Thoughts on being required to go to Mass yesterday

So I actually made it to Mass yesterday morning, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It was far from certain, esp. Tuesday  night at approximately 11:15 PM, when I wondered how realistic it was to expect that I’d actually get up fifteen minutes earlier than normal in order to make it to a 6:30 A.M. service.   I set my alarm for 5:45, went to bed, and decided to see how I was doing in the morning.

At 5:58, I rolled over, looked at the clock and thought: I can do this. So I did.

And this is my cue to start talking about why I actually sort of like Holy Days of Obligation.

See, there was something very lovely about leaving the house when it was still dark outside, driving along the rainy streets.  There were few people out and about when I left at 6:28 (okay, I was five minutes late to Mass).  It was quiet and actually prayerful, like keeping vigil over a sleeping world.  I happened to have the car radio on a classical station, and they were playing an instrumental version of Gounod’s Ave Maria.  I was still waking up, so it took me about half a mile to make the connection that it was a Mary hymn on a Mary feast day.  I smiled behind the steering wheel, wondering if the DJ were a fellow Catholic girl.

And then I pulled up at the church, in the darkness.  It almost felt surprising to open the door and see light inside.  There were a small handful of people in the pews, widely-spaced, in the manner of Catholics at an early morning Mass, but there was also a  feeling of community.  That’s not unusual when you are all awake and the rest of the world seems asleep.  It was a short Mass, with no singing, but there was something spare and lovely about it all.  Normally during Mass, I’m administering goldfish crackers and hauling Luke out from under the pew. This morning, it was quiet and hushed and tranquil.  I liked being there alone, shivering slightly in my coat, waking up to the words of the Mass.

It was light by the time I left the church at 6:55.  The rain kept falling, but softly; I got to school ten minutes earlier than usual.  It was very nice to go through the day with Jesus inside me.

This is the great thing about a Holy Day of Obligation.  Under no other circumstances would I ever haul my tired behind out of a warm cozy bed and go to Mass even before the sun has risen.  But a few times a year, I do.  I drive through the dark and open the heavy church door and find light, and other people, and a quiet, gentle affirmation of all that I believe.

And that is not a bad way to start the day.

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