Frohweinachten aus Bingen, Germany

Blessed and Merry Christmas from Bingen, Germany

Last night was thrilling as I stood at the altar of St. Martin Basilica, concelebrating Christmas Eve  Mass in Bingen, the home of St. Hildegard.

At the beginning of Mass we processed to the Christmas crib for the blessing which was very moving. The church was illluminated with candles and the singing was vigorous. At the crib memories of all the Christmas cribs at the parishes where I have been assigned were very vivid. For almost 40 years preparing the crib with devoted parishioners has been a highlight for me.

Then at the altar I remembered in prayer all Christ’s faithful I have been priviledged to serve. Saint Augustine in Richmond, Saint John in Waynesboro, Saint Mary of the Annunciation, Saint Benedict in Richmond. The solemn celebration last night was a moment of thanksgiving for all the faithful people entrusted to my care.

During the Mass I prayed through the intercession of Saint Hildegard of Bingen to bless all those with whom I have celebrated this most holy night throughout my priestly ministry. 

As those beautiful words of the Christmas proclamation drifted through the air so heavily laden with incense my thoughts turned to all those entrusted to my care in ministry and I prayed the Christ child be born anew within their hearts on this most holy night.

This morning we returned to church for the Solemn Mass of Christmas Day. There was a men’s Gregorian choir and mixed choir. It was stunning. The men chanted the propers in latin and the mixed choir augumented the singing and also prepared some choral selections. The high point was the chanting the Creed in Latin which so beautifully unites us in a faith that transcends language and culture. At the altar I felt so close to everyone in the church and when I distributed Holy Communion with the invitation, “Der leib Christi,”  the body of Christ, I was so drawn into the mystery of the Incarnation.

Frohweihnacthen! Merry Christmas!