Dear Companions on the Journey,
For many “cradle Catholics,” Christmas exerts a powerful nostalgic pull. Vivid memories of walking to the parish church for Midnight mass tug at their religious and sentimental heartstrings.
A new phenomenon has emerged over the last few decades. That is, middle-age and older Catholics going to Christmas Mass with hearts heavy that their Millennial or Gen-X children choose not to accompany them. Or, out of loving care for parents, some who ordinarily do not go to Church accompany them on Christmas. How loving and generous!
What to do during these last Advent Days before Christmas? Of course, in prayerful discernment, this might just be the right time to invite friends and family to join you for Christmas Mass. Something like “Our family is planning on attending the 5pm Christmas Eve mass at the Paulist Center. Would you and your family like to join us?” Maybe you might – especially – invite your divorced or gay/Lesbian family and friends to join you: we want to welcome them! Some may mistakenly think they are not welcome. I say, they are especially welcome here! We are blessed by their presence.
Or, if you are a regular community member at the Paulist Center, Christmas is your “moment to shine”! That is, by becoming an ambassador of joy and welcome on that night or day when you might (gasp!) sit towards the center of the pew (if “your place” is ordinarily at the end)…or when you see someone new come in, you smile at them and say “Merry Christmas! I’m a regular here and I’m delighted to welcome you this evening!”
What an incredible Advent/Christmas Concert we had! I speak for our whole community when I say “Thank you so much” to Peter Ghiloni and the Paulist Center singers and musicians! During the spoken parts of the concert, Peter drew heavily from one of my favorites, Howard Thurman:
I will light candles this Christmas…
Candles of joy, despite all sadness.
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch.
Candles of courage for fears ever present.
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days.
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens.
Candles of love to inspire all my living.
Candles that will burn all the yearlong.
What do you think?
And let us pray for/with one another.
Michael McGarry, C.S.P.