Monday, December 28, 2009


This second Christmas at Saint Sebastian was quite a treat. After a year and half the parish and I seem to be getting used to each other. It also helped having a parochial vicar to help carry the load. It is one thing to have a priest come in to take a Mass, it is quite another to have one help you with all of the preparations too! So ready were we that I had time to do things that usually get thrown off the list for want of time – even to shining my shoes.

The confessions the night before went about an hour longer than we had anticipated. Even with three priests it took us that long to provide the sacrament for everybody. Christmas Eve started with morning Mass – one of the few in the area. Fr. Pfeiffer was the celebrant but I was up and wired already and so I concelebrated. There was a surprising turn out for this too.

The rest of the day was spent preparing the church, having rehearsals, and making last minute tweaks on homilies. By three o’clock there was already a respectable crowd for the 4 o’clock Mass. Behind the scenes we began preparing for the Mass: organizing ministers, getting all of the vessels and books ready, making sure seating was provided in the sanctuary, coordinating vestments, setting out the homily, making last minute notes to servers, finally saying a prayer and heading to the back of the church for the procession. At that point it is just time to trust that everyone has their roles down and everything will be taken care of since you have little control over anything at that point anyway.

At the back of the church the procession is organized and incense is placed in the thurible and blessed. The deacon with an atomic wristwatch signals the organist that it is exactly and precisely 4:00! The announcement of the opening hymn is made and we process down the aisle.

This will happen two more times that night alone. There is a short break after this Mass and the whole process starts over again. After that Mass there is time to eat dinner, take a break, and try to relax. But soon enough it is time to rouse oneself up again for the midnight hour quickly approaches. Midnight Mass is the crowning jewel of our Christmas celebrations of which Cecil B. DeMill would have been proud.

When it is all done and the lingerers left and the church was darkened we wandered through the church by the light of the Christmas trees locking doors and putting hymnals and kneelers in their upright and locked position. Back in the rectory we try to relax and recount the pageantry and praise of the day. Then it was time to go to bed. The rest of the morning Masses were starting in a few hours.

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