Redemptorist Tradition of the Votive Mass of Christmas

Photo by OC-Travel
The Roman Rite enjoys a plethora of liturgical arts.  Some are less known.  Religious orders enjoy a special enrichment that manifests itself with various "bonus" liturgical prerogatives.  These are rights or privileges that are exclusive to particular religious congregations.  One such is the wonderful custom among the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (a.k.a. the Redemptorists) of the Votive Mass of Christmas, celebrated the 25th of every month throughout the year by members of the congregation.

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), the founder of the Redemptorits, was a bishop and Doctor of the Church.  Like every good son of the Kingdom of Naples, he was very fond of Christmas.  During his lifetime he found himself singing Christmas carols throughout the year and had great devotion to the infant Jesus.  This beautiful spirituality he imbibed in his followers who joined his order, founded in 1732.

Also known as "Little Christmas," this celebration consists of a Votive Mass (the Second Mass of Christmas), a privilege granted by the Holy See to Redemptorist priests at the request of St. Alphonsus.  This monthly Mass is often accompanied by the placing of a statue of the baby Jesus in a manger scene adorned with flowers and candles and the singing of Christmas carols (including an Italian favorite, written by St. Alphonsus himself, Tu Scendi dalle Stelle).

It was a great privilege to attend the October 25th Holy Mass (above photo) with Fr. Anthony Mary, CSsR, of the Transalpine Redemptorists.  A native of the colony of Southern Rhodesia, he is a fine priest (I have a soft spot for him because my wife is from South Africa).  The Mass was celebrated at the beautiful church of St. Mark in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Constructed in 1918, St. Mark's was incidentally once the diocesan parish that produced the most amount of vocations (in the Diocese of St. Paul) until the catastrophic fallout that accompanied the cultural revolution that infiltrated the Church in the 1960s. 

The Transalpine Redemptorists, the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, are doing great things.   They are a traditional order loyal to the Holy See and blessed with growing vocations.  All are encouraged to follow their adventures on their popular blog, Transalpine Redemptorists.  Seminarians of their congregation receive their formation from the FSSP at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska.  While their main base continues to be Golgotha Monastery on the island of Papa Stronsay off the coast of Scotland, they are now seeking to build a new monastery in the mountains of the South Island of New Zealand.  Two years ago land was acquired on a mountaintop that has been named Mt. St. Joseph Kakahu ("cloak" in the native Polynesian language), named after St. Jospeh's cloak, whose protection the monastery is under. 

Venerable Pius XII had great devotion to St. Alphonsus -- in the Holy Year 1950 he declared him the patron saint of confessors and moral theologians.  St. Alphonsus gave the Church a great many traditions and spiritual practices, including the most popular version of the Via Crucis for Latin Rite Catholics. 

I ask everyone to support the Transalpine Redemptorists and to develop a special devotion to St. Alphonsus, one of the finest saints the Church has ever produced.

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