Thank you very much for all who responded to let us know your preferred choice of Christmas Mass. It has been helpful in our further discussion of how to plan our Masses for Christmas. May we please remind you that it is not a booking system – when you informed us of your plans for Christmas Mass, you were not reserving a seat. It is a first come first served system as it always has been. We have to apply fully to the safety regulations and therefore cannot allow more people than is safely permitted to enter the Church. To clarify then, the Mass times for Christmas are:
Christmas Eve 24th December: 6.00pm; 8.00pm (Livestreamed); 10.00pm; 12.00am Midnight
Christmas Day 25th December: 8.30am; 10.00am (Livestreamed); 11.30am.
You may plan to attend the time of Mass that you have always done so in previous years. You may be aware of how crowded some of these Masses tend to be, hence the need to provide more Mass times. If more people come than the church can safely hold, then we will have to lock the Church doors and ask people to come back for a later Mass. It’s not a pleasant thing to do but if we must, we must. We need, therefore, to call upon your understanding and consideration to realise that this is not a traditional year and things are very different. To help us, it may be worth considering choosing, if it were possible, one of the new times we have – 8.00pm or 10.00pm, for example, so that numbers could be spread a little more evenly.
Please remember that the experience of Mass at Christmas is going to be different – we are still very much in COVID times – so there will be no congregational singing of your favourite carols. There is no children’s Nativity performance.
We have been reminded also by our Archbishop, John Wilson, that the whole Octave (8 days from 25th December – 1st January) is celebrated as Christmas Day, so attending Mass on any one of these days is still embraced as an attendance for Christmas. Please let us quote you from the letter he has sent us:
‘The Church regards each day in an Octave as if it were the solemnity itself. Thus, I would like to invite parishes to encourage their communities to make full use of the Christmas Octave and, if it is not possible to attend Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year, to do so during the Christmas Octave.’
We do not wish to spoil any plans that you have for Christmas, but nothing is as we want it to be. We thank you for your understanding and help. Whatever Mass and whatever day it may be, we very much look forward to greeting you for the Birth of Our Saviour.