“Something has changed within me… something I can’t explain.” Those are some of the first words from one of my favorite Broadways songs “Gravity” from the musical Wicked. And that about sums it up for me tonight.
On Christmas Eve this year, we went to our current church for service. The stage was set with wrapped gifts, and tulle, and lights, and a huge wreath in the center. The pews were packed.
On Christmas Morning this year, we went to Mass. We sat as a complete family in the pew, my eyes drawn upward toward the stained glass, and forward toward the altar. The pews, again, were packed.
On Christmas Eve, we listened to and sang with many wonderfully talented singers and children and celebrated with some lovely Christmas songs, followed by a sermon.
On Christmas Morning, we participated in the celebration of Christmas as it has been practiced by the Church for 2,000 years, with a depth and richness to each and every moment.
On Christmas Eve, we heard a call to salvation, with the emphasis on the need to make a decision… the Grande Moment in Protestantism when one becomes a Christian. Salvation as a one-time event, without comment on what that means for the lifetime that follows after.
On Christmas Day, we heard a call to live out a holy Christian life, by imitating God and showing all people, even the ones that are difficult to love, that God is love through a life lived faithfully … a Grande Answer to the question of “I believe… so now what?”
In Protestantism, you hope that one day your child will make a decision to pray a prayer and accept Jesus into his/her heart and life.
In the Catholic Church God’s grace comes to us beginning at baptism and increasing in measure as we grow in our walk with the Lord. Salvation isn’t a one-time event. It’s a a life-long, eternity-filled process.
At church, I send my daughter to another room where she is lovingly cared for and taught Bible stories. But I’m not an active part of it.
At Mass, I sit next to my daughter as she is beginning to respond with the congregation and I realize how much truth about God we can impart to her through this service each week. “Honey, see that up there- that’s Jesus come to meet with us here. We kneel because we are in front of our Savior,” “Do you notice the words we are singing? We are singing the same songs the angels sing in the book of Revelation,” “This creed is how we remember what all Christians have believed ever since Jesus came…”
I understand the difference now between the Protestant church service and the Mass. As I move along this journey, I am finding that, to me, Mass is so much more rich. Mass is so much more beautiful. Mass is so much more reflective of the glory of my God.
I will miss our church so much in so many ways. The people there love Jesus so much. They are the salt of the earth. I hope we find time to spend with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope this journey we have been on brings us all closer to our Savior.
But on Sunday mornings from here on out, you will find me at Mass.