This year, prepare for Midnight Mass on Christmas and prepare to be amazed
“Ok, Father. I prayerfully review the Mass readings beforehand. I identify in advance the graces that I desire—graces for which I will ask God at Mass. I arrive at the church 30 minutes before Mass. I still myself, catch my breath, quiet my mind and heart. And then?”
Start by being amazed: “Good Lord! I’m here! Alive! At Midnight Mass! I can practice my faith! Throughout the world, so many Christians risk danger and death just for being Christian—and here I am. Lord, why have You so provided for me? And what is a worthy response to this amazing grace?”
Continue by being contrite: “Oh, dear God! Before Your throne, in the presence of Your Eucharistic Son, in the stillness you have given me here—now I can see and smell the awful stains of my sin. Into the mess of human life, a mess to which I have contributed more than my fair share, into this mess of human life, You have decided to enter and to dwell. I have known this for so long, yet I have ignored this amazing truth. You offered human life a dignity and destiny beyond what the Pagans could imagine and beyond what the Moderns could comprehend, and by my sin I rejected the great Gift-of-Yourself.”
Then turn to thanksgiving: “My loving Savior! Yours is a most stubborn love! By your compassionate Cross You prove that You would rather go through Hell for me than go to Heaven without me. You decided that sin and death should not own and destroy the world our Father made. As You became one of us, now You call me to be one with You. Thank you!”
Conclude with supplication: “Almighty and glorious God! My loving Father! With the boldness of a child, I ask you now for what I desire. I ask for joy—the delight of being in the presence of the beloved. As Mary and Joseph found joy in the Christ Child, so too may I find joy as I behold Your Christ given for me. I ask for healing—that the wounds and weakness that come from sin may be replaced by the beauty and goodness that come only from grace. And I ask for hope—the security of trust in Your fidelity. Just as You were faithful in sending Your Son to us as a Child, may I find security in Your promise that He will return in glory to perfect His saving work.”
This year, do more than just go to Midnight Mass. Plan to go to Midnight Mass, and give God every chance to bless you as He blesses all those who offer Him their time and their trust.
When I write next, I will reflect on the ending of one year and the start of the next. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.
Father Robert McTeigue, S.J. is a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. A professor of philosophy and theology, he has long experience in spiritual direction, retreat ministry, and religious formation. He teaches philosophy at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, FL, and is known for his classes in both Rhetoric and in Medical Ethics.