By Julia Prentice
I am choosing the Mass in Christmas.
That beloved, revered and reviled holiday celebrated by Christians and non-believers. Celebrated as holy or profane, sacred or secular, it rests on the laurels of Yule, Advent, Solstice and the holy days of many from long ago. Derived from a belief that a man, a son of a God, could die and become resurrected. A recognition of the greatness of that man and gratitude towards a God that would take him away and then give him back again.
While I do not personally believe in that resurrection, I do recognize the importance of it in humanity’s history. I give space to those who worship that man as the son of God and believe in the holy Trinity. That the specialness of his earthly parents, his birth and subsequent events must have a seed of truth.
Whatever that truth is, it spreads goodness toward others. It brings light during the darkest times of the year.
With candle, flaming log and festive greens Christmas combines man’s connection with nature, the warmth and comfort of fire and forms beacons of hope and love. We love the sparkle, the twinkle of the season. Special ornaments brought out lovingly from storage adorn our homes. Singing carols, telling stories and taking stock of the past year, these are all good rituals to practice.
As a child, the wonderment of a tree, decorated with love, and a massive pile of presents under that tree was what made Christmas special. Though not brought up particularly religious, I felt the spiritual connection to others through special music, family gatherings and baking cookies with my mother, to give to others. As I grew too old to believe in Santa Claus, my parents initiated me into keeping the secret of Christmas alive for my younger sisters. Playing Santa Claus myself shifted the focus onto giving towards others. This was a gift that I repeated with my own children as they too “became Santa” and understood the meaning for themselves.
Today, rather than worship a special man, we worship dollars, consumerism and the mass media message of the holy day into “holiday.” A time to enjoy family, friends, the spiritual and divine crammed into a tiny box gilt (or guilt) with wrapping paper, bows and tags. We have shrunk down the massive into the mundane, the gift of God into the gift of…well going crazy to find “the perfect” object to give. If we find it, we are elevated from the profane to sacred ourselves, saintly giver so successful in granting the wishes of another; and for what: self-aggrandizing and a attaining a certain smugness that we have actually attained godliness with our giving.
Better is the gift of ourselves, our labor, our love, our gratitude and donation of our “time, talent and treasure” to help others.
To worship goodness, to help and to lift up others, to connect with God. That is the nature of the Mass I would attend during the end of the year. That is the worship I am drawn to. If we put the “mass” back into Christmas, we could all celebrate feelings of good will towards ourselves, towards others and towards the Earth we call home. A hauntingly beautiful Mass sung for the masses. Following yonder star, we could tremble in wonder at our own greatness, and hold gratitude for what we have, what we have been given and what we give to others.
Julia W. Prentice is a deeply feeling Cancer. She has been writing since her teenage years, is the mother of three sons, has successful careers in teaching children, interpretation in sign language and assisting persons with mental health challenges to find their own paths to recovery, through sharing her own journey. Living with her love and partner of over forty years has brought contentment and much fulfillment. She writes like she breathes: incessantly, some in ragged gasps, some in whispering sighs, some in mighty shouts. Always she is driven to write. Recently after taking a women’s online writing course she has heard the universe telling her to share her writings.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak