“Blue” Christmas

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/24/Ornament3.jpg/181px-Ornament3.jpgWe’re not talking liturgical colors.

Teresa Berger posts on “Blue Christmas” on PrayTell. In my parish, we devote November to reaching out to those who have lost loved ones. So this sounds a lot like what we do, except the month before:

These are worship services designed for those who know that the upcoming Christmas celebrations will be painful for them, usually because of the loss of a loved one in the past year.  A blue Christmas service allows people to acknowledge their sense of loss and the shadow it casts over this holiday season, with its deeply emotional and familial  traditions.

Liturgy is a start, but by itself, doesn’t replace the necessary pastoral connections. People who attend a remembrance service for their deceased loved ones likely need (and recognize they need) further healing and those connections with people of their church community. I’m not sure that Advent, with reconciliation form II, one or two (8, 12 December) holy days, family and/or school events, and preparations for Christmas, is the best landing place for another liturgy.

Or perhaps it fills a need not covered at other times. Ms Berger is right that holiday time is a difficult time for people struggling with loss. Reforging interpersonal ties can start with worship, but it also needs personal invitation, and a sensitive reaching out to those in sorrow or pain. Does your community do anything along these lines?

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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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3 Responses to “Blue” Christmas

  1. Todd, I commented at PTB regarding the Universal Prayer in particular, but your take on this spurred quite another thought. Whether or not you programmed “Ad te levavi”, Ps.25 from the Grail or any of the allusions, which pervade the proper assignments, and in their own way, compliment the lectionary readings, what need is there of “fabricating” a “Blue Mass?”
    I know you pay attention to the conjunction (or not) of propers to readings, but the notion of infusing intent of “the blues” via homily and the UP seems almost an abuse against not only the rubrics, but the universality of the rite among ALL the faithful in the moments of the rite. I hope you’re hearing me.

    • Todd says:

      Loud and clear, my friend. I saw your comment there.

      I do think there is a possibility for a votive Mass in this regard, and the Roman Rite is wise enough to afford us flexibility in that regard. It also gives propers for these.

      If I were in a community that had a strong tradition of doing one during Advent, I would be inclined to work with it. Perhaps using “Advent-appropriate” choices for readings, propers, or other music. There is some good overlap between it and the Mass for the Dead.

      Ministry-wise, I would see November as a better placement for a community observance, giving the pastoral ministers and visitors an opportunity for home visits and support groups in December. That is where I see more good to be done–not just in public liturgy. And if we want to take inspiration from the liturgy, consider that Mary, herself pregnant, took it upon herself to support an older relative and reach out in care–an excellent example of the sort of service a believer renders in this busy and emotional season.

      I’ve struggled for years to keep the general intercessions “general.” I had a well-meaning request after Saturday Mass started this weekend to add a prayer for AIDS awareness Day.

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    I think “blue Christmas” is called Hanukkah.

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