Midnight mass hysteria

Churches would do well to welcome the imperfect to come as we are


It’s funny how we treat going to church. Funnier still how we can act whenever we’re there. Folks who don’t believe in the practice avoid it for whatever reasons; some of which must have at least something to do with a rote dullness sometimes seen in it, especially from the outside looking in. It’s no surprise to this average sinner on the street that masses of humanity avoid breathing in stuffy, stagnant religiosity on a regular basis. Besides, there are practical concerns and prohibitive considerations. One could catch a God-awful virus strain from a pew, or suffer a sudden bout of conscience therein. Rubbing elbows with religious crowds comes with such risks, right? Heaven forbid.

Certain relatives I recall — the men, mostly — were fairly devout in their church avoidance behaviors during my boyhood. Throughout the calendar year, they were allowed their Sunday service truancy. Come Christmas Eve, though, thanks to a virtual cattle-prodding by their vehemently more virtuous spouses, they’d show a laughably woozy willingness to let go and let God have an hour or so of their time and wandering attentions by going to midnight mass where, in an air of joyful homage helped by the holidays’ extended happy hours, the boys from our hood celebrated the birth of Jesus like those shepherds keeping their sheep might have that Holy night, had they been pounding shots and beers all evening.