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TITLE: CHRISTMAS MASS AT ST. JOSEPH'S
By Gabrielle Morgan
01/14/06
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I wrote this as a reflection and haven't targeted an audience as yet.
CHRISTMAS MASS AT ST. JOSEPH’S

The congregation at St. Joseph’s had swelled to capacity on Christmas Day. It was hot and the mid-morning light gleamed through the glass windows at the back of the altar. From my seat in the front pew the red, yellow and pink roses in front of the statues of Jesus and Mary looked stunningly beautiful. I felt immensely proud of my husband as I gazed at the image he had created of Mary and the baby Jesus in the manger. It stood behind a nativity scene which was placed in front of the altar. The colours in his painting, together with the cobalt violet blue and white agapanthus (better known as Star of Jerusalem) in vases each side of it, were in perfect harmony with the colour of the roses. The light intensified the colours and truly transformed the altar area into a new splendour.

“A light will shine on us this day:
the Lord is born for us.” Ps. 96: l

A sense of peace prevailed among the people who seemed to be relaxed and happy after the pre Christmas rush. They waited expectantly for Mass to begin. We were blessed by having a visiting Priest from Rome to celebrate.

Annie, our organist, had not arrived. I was told she was not well and we must proceed without her. With a full church congregation, I realised how much we depended on Annie. She travelled miles by car each Sunday, after already attending Mass at her own Church, to play the organ for us. Now it was up to me to choose a hymn appropriate for Christmas morning, one which everyone might know by heart. So Mass began with “Silent Night” without accompaniment, a cappella style.

A chorus of voices filled the Church. Mass became alive.

The Priest began the Liturgy, and through his homily strengthened the wonder of the gift bestowed on us in the birth of Jesus. In a unity of spirit, people from all walks of life filed up to communion to receive the body of Christ.

At the end of the Mass, without Annie, I searched for inspiration for the final hymn. My eyes upon my husband’s image of the baby, Jesus, in a cradle, led me to announce, “Let us sing - Away in the Manger.”

The congregation responded in full voice, and in that small Church of St. Joseph the true spirit of Christmas was felt. Jesus was manifest in our hearts.

As I left the Church on that Christmas morning, I thought of the special gifts I had received throughout the year by being part of this small community of worshippers at St. Joseph’s.

The gift of Annie, whose strong will in witness of her faith allows her to dedicate herself to our needs, despite the fact that she no longer drives and must find transport. Her generosity of heart and true affection are indeed an image of the spirit of Christ. It is to Annie I feel a debt. Her example is my strength.

The gift of our Parish Priest who, regardless of ill health, continues to travel to St. Joseph’s to bring us the Eucharist. In him, we encounter our Lord.

The gift of friendship, shared joys, struggles and united prayers in faith, all a comfort to the soul.

Along with everyone who attended Mass that morning, I left in peace, with a full heart, and an abundance of blessings to partake of my Christmas feast.
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