Monday, December 29, 2008

I'll give you just one guess as to why today's post is late - again. Today was booked to be a catch up day for everything that was put on the back burner over Christmas and of course very little of it was accomplished. The Internet is down again and we do not know why, but when it is down we cannot even so much as use the copy machine which pushes the bulletin completely off schedule and puts us into panic mode. So once again, no Emails are getting through. Then we had the emergency of a lady in a power scooter stopping by who without a coat and having no idea where she was or where she came from. That resolved itself nicely when one of our ever competent office staff was able to coax the name of her residence out of here - no small distance away. So, now I escape to the coffee house - the only place that I can get work done! So here is a post written yesterday just now being published.

Gather around friends and I shall tell you about my first Christmas at Saint Sebastian – or at least my favorite moment from it. Christmas day was a flury of practices and preparations. The four o’clock Children’s Mass, which everyone kept saying was going to be as out of control as the final 30 seconds of a Super Bowl game, went on smoothly enough. Seven o’clock Mass passed and we waited to begin Midnight Mass (which I might add was at midnight.) I had every intention of taking a nap but I was too keyed up even to be able to sit still for too long.

Finally the Mass came and it went well. It was well attended despite predictions that nobody would show up. In the end we even had more servers than I knew what to do with (the procession was already as long as the aisle of the church.)

So I sat down after Holy Communion and look back at the clock and see that it is going on 1:00AM. “Good,” thought I, “I will get them out of here by five after.” That was before the choir began a spectacular post communion hymn. Then the congregation joined in Silent Night, and finally there was gorgeous solo in German. I loved it. I could have stayed there for another hour listening (after all I only had a few yards to go to my bed.) But now it was about quarter after and I feared that the congregation would want to bolt for the doors at the very first opportunity and I had promised our talented music director that I would stay in the sanctuary for all the verses of Hark Herald the Angel Sings.

Thus did I do and then we started down the aisle to Handle’s Hallelujah Chorus. As we reached the back (front?) of the church our deacon said, “I’ll go purify” which left me and my cousin who is a deacon and who is up to be ordained to the priesthood this year to greet the people as they leave. So we turned and waited for the onslaught. But nobody left. They all stood and turned back toward the choir and listened – an occasional voice singing out the tenor, bass, alto, or soprano line.

It was the oddest thing. This is defiantly not a Catholic practice. Catholics volunteering to stay longer at Mass – especially when it has already gone 80 minutes!? This needed to be investigated. So I walked back into church and indeed nobody stirred. They just stood and stared. It was like being in a Sci Fi movie.

After the Chorus ended the was still no particular “Day After Thanksgiving Walmart Opening” type rush to get out. I suppose people wanted to give Santa a little extra breathing space to get all his packages out of his pack in case they might have walked in on him and spoiled the holiday.
It is wonderful to have anybody at Mass, but it was particularly touching to see so many college/post college age persons there to greet the new born King at the first hour of the very day on which we celebrate His birth. The whole night was so intoxicating that I could not fall asleep again even though I had to be up in a couple of hours for the later-morning Masses.

But I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

And that is why I love Midnight Mass.


Adoro said...

I have never been to Midnight Mass, have always wanted to go. But family obligations necessitate I attend another. Which is NEVER composed of beautiful music. Wish I could have been at St. Sebastian's.

Father Schnippel said...

Which is why I love Midnight Mass

Amen, Brother!

Anonymous said...

I'll make a note to go to Midnight Mass at St. Seb's next year. I went to "Midnight Mass" at St. Hilary's this year and it was beautiful as always.

On a different note - I was at the 11:00 at St. Sebastians on Sunday and was quite pleased to smell incense when I walked in during the opening song. It's such a breath of fresh air for a traditional girl like me. I talked to friends of the family after mass who are parishioners. We all agreed they are blest to have you as a pastor and administrator. Thanks for all you do for us.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...


The Children's mass was wonderful. By removing the Christmas play from the middle of it, you put the mass back to the focus, which is as it should be. (not sure how the play ever got there in the first place) Your homily quoting the Grinch was awesome. Right on point and it drew in the kids from word one.

I second the comments on incense. I'm an RCIA product and love the traditions of the church.

We're blessed to have you. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

From a member of the Choir, Thank You. We believe that the Holy Spirit inspires us to hopefully inspire others. It takes a lot of time and work but is so worth it!