Saturday, December 20, 2014

Grand Traditions

'Twas the weekend before Christmas, and everybody was calm... right?

Of course, that's decidedly not the case for most of us, whatwith the rush of the last-minute shopping, planning, cooking, decorating, gatherings, travel and all the rest. Among our crowd, it's especially true for two groups in particular – parents of young kids and our ministry teams, each and all pulling out all the stops to make it beautiful for everybody else.

So especially for these, but wherever it's needed, folks, take a minute right now and breathe – see, even if it's for a fleeting few moments, the peace and light of these days belong to you, too, even if giving it permission to break in is usually easier said than done.

In one way or another, we all go a little crazy around this point. That's not a bad thing in itself – for starters, it's the price of being human... most of all, though, it's done in the hope that others might feel The Gift in ways they otherwise wouldn't. Still, all the zipping around and mounting bills can only get us so far. As Advent's last lap begins, then, it just feels useful to pass along the words that, amid another round of all the hubbub, suddenly started echoing in this scribe's head the other day....

"Just make it count."

Sure, what that'll take has a different meaning for each of us... and for at least a few (this guy included), it might take some figuring out. Either way, with five days to go – and on the day that, so they say, is now the most frenzied of the cycle – it just seems like a good way to enter into the week.

* * *
With an eye to keeping things light – at least, for now – it's hard to believe that we're only three weeks out from mid-January's PopeTrip to the Philippines: a journey that, between the near-certainty of world-record crowds and the visitor's drive to delve into the areas still digging out from last year's Typhoon Yolanda, promises to quickly become one of the most intense and visually powerful moments of the Francis Era.

In the meantime, the Filipinos' famously intense piety – and its burgeoning presence in the Stateside church – always plays a sizable role in these days in the observance of the Simbang Gabi, the pre-dawn "Doorbuster Mass" over the nine days before Christmas, the turnouts for which across the islands make these shores' Black Friday crowds look paltry by comparison.

Indeed, the custom has been heavily integrated into parish and diocesan life in the US (the shot above comes from the annual launch in Seattle) even taking on new life in the embrace of non-Pinoys. Back in the Philippines, however, the novena provided the basis for the one time you'll ever see Mass as a McDonald's ad.

No joke:

To everyone hitting the road over these days, safe travels and have a blast. And wherever we are or find ourselves doing through it, may we not forget those who seek this Coming most: the sick, the suffering, the poor and lonely... "the people who walk in darkness" and most deserve the Light.

Merry Christmas, Church.... "Make it count."