As a child, I fell in love with Midnight Mass. I fell in love with celebrating the miracle of Christ's Nativity in the best way possible. Last night, I fell in love all over again.
We arrived at our parish around 10:45. Prior to Mass, I said my usual prayers, but I added, "Dear God, please let me remain in the church. Mary, please comfort my little children and help them to sleep." Shortly before the Lessons and Carols began, Patrick lay down on one side and Finnian lay down on the other side of me. Elizabeth fussed as the First Lesson began and I repeated my prayer. She started to nurse and soon fell asleep. I sat silently listening to the Lessons and Carols, thankful for the silence around me. After the last lesson, the Infant Jesus was placed in the manger and the faithful joined the choir in singing my favorite hymn, Silent Night. As we sang, tears started to stream down my cheeks. My eldest son asked, "Why are you crying?" I could not respond. I saw Bernadette wiping her eyes and I realized that she understood.
The Lessons and Carols were followed by a Mass in which I could fully assist. Theresa eventually crawled under the pew, put her head on a coat, and fell asleep. I continued to follow along, respond, and listen. The homily was awe-inspiring, focusing everyone's attention on the Christ Child. Elizabeth continued to sleep as I received Communion. I returned to the pew and knelt in silence, thanking God for the blessings that he has bestowed on us. After Mass, I knelt again and said a few prayers before putting coats on the children. We made a little stop to see the Baby Jesus in the manger and then we headed to the van. As we drove home, a little after 2:00 a.m., I couldn't help but think that the Traditional Latin Rite Midnight Mass is truly one of the most beautiful things this side of Heaven.
Thank you, God, for blessing my family and me with the best possible Christmas gift, celebrating the birth of Your Divine Son at Midnight Mass.