Greetings to the lonely on Christmas

Many years ago I had "hotwired" the phone of the office I working in in Rome so that I could dial out past the Vatican operator and get on Compuserve (Oh… how we thought that was cutting edge at the time), where I was moderator of the ur-Catholic Online Forum.  That forum software had chat room functions.   Each time I would try to leave the site to go home, some other soul would enter the "room" and it rapidly became obvious that many people were either shut in or alone.  After all, why else would they have been there?  I wound up spending over 12 hours in that office that Christmas, talking to people all over the world who were alone and providing the chat room for their safe clean chat. 

It occurred to me in the middle of Mass number 3 today (Puer natus est) that that might indeed be the case with people using blogs today.

I don’t have chat enabled in this blog but I do want to greet those of you who are along or shut in, perhaps ill or unable otherwise to go out, without people to be with.

I remembered you at Mass today and I give you my special Christmas greeting.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mark says:

    Thank you….it means a great deal. A Merry and blessed Christmas to you.Thank you for allthat you do.

  2. Argent says:

    Blessed Christmas to you, Father! Enjoy the white Christmas for us who only hear of such things.

  3. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    What a wonderful thought and very priestly.Merry Christmas.

  4. Diane says:

    Merry Christmas Fr. Z.

    I’m not alone, but mom was in the hospital getting blood transfusions for anemia and greatfully was released in time to be home for Christmas. We are not doing our usual big family visits, but instead taking in a nice quiet day – and a blessed one indeed considering how dire things looked the other day for her.

    Midnight Mass was splended at Assumption Grotto. Didn’t get home until 4:00am. After the Orchestral Mass ended near 2:00am, Fr. Perrone led us in Christmas carols in the parish hall and we had quite a spread. I can’t wait for New Years Eve Mass. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen where New Years is brought in with the Body and Blood of Christ rather than champagne, which we partake in some time after the 11:00pm Mass ends. But in our urban parish neighborhood the pastor has a tendency to keep us in the parish church for an additional 30 minutes or so with a Midnight Rosary and prayers (which is about as long as it takes for gunfire to slow down enough for us to dodge safely into that parish hall).

    I’m wondering if any other parishes have New Years Eve Liturgies and parties?

    Merry Christmas to all the lonely!!!

  5. Catholic Lady says:

    Thank you father, especially since I am a semi shut in now, getting out to High Mass and back on Sunday is about my limit of physical tolerance – short two hour visits with family work too. Pleae keep me in your prayers. I think how long I prayed for the TLM to come to Phoenix diocese and it has successfully for a couple of years now. That I also prayed that the local parish would have a more reverent liturgy and lo and behold that too has come to pass. And now I am moving 70 miles away from both to a place called Not quite being put out to pasture but in a safer and healthier environment (Phoenix air must be as bad as Rome’s). And I too remember those Compuserve days and how I tried to be available also on Christmas for those lonely folks as did Tommy Romano and some of the other staff. Those sheltered chat rooms were wonderful – doubt if that would work today with so many crazies on the internet.

    God Bless you always in all you do for all of us in so many ways.

  6. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    I abolished the midnight mass on new years eve and replaced it with a holy hour when I came in as pastor of my last parish.I remember a note from rome ,perhaps in Notitiae,stating that there was only one mass specified for midnight and that was at Christmas.I received several laments from obviously pious parishioners but I pointed out to them that for Catholics January I liturgically is the solemnity of the Mother of God and a holy day of obligation,and that the reason people want midnight masses on dec.31/jan.1 is to usher in the New Year.But that is not the reason why january 1 is a holyday.New years Day is not the holyday but Mother of God.

  7. RC says:

    Thanks for that explanation, Fr. McAfee. It explains why the New Year’s Eve masses are set for 10:30 or 11 p.m. rather than midnight.

  8. Thank you Fr. I agree that this is a very priestly post and very thoughtful of you.
    I’m not alone but here with my husband, home from the grandkids’ Christmas dinner and surfing for some relaxation.

    About the vigil of the Mother of God holy day, I really like this mass. We’ve not had them at midnight which is fine (and really not appropriate anyway) but we have had them so early that working people just can’t get to them. One really has to look to find one to get to…it’s really odd seeing as how we’re supposed to go to holy day masses. Sometime I wonder how much emphasis is really placed on these by the bishops in the US.

    What is the history of the Mother of God holy day? I mean specifically what is the feast about and why Jan 1st? Just curious.

    God bless you and Merry Christmas!

  9. PMcGrath says:

    This was superbly thoughtful of you, Father.

    Sometimes, “those of you who are alone or shut in … without people to be with” are those who have to work on Christmas Day — like monitoring chat rooms, as I had to do one year.

    Sometimes “those of you who are alone or shut in … without people to be with” are actually people who do have homes and families, and somewhere to go on Christmas — but who really don’t. Let the reader understand.

  10. Diane says:

    Fr. McAfee: I can see how my post was a bit misleading, given my emphasis on bringing in the New Year with holy Mass. You are right that the emphasis is on the Mother of God, not the New Year.

    Our December 31 Mass at 11:00pm is for the Feast of the Motherhood of Mary. By midnight, we are usually doing a Rosary during Exposition after which follows Benediction, then a simple New Years Pot Luck. I find this better than a “midnight Mass” regardless because an 11:00pm Mass has us receiving the Body and Blood of Christ right about the time that many are taking in a glass of bubbly. Last year about 250 assisted which is not all that bad considering we are an urban parish with about 700 families, most of whom live upwards of 30 minutes away (geographical boundaries were “lifted” decades ago when the Cardinal found few Catholics within the urban parish geo-boundaries and saw this as a way to keep these old parishes going).

    Your holy hour is a very wonderful thing too. Lord knows, we need many more holy hours.

  11. Jordan Potter says:

    “What is the history of the Mother of God holy day? I mean specifically what is the feast about and why Jan 1st? Just curious.”

    The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is the oldest known Marian feast. It arose apparently because it is the Octave of Christmas. Also, because it is the eighth day from the feast of the Nativity of our Lord, it is also the feast of the Circumcision of our Lord. That is why the Gospel for that feast is the story of the circumcision of Jesus eight days after His birth, Luke 2:21, which mentions not just the circumcision but also that He was given the name Jesus because of how the angel had named Him “before He was conceived in the womb.” Thus, we recall not only His circumcision on this feast, but also His naming, and again His conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, the Theotokos.

  12. Thanks Jordan. Very informative.

  13. Diane says:

    Thanks Jordan. Indeed informative.

  14. Joshua says:

    Father, granted that you are right on with the meaning of January 1, do you think that the Notitiae excludes any other Mass for being celebrated actually on or after midnight (considering that the new day begins at midnight)? We have done this for December 12th for instance.

    To michigancatholic I would add to Mr. Potter’s response (which is good), that before the Novus Ordo the feast was titled the “feast of the Circumcision of our Lord.” The Orthodox, Catholics who go to the TLM and some Higher Church Anglicans celebrate it under this title still, being the first day Our Lord spilt blood. My understanding, I don’t know how accurate this is, is that the feast, in the West at least, was originally a Marian feast but the significance changed because of the readings that were selected (in fact the gospel is short, just “At that time, after eight days were accomplished that the Child should be circumcised: His Name was called Jesus, which was called by the Angel before He was conceived in the womb.”). A sign of it being a Marian feast in origin is that the Collect is Marian, and the Station was at St. Mary’s Across the Tiber. What probably happened is that an older Marian feast was merged with the Octave day, keeping some prayers of both. Modern Anglicans, btw, celebrate this feast as the “Naming of Jesus”

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