So I actually made it to Mass yesterday morning, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It was far from certain, esp. Tuesday Â 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. Â 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. Â There were few people out and about when I left at 6:28 (okay, I was five minutes late to Mass). Â It was quiet and actually prayerful, like keeping vigil over a sleeping world. Â I happened to have the car radio on a classical station, and they were playing an instrumental version of Gounod’s Ave Maria. Â 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. Â 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. Â It almost felt surprising to open the door and see light inside. Â 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 Â feeling of community. Â That’s not unusual when you are all awake and the rest of the world seems asleep. Â It was a short Mass, with no singing, but there was something spare and lovely about it all. Â 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. Â 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. Â The rain kept falling, but softly; I got to school ten minutes earlier than usual. Â It was very nice to go through the day with Jesus inside me.
This is the great thing about a Holy Day of Obligation. Â 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. Â But a few times a year, I do. Â 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.