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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let It Snow!

One of the perks of being a nun, besides being married to Jesus, is that I virtually never have to negotiate what I'm going to do or not going to do on any given holiday. We've worked out who does what and when here at the house. I don't have to worry about who to have dinner with or at whose house I will show up to watch the little darlings look pretty in their Christmas finery and open their gifts. I will be at the midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and the ten o'clock mass on Christmas morning. Here at the house, we have some 'homeless' people coming for dinner. Sister St. Aloysisus is going to make Bavarian Pot Roast, which is actually my mother's recipe. We have to remember to buy a can of beer. It's one of the ingredients. During the afternoon we'll be spending time with some actual homeless people. We'll put Baby Jesus in the manger, the lights will be on.

Other people are not so lucky.

Sister - Since you brought up Christmas rules....how about attending Mass on Christmas? This year we are spending the holidays with my in-laws, who are staunch Lutherans. My husband & I feel it is important to do things as a family, so we attend the Christmas Eve service with Grandma & Grandpa at their Lutheran church. Since this si a huge retirement community, Grandma loves being able to show off her beautiful, well behaved granddaughters in their cute holiday dresses, especially since their local grandchildren are non-church attending white trailer trash. Unfortunately, the Lutheran service is held EXACTLY at the same time as Mass at the only Catholic church in the 3 county area. Every priest I ask gives me a different answer, but does watching Mass on TV with the Pope at midnight count towards our obligation? If not, do the children need to go to confession as well, since they have no means to get to Mass without me?

You have to attend Mass on Christmas. Christmas is a Holy Day of Obligation. It's not a Holy Day of Try to Get There. It's not a Holy Day of Compromise.

It's all very well and good that these people are staunch Lutherans, bless their misguided souls, but it's time for you to step up and be a staunch Catholic.

Is going to church services on Christmas Day a Holy Day of Obligation for the Lutherans? I think not.

Just for a moment, let's pretend that Christmas Day is not a holy day of OBLIGATION, but just good old Christmas day. What is Christmas Day, exactly? It is the birthday of Jesus. It's most definitely not the actual birthday of Jesus. Jesus was probably born in the spring, hence the shepards out with their flocks at night. And that census....why would anyone have a census in the dead of winter and make everybody trudge off to their home town on foot at the end of December? That would be crazy.

It is the day we picked to celebrate Jesus' birthday because it is the time of year that the days get longer again. The Light has come back to the world. Get it? (That's what all the lights and the candles are supposed to get across to you.)

You don't want to miss Jesus' birthday party, do you? Heavens to Betsy! Jesus is going to be there, in the Flesh.

I'm sorry to blow up your family on Christmas with this bad news, but the Pope on TV doesn't count. The Mass for shut-ins only counts if you are actually shut in. You could pray for a blizzard, I suppose.

Here's how I would resolve the problem were I in your shoes instead of my big nun clod hoppers. I would actually go to the Lutheran service with the in-laws. I don't like to upset old people, especially old people who are in the process of showing off their grandchildren. It's good for the grandparents AND it's good for the children who are being shown off.

Then I would find that Mass in that fourth county and pack up grandma and grandpa and the kids and go show everybody off over there. Tell everyone you have a birthday part to get to, attendance manditory. If it cuts into the present unwrapping and such, you can do it the day before or the day after and just extend the merriment.

Short of that, I would be looking for other venues for grandma and grandpa to show off the children. A small parade? Maybe the Lutherans have another service they can attend, since you don't.

No Masses on Christmas Day in a three county area? What's up with that? I would also be raising a stink about that. Some birthday for Jesus that's going to be.

Leave it to the Lutherans to gum up Christmas for you. Thanks, again, Martin Luther!


Anonymous said...

"Since this si(sic) a huge retirement community, Grandma loves being able to show off her beautiful, well behaved granddaughters in their cute holiday dresses, especially since their local grandchildren are non-church attending white trailer trash."

Nice. Perhaps you should have been a little bit harsher in your response to this poster, Sister. Arrogant and snobbish, to boot? Have the poster and her in-laws been in training for a position with the Pharisees? Because that absolutely classless comment about the "white trailer trash" tells you all you need to know about this family....the Christmas Eve services are about "showing off" to the congregation, and not a whole lot about Christian values that actually might embrace the "white trash" relatives who don't show up to church dressed in crushed red velvet dresses and bows.

Enna Stein said...

To the OP:
In the 10 Commandments, it says to honor thy father and mother. No where does it say "Oh and listen to a dude in a pointy hat and only go to his church."

(And PS - this is the argument your Lutheran relatives will have with it, as it is a Bible based faith, and that pesky Martin Luther kept asking the pope to point out where in the Bible it said that Indulgences/the Papal Seat/the necessity of priests to interceed on your behalf to God, etc, were a-ok, and the pope couldn't.)

Exposing your children to a different faith can do nothing but good for them. And heck, it will give them something to confess come confession time, because as a child, I used to just MAKE UP stuff because I had nothing to say. Ta da! Two problems solved!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Why do the holidays bring out the worst in us? Maybe because we are confused as to who we owe our time and energy.
Dear "Married into the Lutheran Family Lady",
Being a young mother is hard. We want so much to please everyone and (for heaven's sake) NOT rock the boat. But remember that you have an obligation to yourself to BE YOURSELF, and that means...to be able to practice your faith. It is my personal opinion that many of us young mothers, after years of 'towing the line' and trying to please the pushy Grandmas, only end up turning into pushy Grandmas ourselves.
So for your sake, and for your (one day) grown children's sake, give yourself a break and start your own traditions. Because what your children want most in life right now is for YOU to be happy!!
It's amazing what happens when we start to have compassion for ourselves....
I know it's scarry to stand up to the status quo. But please know dear, that you are not alone.
Honor God, honor your beliefs and honor your children...and you can't go wrong.

Lawrence said...

Sister, just recently your blog started crashing my Firefox. It locks up Firefox, and I have to Force-Quit Firefox. Have you made any changes which might account for this? Thanks.


berenike said...

Perhaps it was a teasing bit of familial self-deprecation? hmmmm?

TheIntrepidPie said...

Anonymous - That's quite the comment you've got there! You know who the pharasees are - good for you! That shows that you read the Bible! However, you missed the part about "judge not lest ye be judged." I highly doubt that you are in any position to accuse another human being of being a pharasee. (P.S. Neither am I)
I don't think the woman who made the original quote meant any ill will by her comment about "white trash," nor was she trying to come across as arrogant or snobbish - something you appeared as by way of your comment. If you didn't agree with her you could have found a much nicer way of stating that fact. Verbally attacking someone behind the mask of the internet (anonymous) is not a very Christmas-y thing to do!
Best wishes to you for the new year.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

At first I thought you were going to advise her to upset her in-laws. Thank you for taking their feelings into consideration. I'm sure the Devil loves nothing more than to see us have family disagreements over religious practice. Way to disappoint him, Sister!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Oh, and if you lived near us, I would so go to your house for Christmas!

Janelle said...

My little sister and I are sitting by the tree with our phones and our laptops, attempting to coordinate Christmas presents (despite the presence of neither computer nor cell phone in the Scriptures, Shannon's blog inspired me to get a cupcake stand for my cupcake connoisseur friend). Since I started cracking up, my sister asked what was so funny. She says your "bless their misguided souls" line is priceless. Merry Christmas to all!

PraiseDivineMercy said...

My first thought would be to attend midnight mass if available.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think the woman who made the original quote meant any ill will by her comment about "white trash," nor was she trying to come across as arrogant or snobbish.."

Anonymous here again, TheIntrepidPie, and sorry, you seem to be a very gracious person, but the OP used the term "white trailer trash" to refer to other family members; that is a vile term under any circumstances, and most definitely reeks of classism, arrogance, and prejudice. I can't imagine using that term in a neutral or even joking tone; it is as offensive and unacceptable as using any other racial or ethnic slur. I don't see anything arrogant about stating that.

But, in all seriousness, Merry Christmas to all readers here, and lets hope that family squabbles don't dissolve into name calling like this.

Mary said...

Merry Christmas, Sister! I absolutely love your blog. I was talking with a Catholic friend of mine the other day and I have a few questions for you. Why are Catholics obligated to go to Mass on certain days of the year- and why is it a sin not to go?

My friend has been asking me to come to Mass with her. Can you give me a few good reasons (besides fear of hell- which admittedly is a pretty good reason) why I should join the Church?


distracted by shiny objects said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha, I somehow fell over your blog and wanted to thank you. It has quite cheered up my evening. With all due respect, you are one funny little minx.

As for my two cents worth about where to spend Christmas, it seems to me that being with family and making decisions based on love isn't a bad choice. Grandparents aren't around forever and these holiday "routines" seem to fly past quickly. I work in a place where 20 families will be spending Christmas in an ICU, as will I. We're only one of many such places. I believe God is okay with us not being in church, but being where we are needed. Many blessings to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

But IS there such a thing as "white trailer trash"? Does it exist? If it does - and I have much proof that indeed, it does - that means that somewhere, some people really *are* "white trailer trash". In which case, it would be the truth to call them what they, in fact, are.

Why do you have a problem with calling something what it really is? Keeping in mind that this is all anonymous.

PC-ness is just about the most tiresome thing in the world.

Janelle said...

Love the sinner. Don't love the sin.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

Enna Stein,

nice way to show respect to our Church Fathers.

Pardon the snark, but believing in the infallibility of Church doctrines is only logical.

Mary, besides infallible doctrine, another reason to join the Catholic Church is that it's the one founded by Christ.

Lawrence said...

Sister, I went to Midnight Mass last night, at St. Cyril's of Jerusalem, in Encino, Cal., and the Mass lasted 1 hr and 45 min. because the choir was up behind the altar and the Mass would stop each time the choir launched into a song. I got so tired of it. When did Show Business replace the Sacrifice of the Mass?

Jane said...


Mass doesn't "stop" when the choir sings. The singing is part of the Mass. It has been that way for a very long time. Before modern times, people used to spend all day at church on Sunday, and everything was sung, sometimes even the homily!

If you have a problem with the Mass lasting more than an hour, you might want to examine your priorities. Do you walk out of a movie theater or a friend's party if it takes more than an hour? You can spend an hour and forty-five minutes with Jesus on his birthday.

As for the choir being behind the altar, well, I'm with you on that one. Choirs should generally be heard and not seen, which is why I sing from the loft at my parish. But lots of churches don't have choir lofts, so the options are limited.

Lawrence said...

Thanks Jane, but the Mass DID stop each time the Choir launched into a song, and the 4 Priests co-celebrating Mass stood stock still around the altar as if frozen in time. It was weird I thought. I grew up with the Latin Mass, with the Choir singing during Mass, and I've certainly been to thousands of Masses since then, but somehow this Midnight Mass was sort of disjointed. I assume it was an experiment, and perhaps it will be done better next time. But I've never seen a Mass before where everything came to a standstill while the Choir sang. And St. Cyril's has a wonderful choir loft--they just don't use it. The Bulletin had announced that the Choir would perform Christmas hymns 1/2 hour before Mass, and so I went an hour early to get a good seat.

As far as examining my priorities... SMM has already whacked my knuckles with a cyber-ruler over my previous post. So consider them examined!

Lawrence said...

Owwww... Jane... I didn't know you were in the Choir at St. Victor's on Holloway! I've been there a few times, even for Midnight Mass 3 years ago. St. Victor's has the finest Catholic Choir I've ever heard. You are to be congratulated. My hat is off to you. Next year I'm going there for M. Mass.

Jamie Burns said...

Please explain why December 25 is "most definitely not the actual birthday of Jesus"?
Who says shepherds are only in the fields at lambing time (Spring)? Just people who like to jump on a slippery slope of doubt.
When it is very cold, sheep tend to "pile on" for body warmth, and can crush the sheep on the bottom of the pile. As well, predators and thieves do not necessarily take a Christmas Vacation in the winter.
As to the census, do you think those kind of operations only took a few weeks? There was a whole empire to count.

When was incense burned in the Holy of Holies? See Leviticus 16. When did our Blessed Mother visit her kinswoman Elizabeth for her confinement? In Elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy--six months after Yom Kippur (plus Luke 1:26 says the sixth month which would be our March (since the year starts at Rosh Hashanah).
If the Anunciation was in March, then the Nativity was in December.
Tradition (not doctrine) places Good Friday, and the Creation (Big Bang) also on March 25, the same day as the Annunciation: when the Word became flesh, and God's Plan to join with mankind became complete.
But the December date of Christmas is scriptural, and I can't see a reason to doubt it based on irrelevant and uninformed supposition about sheep ranching practices in the First Century.