficult to remove them without seriously upsetting a lot of people.
I would say that the most serious abuse here is changing the Holy Mass to a performance rather than a sacrifice. Many people truly believe that Mass is a performance, probably because Mass has beautiful music and the church somewhat resembles an auditorium.
I presume that you are already aware that some of the things you mentioned were illicit, such as the children around the altar, singing inappropriate hymns for the season, and the addition of a play.
I think that the best way this could be solved is to separate the program from the Mass, that is, first have the program with the play and songs and whatever, and then immediately move into the Sacred Liturgy, with the priest somehow explaining the distinction, explaining that we are moving into a more solemn form of prayer. (also moving into the church if at all possible) This sounds catholic enough to me, anything less is inappropriate.
Mr. Slavek
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