When I was a young adult, I was annoyed by the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, a Holy Day of Obligation that falls on New Year's Day. It felt to me as if the Church were acting like a scolding mother, insisting we show up bright and early New Year's Day for Mass. It felt as if the underlying strategy was to make sure we didn't drink too much the night before. Is this holy day really necessary?
Well, I am an older adult now, and I realize the Church's wisdom in giving us the option of a Vigil Mass for this Solemnity. Our family of four attended Mass tonight, along with about 100 other parishioners. Most of them older were than we. The celebrant joked at the start of Mass that he figured tonight's Mass would be attended by the biggest party people among us. And how we clearly are not.
Not that anyone has asked me, but for all the slams against the Church for its sexism, I appreciate that the Church commemorates the role our Blessed Mother played in bringing us our Messiah. I know of no other group of Christians who acknowledge her central role and who gives her such reverence.
Tonight's homilist spoke about happiness and how longing for happiness reflects, at its heart, the longing for the Infinite. Father Tom Odorizzi, C.O., our pastor, pointed out that if accumulating stuff made people happy, then we Americans would be the happiest people in the world. Pleasure alone doesn't make us happy either: the temporary pleasures of alcohol are an example of how moments of pleasure can cause serious harm to oneself and one's beloved.
Our Blessed Mother found happiness despite being poor and marginalized. The invitation to respond the the Mystery is open to each of us, regardless of our circumstances. This message, which is at the heart of the Christian Gospel, was a great one to hear as we enter this new year.
May all of us have a happy new year; that is a year in which we learn to count our blessings and be grateful for the lives we have been given. And once we finish watching "Caddyshack," we will help consume an enormous dish of lasagna a friend of ours has cooked.