I should like to thank Mrs Monk for the kind thought she expressed in her letter of November 24 for "the already hard pressed clergy who will have two very busy and tiring days, one on top of the other" since Christmas Eve this year falls on a Sunday.
I still have vivid memories of struggling to overcome fatigue as I endeavoured to complete the former Office for Christmas Day. Its length was sufficient evidence to indicate it had been composed for the Christmas celebration of monks — no pun intended! — with no other duties other than to sing in choir.
Obviously, no thought had been given to the poor priest in the parish who had spent hours in the confessional, taken Holy Communion to the house-bound, arranged for the various church decorations, to mention but a few of his long list of tiring duties.
The authors of the new Liturgy, unlike their predecessors, show they are aware of the variety of difficulties people experience in fulfilling their spiritual duties, especially at a busy time like Christmas.
The official explanatory notes issued in 1974 in respect of the directives concerning Masses of Sundays and Holydays anticipated the previous evening state: "On the vigil of solemnities for which a specific vigil Mass is providect, eg, Christmas, this Mass is celebrated
even if the day is a Sunday". (It is noteworthy that a bishop for pastoral reasons is at liberty to permit the use of the Sunday Mass).
Hence the text of the Mass does not affect a person's intention to fulfil the Sunday obligation of attendance at Mass. It is obvious, therefore, that "a person who habitually makes this late evening Mass their obligation is not in a state of mortal sin" at evening Mass on Christmas Eve.
These official notes also point out
that two obligations cannot be fulfilled at once "because the permission is granted in order to render easier the fulfilment of such a precept, without prejudice to keeping every "Lord's Day holy".
Hence a person at Mass on Sunday evening, December 24 this year, can either fulfil the Sunday obligation Or the one for Christmas Day, but not both. Bad luck!
For the devout, the Menu notes contain a further point of interest. They confirm that "a person who has already received Holy Communion twice on a Saturday or the eve of a Holyday (once at a morning Mass and a second time at an anticipated evening Mass) may receive Holy Communion again on the Sunday or Holyday itself." The reason is because the Sunday or Holyday is in fact "another day';. (Fr) B. N. Bradley Bristol.