When I was a kid, I loved Christmas on Sundays. What I hated were the years before and after the Sunday Christmas.
My problem was I didn’t want to go to Mass two days in a row.
To give some background, I grew up in a Catholic home. Very Catholic. My dad went to Epiphany. My mom’s Catholic, and her dad converted very late in life. Two of my dad’s cousins were Monsignors. Our most treasured piece of art was a Mother of Perpetual Help painting by my aunt Mame. Before every meal we said, in unison:
Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Despite all this great Catholic upbringing, daily Mass—even two days out of seven—seemed like punishment.
In this, I believe, I was the perfect American male.
True or not, our cultural image of the Wild West involves lawless, wild men tamed by Bible-beating women. Not that American men are bad by nature, but left to our own devices, we’ll build a saloon and a house for women who go well with whiskey before we build a church and recruit a preacher.
But when the women folk show up, preacher in tow, we heel. And we heal.
In our wildness, we wound ourselves and others. Perhaps not physically, but wounds we open.
Years later, we appreciate the civilizing effect of church.
At 48, I no longer dread Mass. I look forward to Midnight Mass this year, and I’ll try to talk the family into making the trek to St. Francis de Sales for its heavenly Midnight Mass.
Though I’m no better a person now than I was when two Masses in one week tortured me, I’ve come to understand that God’s inconveniences are not obstacles but express ways: the pain perfects us.
This year, Christmas is on a Sunday. I’m not sure how I feel about that.