By Gabrielle Morgan
A sense of peace prevailed among the people who seemed to be relaxed and happy after the pre-Christmas rush. They waited expectantly for Mass to begin which was to be celebrated by a visiting priest from Rome.
Annie, our organist, had not arrived. I was told she wasn’t well and we must proceed without her. With a full church congregation, I realised how much we depended on Annie. She travelled miles by car each Sunday, after already attending Mass at her own Church, to play the organ for us. Now it was up to me to choose an Entrance Hymn appropriate for Christmas morning, one which everyone might know by heart. I thought quickly and chose the carol ‘Silent Night’. Without accompaniment, a cappella style, a chorus of voices filled the Church – The Mass became alive.
The Priest began the Liturgy and through the delivery of his homily strengthened our belief in the gift bestowed on us by the birth of Jesus. In a unity of spirit, people from all walks of life filed up to communion to receive the body of Christ in the Eucharist.
At the end of the Mass, without Annie, I searched for inspiration for the recessional hymn. My eyes upon my husband’s image of the baby Jesus led me to announce, “Let us sing – Away in a Manger.”
The congregation responded in full voice, and in that small Church of St. Joseph the true spirit of Christmas was felt. Jesus was manifest in our hearts.
As I left the Church on that Christmas morning, I thought of the special gifts I had received throughout the year by being part of this small community of worshippers at St. Joseph’s.
The gift of Annie, whose strong will in witness of her faith allowed her to dedicate herself to our needs, despite the fact that she no longer drives and must find transport. Her generosity of heart and true affection was indeed an image of the spirit of Christ. It is to Annie I feel a debt. Her example is my strength.
The gift of our Parish Priest, who regardless of ill health, continues to travel to St. Joseph’s to bring us the Eucharist in the Mass. In him we encounter our Lord.
The gift of friendship, shared joys, struggles and united prayers in faith, all a comfort to the soul.
Along with everyone who attended Mass that morning, I left in peace, with a full heart and an abundance of blessings before partaking of our Christmas feast
© Gabrielle Morgan