Sermon for the 2011 Christmas Midnight Mass by Monsignor Perez

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


Just a very few words. It’s not customary, really, to preach much at Midnight Mass because of the length and the ceremony and the time of it. But I just want to begin by thanking almost everybody really. We’ve had a very blessed year, and I need to thank so many people that if I skip you, don’t be insulted. It just means my memory is — the cache is full kind of thing, like your computer. But, I want to start with the people who do so much for the parish, the people who decorate the Church, the ushers, the people who clean the Church. This is in no particular order, it’s just the order I am thinking of — especially to our choir. They really are shining tonight. Whatever you had earlier, take some more of it. Our organist who has found some new stops on that organ up there, and he is trying out like flugelhorn or something for the first time. Of course, to those who made tonight’s liturgy possible. First and foremost, my right-hand man, Father Sretenovic, who has put many hours into arranging the practices for all our liturgies and for the boys who serve in various capacities. They gave up a lot of their spare time to come here and make sure that the liturgy is as perfect as it can be first and foremost for Our Lord, but also so it will be edifying for you, the faithful.


I want to thank people who contributed during the year and who made everything we do possible here. If there is anything I hope you get out of Christmas besides the usual, I hope that you get an appreciation for what we have, but especially what we have here. This parish, you know, we can take it for granted, but you will not find much like this parish anywhere else you may travel. Beautiful parishioners full of generous people, and people who are pursuing holiness and who have the traditional sacraments available to them. So, many thanks to everybody who did anything during the year for our wonderful parish here.


Now, I might point out that we are beginning the celebration of Christmas with the best possible thing any mortal could be doing, which is attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but not only the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Millennia Old Roman Rite, the Solemn High form of the Mass. Just as a trivia thing for people, what we are doing tonight with the deacon, sub deacon, all the servers, this is the Roman Rite. What we do at other times, which is shorter, is a truncation, it’s a shortened version. But when we refer to the Roman Rite, this is what it is, this is the Mass. The others are shortened versions of it.


And for those of you who are here for the first time, please don’t let it be your last time, but the Roman Rite of the Mass is most profitable when you know and understand what is going on. If this is your first time or you haven’t come very much, there is a lot happening here. Many, many prayers which are just beautiful. Prayers to God Our Father, and the Holy Sacrifice itself. You will do yourself a favor to get a translation, either the little missal or a bigger missal, so that next time you come you will be able to participate with a little more knowledge of what is happening.


It reminds me of a story my old friend, Michael Davies, used to tell, may God rest his soul. He was very proud. He had brought some people for the first time to a Solemn High Mass, and afterwards there was a little kid amongst them, and he said, “Well, did you like that?” And he goes, “Oh, yes, very much.” And he said, “Well, what was your favorite part?” He says, “The part where they wiggled their bottoms at the beginning”, during the Confiteor. So sometimes that’s how it starts, but believe me, knowing more about it helps it to increase.


I just wanted to say just one little story to kind of leave you with. Christmas is, of course, about the coming of Our Savior. And a devotion even that a lot of people maybe have without knowing that we all have at Christmastime, which is a devotion to the Infant Jesus. We see so many images, every little crèche, nativity scene around, and our detractors in the Protestant camp normally. They say, Well, this devotion you have of this little Baby Jesus, this is foolish, this is dumb. There is no more Baby Jesus. What are you doing having a devotion to the Baby Jesus. And there is one story I like to tell — my first assignment after I was ordained was a parish just outside of Madrid in Spain, and it was, in fact, about a half an hour from Avila, the city of St. Teresa of Avila. We all know what a great saint that she was. And, one of my favorite places to go on my time off, I would go to her monastery, which is no longer an active monastery. It’s like a museum now and you can go in there. There’s this little staircase — of course, the place is 500 years old plus, so it wasn’t like a big concrete and steel affair, but there’s this little staircase with tile on it, and it had a landing, so it goes up like that (Monsignor demonstrating L shape) has a landing, and then goes up like that, up to the second floor. And there St. Teresa of Avila, who was St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus because she had such a devotion to Our Lord as a child as a baby in the manger. And one night she was going up these stairs and there was a kid — you know, what’s this kid doing in the monastery. Right? Probably the first thing that came to her mind. Of course, He looked for all the world like what we see in the manger, not meaning to give away the plot here. But He said to her, “Who are you?” And she says, “Well, I am Sister Teresa of the Infant Jesus.” And she goes, “Well, who are you?” And he goes, “I am the Infant Jesus of Sister Teresa”. And she got to converse and even hold Our Lord as a little child. So, I think this is a good thing to think about, that He is present to us at every time and in every moment in any way, because He is Lord and He is God as He is in heaven.


So, as we devote ourselves to this year of holiness beginning with our devotion to the Infant Jesus at Christmastime, may it be a year of blessings and hope and holiness for all of us here. And, once again, thank you all for all that you have done for this parish and continue to do.


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.