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The Christmas Vigil Mass I attended in Sydney was a resounding success in at least one sense of the word. Throughout the celebration the very rafters echoed raucous chatter and loud applause after every carol, especially vocal solos performed in front of the altar.
The first carol, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", set the tone. Even during Communion the racket continued, and any hope of quiet prayer in thanksgiving for the birth of Our Lord and the Blessed Sacrament was dashed by lusty handclapping after an instrumental solo.
But never mind, it was good to see so many once-a-year massgoers present, though it meant seating was in short supply. Some elderly women had to stand, but a lot of teenagers and young men found a seat. Still, they responded with gusto when offering the sign of peace and goodwill to all.
As I left the church amid the ongoing bonhommie I wondered if I'd taken part in a Mass of thanksgiving or a social get-together and concert. I almost wept: not just because people diminish Him who is at the literal crux of the Mass, but also because they know not what they do - and no one sets them straight.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 25 No 2 (March 2012), p. 15
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