Thursday, December 22, 2005

Preparing for Christmas

As you might imagine, I've been busy as I suppose most priests are this time of year.

But things are cooling down a little. I thought I ought to post something.

Perhaps you would find it diverting to know what is keeping a parish priest, a pastor, busy these days...

Naturally, of course, Penance services, both here and at neighboring parishes.

Weather: we have had two snows already; one on the Vigil of Immaculate Conception, and then a week later, when we had our penance service. Far too much of the wretched stuff is still on the ground. When this hits, all kinds of "wheels are in motion" to quote that great philosopher, Jerry Seinfeld.

Decorations. The office "needs" to be decorated. (Of course, it really doesn't. Except that the staff enjoys doing it, so why be a Scrooge? And we are celebrating our Savior's birth--we want to look like we're celebrating.)

The church has to be decorated -- first for Advent, now, gradually this week, for Christmas. Fortunately, we have daily Mass (except for Mass with the schoolchildren) in a chapel; meaning the volunteers who decorate can do so without disrupting too much.

The crib is up, with all but il Bambino and, of course, the Magi.

I recall when I was in the seminary, one of my brother seminarians, now a priest, had the Wise Men, and their retinue, on a journey through the whole seminary for I-don't-know-how-many-days before Epiphany; but it was amusing to walk down the hall and see they'd advanced several doors during the night. How about if I did that?

Writing extra homilies: for a Penance Service (although I confess I redid a homily from a past penance service; sorry, but I think that's preferable to "winging it"), Immaculate Conception (two homilies), and now Christmas (two homilies). Today, I worked on a funeral homily for tomorrow, after which I wrote my homily for Midnight Mass. Sorry: again, I wasn't as original as I'd like.

I don't know how priests write several homilies, one right after another.

I find that, having investing myself into a particular homily, a particular set of readings, and the occasion, etc., it is hard to turn that off, and do it again, especially for a similar, but not the same, occasion: i.e., the Vigil Mass (and its readings) and the Midnight Mass. Hence, my Vigil Mass homily was brand new (I've never had that Mass; at my prior assignment, the pastor took it, and I took midnight). while my midnight homily reworks one from several years ago.

I have done no Christmas shopping, other than to get the necessary items to decorate my own home. I have a (real) tree, a leftover from a party here, and I have decorations I may put up tonight, otherwise, tomorrow. Christmas cards? Don't be funny! (Again: some people say, why bother? I think some priests do. But for me, I think my house should look like I'm a Christian.)

What else? A lot of the usual craziness, only turned up several notches. Phone calls can drive one crazy; it is a real skill to handle them well. "Six PM, Midnight, 7 and 10 AM. You're welcome." Requests for money, for gifts (we had a "giving tree" all through Advent; but all the gifts have been given away), people show up to drop things off and pick things up. Some of these things can be time-sponges.

Meanwhile, I have an staff to manage, various, boring-yet-essential business matters to attend to, other, genuine crises show up at the door (one a couple weeks ago took pretty much the whole day, between the crisis itself, then the followup, then just reacting to it afterward).

But I am looking forward to next week: the office is closed! I will have a chance to work without interruption! (That's a little-told secret about priests; yes, many of us are happy to have "time to relax" but what we would love is time to work in peace.)


mrsdarwin said...

God bless your dedication, Father. May you have plenty of time during the Christmas season to work with no interruptions and blog to your heart's content!

Deacon Jim said...


Thank you for your work and your blog. I wish you and your parish family all of God's choicest blessing for the entire Christmas season and the New Year.

DP said...

We all know that you priests need extra prayers during Advent and Christmas!!! I'm certainly keeping you and all the other priests I know in my intentions. It all sounds impossible without the grace of God.

With regards to the journeying Magi, it's not the first time I've heard of that. I actually know quite a few families who's magi travel to the crĂȘche for Christmas. I think the best story I've heard though is of a family that duct tapes baby Jesus to the Virgin Mary until Christmas day when He's born!!!