The tiny white church stood alone on the country road. Catholics in the area, farmers mostly, would gather each Sunday for the 9:00 a.m. mass. They would wear their “Sunday-go-meetin” clothes and eagerly await the Franciscan priest’s words of comfort, joy, or forgiveness. When I say tiny church, there was enough room for maybe 30 people at one time, including the smaller space needed for the average of six kids per farmer that would show up for their weekly dose of goodness.
I remember one Christmas morning after a particularly heavy snowfall that the only people in attendance were Father Mike, me as the altar boy, and one farmer. No wife, no kids…just a God-fearing man in his best bib overalls. I was eight years old and lived only a couple of hundred yards from the church. Walking through waist high snow to serve mass, which was one of my favorite things to do, was no big deal. The year was 1957 and women had to have their heads covered at church, whether with a hat or a scarf. These were times when it felt holy to hear the service, and to respond to the priest, in Latin.
Father Mike said to the farmer, “Well, I guess there is no point to have a service today.”
“Why do you say that, Father?”
“Well, it’s just you, so…”
“I don’t see it that way, Father. If only one cow turns up at feeding time, I still feed it.”
And so there was a Christmas mass on that cold and snowy day. But something bigger than a “mass for one” happened that day for me. I learned the lesson that one cow, one farmer, or one boy should be fed when they come to the table for nourishment. Sometimes, nourishment comes from actually eating a meal, while the feeding of a soul is just as important.
Christmas gets so commercialized that the word itself has lost its meaning to so many. The man, Christ, was born on that day in a manger so many years ago. His very birth was like the planting of a garden of hope for all of humanity that can still be feasted upon today…2015 years later.
I once read of a play put on by an elementary school, and a six year old boy who was playing the part of the inn keeper let his own heart be known to the audience during his small, one line role. When Joseph came to his desk and asked if there was room at the inn, the audience could not stop laughing when the inn keeper responded, “Yes sir, how will you be paying for your stay?”
Eventually decorum returned, the play went on, and when it was over, the little boy was asked why he changed the line from the bible story of the birth of Christ. His reply is a lesson we could all use at this time of year. He said, “I just could not turn Joseph and Mary away.”
There is nothing wrong with decorating with lights and tinsel, sharing wonderful meals with delicious pies and Christmas sugar cookies, and exchanging gifts. It is a season of good will to all men and women and tidings of comfort and joy abound. The question that needs to be asked by each of us is a simple one; simple yet telling of where our faith really lies. If you were asked, ‘Is there room at the inn?’, would you invite Jesus into your heart? That is Christmas in a nutshell. Is there room in our lives for Christ, or do we put a big X over the real reason for December 25th to be marked on our calendars as a favorite holiday when we allow X-mas to be part of our lexicon?
The staff of Calumet Park Cemetery, Calumet Park Funeral Chapel, and Rendina Funeral Home wish for a happy and healthy Christmas to all of the readers of this message. May the grace of God protect you from the craziness of this world in which we live.
What Does The Christmas Angel Look Like?
- Angels come in all shapes and sizes; all ages and skin types.
- For example, the little old lady who returned your purse last week when you left it on the bus.
- They come disguised as teachers, students, doctors and nurses.
- Remember the small child who showed you the wonder in simple things…could it be angels melting your heart?
- Remember the stranger who just happened to come along when you had lost your way?
- Think back to the friend who touched your heart when you did not think you had one?
- Some cherubs have freckles, some have dimples, and some have wrinkles. They are hard to find when your eyes are closed, but when you choose to see, angels are everywhere you look.
- Remember Clarence from “It’s a Wonderful Life”? It is even possible that you are a saving angel to someone in their time of need. Love like an angel and be someone’s Christmas Angel.