“Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, good will towards men”
They are familiar words that belong to the hopes and joys of the Christmas season. We forget, however, that they are Angels’ words, words conveyed on Angels’ wings to shepherds first and from them to us.
Christmas is far more than a one day wonder. Apart from the celebrated twelve days of Christmas, there is the interesting feature of Christmas itself, a festival that embraces three masses, three celebrations that emphasize certain distinct but interrelated features belonging to Christmas. The three masses are variously named but they focus on the Angels’ Mass, the Shepherds’ Mass and the Mass of the Divine Word, Mass here being a word referring to the liturgy. Christmas means simply Christ’s Mass, the celebration of the Incarnation, liturgically speaking, from which the term Christmas has carried over into the reality of the season and even into secular culture.
The Angels’ Mass focuses on the role of the Angels in bringing the news of great wonder to the Shepherds and rejoicing angelically in words which become the basis of the Gloria. “Glory to God and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Such commemorations by no means exhaust the rich and deep and beautiful meaning of Christmas but they order our contemplations and serve to underscore the great wonder and mystery of Christmas.