Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas and the Feast of the Holy Family

A few weeks back my parish was greeted with the news that our pastor is being transferred to another parish as of Feb. 2nd. Considering that when the 6 year mark came up and Fr. George heard nothing we all assumed, including Fr. George, that we would have him for another 6 years. Alas the good Bishop said move and Fr. George as he has throughout his priesthood said, yes. We're losing a great pastor and priest, but as he says one never truly leaves as we'll be in his prayers and he hopes we continue to pray for him.

Anyway, this news added a certain twist to Christmas this year. For me Christmas just didn't seem like Christmas, I wasn't into it as I normally would. Granted getting sick with a stomach bug on the 23rd didn't help matters. As a result my mom didn't have her actual presents just some silly gifts as I call them, usable gifts, but not her actual gifts. I don't know it just didn't seem like Christmas.

Typical of myself I sign up to serve at Extraordinary Minister at the 4:15pm Mass, our overflow Mass for the 4pm in the actual Church and as EM at the 10:30 for the Choir. Fr. Brian likes to call the 4:15 the "no room at the inn Mass." I had a feeling that since this would be the last time Fr. George would be able to say the "gym Mass" that he would have be saying it. I got to hear his homily twice as my family goes to our "Midnight Mass" at 10:30pm, and as pastor, Fr. George had main celebrant rights. One of these days I'll get back to an actual Midnight Mass at midnight.

Fr. George's homily had a visual aid this year, a signing statue of the Grinch from Dr. Suess' How the Grinch stole Christmas. The homily started out with Fr. George telling us about his 7th grade CCD class and him trying to think of a way to do something special for Christmas, so they watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas, his favorite Movie and out came the Grinch who is a special one, he happens to dance to "You're a mean one Mr. Grinch." Now that Fr. George had everyone's attention he got into the meat and potatoes of his homily. He spoke of the different "grinches" we have in life, with the 3 main ones being greed, violence, and secularism. Each grinch had a person in the Nativity scene to look up to and try to change, as we're called to bring the Grinch to Christ. The first was to bring the Grinch of greed to Mary, as our Blessed Mother gave all that she could, especially with her yes to be God's mother. The next was the Grinch of Violence was to look to St. Joseph has he wanted no violence against Mary when she was found with child. The Grinch of Secularism was to be shown the shepherds and 3 Kings as these men gave what they could to God and brought Him to others.

Fr. George spoke about having sorrows in our lives and that they might not make Christmas happy, but that Christ is the light in the darkness. Overall it was a good homily and he spoke slightly longer at the "Midnight" Mass than at the 4:15 but over all the basic idea was that we are to bring the Grinch and others to Christ. That the Christ-child came for us and that we are to bring Him to others with our actions and lives.

So that was Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family was an exciting day at the parish. As I was getting ready to go to Mass my mom calmly mentions that "Mass is in the gym." WHAT WHY? was my reaction, seeing as I only do "gym Masses" for the High Holy days of Christmas and Easter, I don't like not being in the actual Church. I got the short version of the story from my mom...

"Fr. Brian heard a pop while saying the Gospel" and then someone said fire, so Masses were moved to the gym. You'll probably get the story over there." I said ok, I'll probably will. So the story as told by Fr. George during his homily that Sunday was this...

As is Fr. George's custom he was in the church to greet the people going to the 7am Mass, he and Fr. Brian noticed that the bells weren't working so Fr. George said, I know how to fix this, I'll just reboot the system. Fr. George rebooted the system and said, oh good no more problems today. 10 minutes later as he was sitting in his office in the rectory he hears and sees Fr. Brian running through the rectory saying, I think he might have been shouting, "George there's a fire in the church." Now, the image of Fr. Brian in full vestments sprinting into the rectory is amusing and a few of smiled, but Fr. George added to it by saying that one of the parishioners swears they saw Fr. Brian hop the altar. So now I have an image of Fr. Brian in essence high jumping the altar in full vestments, I must say I did a good job of controlling my laughter, as it was a serious situation that we were talking about. What is believed to have happened is that while Fr. Brian was holding the Book of the Gospels he hear a pop from behind him and a few seconds later someone said "fire." We believe the pop was either the light on top of the manger exploding or something going wrong with the electrical wires on the Christmas trees.

Thankfully no one was hurt, Fr. Brian and a few of the parishioners (who happen to be firefighters) got the fire under control and some of the people at Mass thought to take the hand crafted Italian (read expensive) statues that make up the Nativity scene with them as they left. There was a fair bit of smoke damage done to the Church, she needs a paint job, but amazingly so that's all that got damaged, well and a Christmas tree, and the lamb statues each lost an ear but they were fixed and are now back in the Church.

Back about 12 years ago the church building was restored, well renovated and I remember Fr. Geno telling us that if "God forbid the church was to catch on fire it would be gone in a few minutes." I believe that was because of the "paint" that was used, as there was paper or something in it, anyway it's truly amazing that the church building only sustained smoke damage, it just looks dirty.

As was pointed out during Fr. George's homily the parish family came together quickly to help out and to adjust to what was happening that weekend. If the fire happened at any other time who knows what would have happened. The other Masses are usually packed, the 7am is our "no smells no bells" Mass, meaning it's the Mass without music on the weekend, so you never know what would have happened. As Fr. George said thank God it happened while someone was in the Church and thank God no one got hurt and that we have very little damage done to the Church.

Fr. George in his homily on the Feast of the Holy Family spoke of how we are family in many way, we have the human family that comes together when it needs to, with such examples of Sept. 11th and Hurricane Katrina and other such natural disasters, a parish family that came together in many ways this past year with our Jubilee celebration and with the fire, and of course we have our immediate families. In the shortest homily I have ever heard or seen Fr. George give, he got the message of yes we have our own families to care for, but there is much more to a family than that, we are a family as Children of God and we are called to care for each other.

Fr. George ended his homily by returning to his seat and telling us to mark our calendars as this was his shortest homily given.

This link shows the Beacon's story on us, the color pictures are better than the black and white ones. I didn't take any pictures of the Christmas altar this year, I will take some on Sunday when I am there and post them, but I think I might have one from last year if not I know I have the manger scene.


Mark said...

Hi Mary, I hope you have a great 2009. I hope you get a good replacement for Fr George, too. You must be relieved there wasn't much damage as a result of the fire.

Mark said...

I know this is off topic, but I thought it would interest you.

A strongly pro-life Catholic politician in England is organizing a large-scale Rosary Novena to try to stop the utterly appalling FOCA legislation in the US. The information is available here:

Lord Alton is asking everyone to pass the information about the Novena on to five other people, and, as I know you feel very strongly about abortion and the FOCA legislation, you were one of the first people I thought of.