“Christmas is Christ’s Mass, and derives its name from the fact that at midnight of that festival the churches throughout the Catholic world were ablaze with lights and packed with congregations thrilled by the wondrous solemnity of Solemn High Mass in all its grandeur.” Photo by Z I on Unsplash

Editorial: A Christmas wish

By 
  • December 17, 2020

This is not the Christmas we envisioned for ourselves or our children. There’s no getting away from that, no matter how hard we try.

There’s an old saying that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. For many during this year of the pandemic, it’s been that way with the Mass. Closed churches or restricted access to the sacraments meant that something we had taken for granted was suddenly taken from our grasp, out of our control.

If there’s a time of year when we most feel the spiritual strength of that most central celebration of our faith, it is Christmas. Where else do we feel the same exhilaration at hearing the Gospel proclaim the “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Where else do we feel that uplifting sense of goodwill, surrounded by our fellow parishioners on that most joyous of occasions?

In rummaging through The Catholic Register’s editorials of Christmas past, there is a certain sense of irony that we fell upon one written exactly 100 years ago, in 1920. Likely penned by the then-editor Msgr. Thomas O’Donnell, it was simply titled “Christmas.”

“How many millions of those whose letters, advertisements, mottos and home have this word emblazoned on them, do not in the least realize its meaning?” the editorial began. “Christmas is Christ’s Mass, and derives its name from the fact that at midnight of that festival the churches throughout the Catholic world were ablaze with lights and packed with congregations thrilled by the wondrous solemnity of Solemn High Mass in all its grandeur.”

The editorial goes on to ask: “Whilst the materialism of our time has somewhat chilled the glowing fervour of the faith of those far-off ages, is it not true that today the light and joy of Christmas, its tenderest, holiest, most enrapturing inspirations, radiate from the Mass?”

At the heart of the editorial rings a message we cannot dispute: “It is the Mass that gives its world-gladdening thrill to the message: This day is born to you a Saviour — not this day 19 centuries ago. But this very day and every day there is born to you a Saviour where the cross tips the village spire and the windows glow in the early morning — born miraculously, but as really and truly on the altar as in the stable at Bethlehem.”

In this most unusual of years, let us remember that Christmas also lives in our hearts, in the faces of our families and loved ones, in the hope and pure joy that springs from the birth of the Christ child.

There are many prayers we have this Christmas, most especially for all those who have been directly impacted by this pandemic, for the workers on the frontlines who have been a shield and a comfort, and for the most vulnerable among us who need our prayers and charity.

Our wish for all is that the joyful light of the season will burn as bright as it ever has … and that, next Christmas, everyone will once again have the opportunity to share that joy at Mass.

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