Christmas pageants

Christmas pageants

Since we’re talking about all things Christmas, I wanted to ask what people think of Christmas pageants during Mass. At my parish, the Christmas Eve Mass at 4:30 is designated the family Mass and that’s when they perform the Christmas pageant. After the Gospel and before the homily, a bunch of kids in costume perform the nativity for the congregation. And I’m sorry, but it grates on me.

What happens is that it turns the Mass into a performance. Parents run around with cameras. Everybody chuckles at the little boy crawling down the center aisle in a donkey costume. We all “ahhh” over the pretty little girl in the angel costume. Then there’s clapping and such and then the performance is done. Is this the Mass?

The Mass, especially on a high feast day like Christmas, is a solemn occasion. Not dour, but solemn, as in to be treated with utmost reverence and awe. That day more than any should be given our best. We dress in our best clothes, we sing our best music, and we give our best worship.

I’m not against Christmas pageants, but I don’t think the middle of Mass is the place for them. Before Mass or after Mass, yes, but not smack in the middle. Especially for those who are twice-a-year Catholics, we need to present the Mass in all its glory and not reinforce the idea that it is like a night out at the theater or like a children’s dance recital.

I’ll never forget the year that the woman in the pew in front of me was on the phone during the Eucharistic prayer, giving instructions to the babysitter. During the Eucharistic prayer! I think when we lose the sense of the sacred, the otherness, the trancendence, people begin to ask themselves why bother with this as opposed to some activity that’s more interesting. And I don’t think Christmas pageants in the middle of Mass lead anybody to a sense of trancendence.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli