Silent Night

     Some years, we go to Mass on Christmas morning, and on others, we go to “midnight Mass” late in the evening on the 24th.  This year, we went to midnight Mass.
     What I realized this year is how fundamentally important and special it is for me to go to the late night Masses if at all possible, both on Christmas Eve as well as on the eve of Easter.  Both the birth and the Resurrection of Christ occurred in the night–the Masses in the night re-inact these great events.  These Masses make it possible to imagine the actual event: in the case of Christmas, the hay, the labor, the light of the stars, the delivery and first cries of the infant.  The Mass itself is a perfect expression of Thanksgiving (since that is what “Eucharist” means–“thanksgiving”) for the actual event that you can actually live through in your imagination.  Somehow, Mass the next morning has the same feel that every day does–thinking back to the birth of Christ with thanksgiving.  That is certainly wonderful in its own way.  But the Catholic tradition of these middle-of-the-night treks to church to go re-live and give proper thanks for these divine and sublime events is unforgettable and irreplaceable to me.
     Silent night sung in the middle of the night by candlelight is one of the richest experiences I have ever had.