Christmas Cheer and Gratitude

I had a marvelous time this past weekend, despite being a little fatigued from the flu. I feel so much better today. Perhaps it was Adventitis.

Originally, we were looking at thirteen Masses in 45 hours. Which seems rather extreme. I bet the pope doesn’t have to worry about such a schedule, nor his liturgist. Our new pastor asked a few scheduling questions last month and we decided to trim things a bit. Our noon Mass on Sunday was cancelled (Sunday’s 5PM, naturally, was superceded by our Vigil schedule). Christmas morning saw more erosion, going from 8-10-12 to 9 and 11. But seven Christmas Masses were capably handled by our three priests.

First, Saturday night’s Mass was enormous. It looked like Christmas Eve, with people packing the choir loft, the cry room, the vestibule, and hanging out the front door on their cell phones. Sunday was nearly empty in comparison; only half-full pews for our three morning Masses.

The big adult choir moved from 8PM to 3:30 PM on Christmas Eve. That caused a bit of trembling, and a bit of fussing from at least one member who e-mailed me back and forth on it for a few days. We lost choir loft seating for the assembly and many of those folks ended up in the school auditorium, where I had the children’s choir, or again, on their cell phones just outside the front door. Last year, our first Christmas worshipper arrived at 1:56PM. This year, it was five minutes later. The first occupied seat was five rows from the back, right side.
My small adult choir did 6PM to a full church. 8PM, without the big choir, was less-populated by a factor of the size of the choir plus their families.

Midnight music was my now-traditional pick-up choir of people who mostly don’t sing in choirs any other time of year. This was one of my favorite liturgies. You might think that for a brand-new, cobbled-together group of four men and twelve women it might be rough going. But one singer commented that in comparison to another parish choir (that shall go nameless) nobody was timid about entrances: everybody came in on time and on pitch. My wife said how nice it was to sing in a group without a single weak singer.

My friend Fran brought her sister from Texas, her daughter home from Chicago, and a daughter-in-law fresh from two years in Thailand with the Peace Corps. We had two youth cantors, an adult cantor, a good guitarist, and two refugees from the big adult choir doing triple duty. (Their choir was back to sing at 11AM Christmas morning.) The only snafu was my poor wife announcing the closing song, “Go Tell It” with the number of “Hark, The Herald,” which I had left on the musicians’ listing.

By the time Santa was assisted, I rolled into bed at 3:24AM, only about nineteen hours after I started my day with the tail-end of 7:30AM Sunday Mass.  And less than four hours before Brittany tore into our bedroom with the excited screams of “It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas! Santa came! Wake up!”

I find myself very grateful for my understanding family, and that we managed a good amount of time together despite the busy nature of the season for a liturgist. I found that even though I continued to misplace tape and scissors, I enjoy helping Santa, and I realize that perhaps more of that experience is behind me than ahead of me.

I’m deeply grateful for the many fine parishioners who craft beautiful Christmas music and decoration Mass after Mass and year after year.

Most of all, Deo gratias, for the stunning feast of the Incarnation, which truly gives as an opportunity for reflection, soul-searching, and joy. It’s a good time to be a Christian.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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