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How do we Celebrate Christmas?
How do we Celebrate Christmas?
I find it hard to believe that we will be celebrating Christmas Masses again in just a few days time. It does not seem to be twelve months since last Christmas, although I am sure many children would strongly disagree with me!
What can we, as individuals and as communities, do to make Christmas Masses something special and not just ‘same old, same old’? Here are a few suggestions:
· Lend a hand. Those who prepare liturgical celebrations in parishes have a lot of additional work to do leading up to important celebrations like Christmas. Perhaps you could offer to help decorate or tidy the church, collate worship booklets or get music folders ready for the choir.
· Arrive early. There are plenty of things to be organised before Mass starts, especially with the extra crowds that attend at Christmas time. The regular ushers and hospitality people would welcome assistance with opening windows and turning on fans, giving out hymn books and newsletters, and all the other jobs that need doing.
· Be hospitable. Extend a welcome to everyone you encounter at Mass, not just those people you know. Make visitors feel at home by making sure they have worship aids and by not glaring if they choose to sit in ‘your’ seat or if their children make a noise during Mass.
· Sit near the front of the church so that back pews are left free for latecomers. Don’t occupy the end of an otherwise empty pew so that people have to climb over you to get a seat.
· Participate enthusiastically. The Second Vatican Council reminded us that liturgy is the work of whole Church, the Head and members. Model “full, conscious and active participation” by taking part enthusiastically in the entire celebration. Listen attentively, join in the responses and singing, share the sign of peace with feeling, engage with the symbols, sounds, smells and tastes of the celebration. We should pray our parts of the Mass as though every prayer depended upon our words.
· Show gratitude. Christmas is the time for giving thanks to God for the gift of his Son. That sense of goodwill should be extended to others, including the people who have assisted with preparing and celebrating liturgy in our communities during the year. A word of thanks to preachers, presiders, musicians, sacristans, greeters and other liturgical ministers will be greatly appreciated.
· Spread Christmas cheer. Our celebration of Mass continues as we live out our mission as the body of Christ in our homes, communities and workplaces.
Every parishioner at Christmas Masses can seize this once-a-year chance to evangelise simply through their joyful celebration of Christmas.
“God sent his angels to shepherds,
to herald the great joy of our Saviour’s birth. May he fill you with joy
and make you heralds of his gospel.” (Solemn Blessing ofChristmas)
A blessed and peaceful Christmas to you all and my heartfelt thanks to all who offered me encouragement and support during 2007.