Saturday, December 25, 2010
Venite Adoremus Dominum
Mom went to bed at 7 last night, I guess worn out from her late night the evening before, so I had time to nap before midnight mass. On the way I stopped at a gas station for coffee, the McDonald’s was closed on Christmas Eve (?!!). Inside, the cashier was slowing punching a page-long list of lottery numbers for a customer. The most important thing he could be doing was buying lottery tickets this important eve? I steered my mind quickly away, and tossed a twenty towards the register --- “Merry Christmas.” Someone behind me said “I wouldn’t be that generous.” I responded something, but thought: “Why not?”
I went to the back of the church and began reading my Night Prayers, as the choir sang out Christmas hymns and carols. As the church began to fill, people around me were excusing their way in, and out again, and the perfume of the woman in front of me drifted strongly my way. I packed up my things and walked to the chairs on the other side of the building, which had been set up for the crowded earlier mass. No one was there now. So I read and said my prayers in peace and quiet. This night, that seemed especially fitting.
I don’t know what someone looking at me might have thought. Some lonely old man? A recluse? Or someone who doesn’t know that this mass is to be a community prayer? What I felt was peace from the noise and smells (my epilepsy still reacts to those things some times), and a quiet for me and Jesus to talk. Yes, I know the mass is a community prayer, but as I’ve gotten older that seems less important, and it is more important as a time for me and God to commune, personally. Maybe it’s because I’m considering that I’ll be meeting Him face-to-face in some nearer day, and so I want to get to know Him better. But I think it’s more that He wants to get to know me better. It seems like He makes me aware of His presence so much more often and easily than in my younger days. It’s said that with age comes wisdom, a natural thing in human beings. Perhaps. But I think that with age is GIVEN Wisdom, a great blessing to know and love and serve God better. And I think this pleases Him. And so it pleases me.
Shortly before midnight the cell phone in my pocked buzzed. The text from a close and understanding friend said: “Merry Christmas Eve! WLY!” I quickly responded, “Ditto.”
The mass and homily were very well done, including the choir praise. People attending wore suits and what looked like gym clothes. I’m not sure who of them were regular attendees, and who were once a year attendees, or less. It matters not; they were there. And as mass ended, we all filed out and shook the hands of all the priests and seminarians present. It was a very good night for me.
On the way back to mom’s, I drove through the town center and just had to stop. I got out of the car and stood in front of the manger scene in the park. I looked closely at the figures and their arrangement. And I said a prayer. No, I was not praying to the statues, I was praying to my God. I know that I had just received Him in communion, a most precious and personal thing, yet I had to stop here and pray again. I prayed for our town, and all the blessings bestowed upon it --- including the manger scene in front of me. It is a blessing to have a town which celebrates Christmas, not in fear of what a very few others might say, or fear of offending some stray person, but in pride of recognizing how blessed it is, and from whence those blessings come. And the town celebrates. And so did I.
I have so many blessings to be thankful for. Glory be to God, now and forever!
Happy birthday, Jesus.
It’s A Wonderful Life is on --- again. I think I’ll watch it for a while.