You probably do not recall how wretched it was the Saturday before Gaudete Sunday. But I do, because when I reluctantly went out into it, I found about ten of our Holy Name men erecting the manger scene outside the front of our church. This was the day before they hosted Breakfast with Santa, which seemed to me to be very popular with all comers, young and old.
With particular thanks to the abundant gifts and gracious givers of poinsettias for our altar, and wreaths and greenery from our CYO, the flower-moving and church-decorating team did a marvelous job. Anthony Dao and his kids did remarkable work, and we could hardly manage without Margaret McDermott. This was the swan-song of Elaine Vining, who has been masterminding the arrangement for over a decade; she plans to move to South Carolina this year. If you want to have some real fun with beauty, consider volunteering to help in future.
|Santa and his elves worked hard |
to get everyone ready for Christmas at Saint Bernadette
The beauty of the music took me aback. Since we are “between music directors,” our section leaders (Joey & Veronica & Siena & Andrew) have stepped up to plan and prepare, and print programs, and with the help of interim organist and conductor Paul Griffin. I called our approach “family style,” which may be why it made for such a musically perfect Christmas.
The altar servers, especially those who came to Masses different from the ones their families usually might have preferred, were superb. Father Russo has taken the lead as Server Wrangler for us, and they are responding to his attentions. Similarly, our Lectors and Ministers of Holy Communion arranged their holidays around our parish needs and liturgies, to our great benefit.
|Andy Greenleaf's beautifully crafted stable |
provided the perfect setting for everybody gathered around the manger.
Of course, I am grateful to the family of George and Doris O’Brien, whose gift in their memory made possible the arrival of ox and ass, sheep and shepherds for our indoor Nativity Scene. They came from Italy, but the stable scene itself was designed and constructed by our own Andy Greenleaf, most famous for his role of Lector at nine o’clock Sunday Masses, and moved here with the help of some of those same intrepid Holy Name men. Honestly it could not be more marvelous. There are more figures to be had for it (wise men, angel, etc.), if more donors step forward. I want a dog.
There were also the workers who were invisible, such as our counters, who came in on Boxing Day in addition to their usual Monday work. You probably just assume our crowds are preternaturally tidy, because you don’t see the people who clean up the church before and after all these liturgies; and that the priests are similarly diligent, because you don’t see the work of the sacristans. What would make you suspicious is how neatly cleaned and hung by size all the altar server vestments are; you know there must be a mysterious person who swoops in regularly to put them in order – and there is.
Do not be fooled by those announcements about the rectory offices being closed. The staff does not “take it easy” around Christmas and the New Year; nothing could be further from the truth They busted their humps for us but with grace and care like nobody you’ve seen.
Also, I should mention that Father Russo, in his assignment as student with residence here, was not obliged to stay here for the holiday. But he did. He was a great help, good company, and even gave every sign that there was no other place he would rather be for Christmas. I think the lad may have a future!
Because as I have long told you, there is no place but here I would rather be for Christmas or any other holiday. Now that my mom and dad live close enough to come join me, they understand better why that is. This a beautiful place to be in communion with The Newborn King and all who adore Him. It’s a great place to be a priest. And I don’t just say that because of all the cookies and treats and … beverages that found their way to the rectory in recent weeks, though I am grateful for that too. It’s because of the faith and life and service and love and joy manifested in the people here.
Please join me in thanking everybody whose work I noted above, and anybody whose work I inadvertently left out. Altogether, it’s enough to make you fail to remember any wretchedness in the day. Merry Christmas and blessed Epiphany to you!