Why Do We Go to Midnight Mass on Christmas?

The Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Keeping vigil has always been a spiritual practice in Catholicism. This is what we are essentially doing by attending any “Vigil” Mass, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Savior.

There is also a biblical reference here that can be included. The shepherds in Luke’s infancy narratives in his Gospel were keeping watch over their sheep on the nightly vigil. In a sense, we are those same shepherds today, and we are entrusted to keep watch over one another.

While we wait for God during Advent, it’s also important to note that God also keeps Vigil for us. Many people “come home” to church at Christmas and find God welcoming them back once again. We pray that they find our Church to be a welcoming place and that we show them the love that God always offers to us. In doing so, we have the opportunity to continually welcome them home each week and pray that they will be part of our community regularly.

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Mike Hayes

Mike Hayes is the Director of Young Adult Ministry in the Diocese of Cleveland and the host of 5 Questions with the Paulists. Mike is one of the founders of Busted Halo and has worked with young adults his entire ministry career in retreat, spiritual direction, and campus Ministry. He’s the author of "Googling God" (Paulist, 2007) and "Loving Work" (Orbis, 2012). Mike and his wife Marion live in Lakewood, OH with their dog, Haze.