Putting the Mass back into Christmas

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Not long to Christmas, can’t wait. For most it is the idea of buying gifts and preparing the food for the Christmas feast. For others it’s the idea of spending time with loved ones that makes this season so great. For me it’s a combination of them both which is in the form of the Mass. And there is nothing better than hearing the nun’s down LLantarnam Abbey belting our Hark the herald angel sing as mass is finishing on Christmas eve.

Preparing for the feast is similar to the Christmas meal, you need to prepare the vegetables and cook the meats at the right temperature. Spiritually you must prepare for Christmas that is what the season of advent is for. To prepare, is to spend time in prayer and to be ready to receive the coming of Christ again at Christmas. This is before the mass.

To spend time with loved ones is again like the mass. Pope Francis said in February “The liturgy is God’s time and space, and we must put ourselves there in God’s time, in God’s space, without looking at our watches. The liturgy is precisely entering into the mystery of God; bringing ourselves to the mystery and being present in the mystery.” In the mass we heard God’s word and eat God’s word incarnate. But we must also do what Jesus asked his apostles and his whole church, “Could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come to the time of trial.” (Matthew 26:40-41). The mass usually lasts one hour, and so fulfils our duty to Christ to stay attentive for just one hour.

Thirdly we must present our Gifts to God this Christmas. We could all put a few more pence into the collection bag or buy Fr Neil a nice bottle of wine as a present. But when Christina Rossetti wrote in her hymn “In the Bleak mid-winter”, she captures perfectly what we should be giving at Christmas, “What can I give him, poor as I am?  If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; yet what can I give him:  give my heart.” This is what we do at mass, when we offer ourselves to the altar and place our burdens and sins onto Christ who bears them at Calvary.

Everyone knows the popular phrase of, let’s put Christ back into Christmas. But I feel as Catholics we should do more, bring the mass back into Christmas. For if we do this we are certain to fulfil the first statement, because Jesus is the main focal point of each mass.

As Advent drew to a close in 2013, Pope Francis asked Catholics to imagine themselves as Mary. During Advent’s final week, “the church is like Mary: She is awaiting a birth,” Pope Francis said. Like Mary, believers should say of Jesus and mean with all their hearts: “Come! I want to see your face.” What other way can we do this? None other than coming to Mass this Christmas.

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