Saturday, December 27, 2014

From that most gracious hand

‘Tis the weekend after Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, except for the Blessed Mother’s pen, scratching out thank-you notes.  Being conceived without sin means never putting them off until things calm down.
Of course all the shepherds get personal notes, and because she is who she is, she probably has a kind word and a treat for the ox and ass, and all the creatures of the stall.  There is even a special something in store for the little drummer boy.  This way, she will not be flustered next weekend, when those unexpected guests arrive bearing gifts, so there is no danger the tags will get lost in the giftwrap, or that she might confuse which king brings gold, and which brings myrrh.
While I dedicate the central effort of my day to giving thanks to God in the Mass, never was the marvel of the Immaculate Conception more clearly distant from my own circumstance than when it comes to the basic work of thanking everybody else.  Faced with the outpouring of grace and glory that is Christmas here, I am grateful for the many generosities and gifts that were offered to God, and to all of us, including me.
First of all, let be noted the amount of hump-busting on the part of the parish staff in the ramp-up to Christmas.  By the time the singing starts, they are all with their families, but a lot of their precious December effort and energy is spent on making this place ready to welcome a newborn King – and all of us who adore him.
Speaking of singing, I would like to thank our singers and musicians without whom it wouldn’t sound like Christmas.  John Henderson, our new music director, showed confidence that it would all come together splendidly, and so it did.   I would like to offer a special shout-out to the kids of our fledgling youth choir.  Speaking of the younger folks, I am never less than bursting with pride in our servers, and the dedication and reverence they contribute to our worship – even in the middle of the night! 
Our church decorators, led by Elaine Vining, Kelly Weisgerber, and Margaret McDermott, had a number of younger helpers, too, many from our Religious Education program.  Many hands make light work and all that, but still: since we do not decorate until it is actually Christmas Eve, they gave a large chunk of that precious day to effect the marvelous and near-instantaneous transfiguration of our church for the celebrations. 
Ushers, lectors, and the dedicated souls who clean and polish the church all take time from their own families to make our corporate worship more complete.  I can’t leave out the Holy Name guys and their helpers who put together the outdoor crèche – and the gentle souls who lovingly restore our ancient, crumbling Nativity figures.  And all your gifts need to be tracked properly, so let’s hear it for our dedicated and only occasionally rowdy counting crew!
Reflecting as we do this weekend on the Holy Family makes me keenly aware of what I have in common with Saint Joseph.  Think about it; living as he did with God incarnate and His Immaculate Mother, whenever anything went wrong around the house, it was pretty clear whose fault it was.  It’s the same around here, but for me.
Every Christmas, every Mass, I see your faces, and hear your voices, and bask in your joy.  I am deeply grateful for you, your presence, your fidelity, your generosity, and your support.  So if anyone, or anything, got left out, not only of this column, but of the opportunity for grace that is the divine life of this parish, that would be my fault.  With my characteristically late and insufficient apologies for the oversight, I promise that I will immediately and without procrastination take the one and only action that has a chance of bearing you the good fruit you deserve: I will ask our Blessed Mother to look after you with a particular grace and gift.  I have no doubt she will quickly come to your aid, because she has already long since finished her own correspondence.

Monsignor Smith

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