Midnight Mass in Queens

The gifted photographer Niranjan Fernando captured these beautiful images from last night at my parish, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, in Forest Hills. [Read more...]

“Once in royal David’s city…”

Still and forever my favorite Christmas hymn. This serves as the processional for Midnight Mass at my parish.  The lights dim, a hush falls, and a small armada of 40 or so red-cassocked altar servers begin gliding into the church, working down the side aisle, rounding a corner, then up the center. The line grows, [Read More...]

“Do not be afraid”: a Christmas homily

From Midnight Mass, 2007, here’s my first Christmas homily.  While the references are dated, I hope the message still resonates.  For so many this year, the central theme —Do not be afraid—is more urgent now than ever.  – Dcn. G. + Like a lot of people of a certain age, I remember well the first [Read More...]

“Come, then, let us observe the Feast”: the first known Christmas sermon

It comes to us from the great St. John Chrysostom, from 386.  (Source).  Stuck for something to say on Christmas?   Try this on for size: BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.  The Angels sing.  The Archangels blend [Read More...]

The best advice I ever got about serving Mass at Christmas…

…It was actually something I overheard. As I’ve noted before, we have a remarkable cadre of altar servers in my parish—100 of ‘em, boys and girls, from ages 8 to 18, every one of them a gem.  They are selfless, generous, enthusiastic and (for the most part, except for a few yawners, scratchers and gigglers) [Read More...]

All you “Les Miz” fans: the 12 Days of Christ-Miz

The cast of the London stage production gets in the spirit. [Read more...]

Merry Christmas from The Bench!

If you somehow slipped off my mailing list this year…do me a favor and just pretend you got this in the mail. Merry Christmas!  [Read more...]

Is Santa missing from your mall?

Turns out, he isn’t quite as ubiquitous as he used to be. Details, from TIME: Throughout North America, most shopping centers are proceeding with the traditions of the season, including regular appearances of Santa, complete with the chance for kids to sit on his lap, tell him what they want, and get a picture taken—so [Read More...]

How Charles Dickens saved Christmas

The story behind the most famous Christmas story since the Nativity, from the Capitol Hill Times: When Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1842, the holiday was nearly dead in modern England. Christmas was celebrated by the rural and poor, but frowned upon by employers. It took an American, Washington Irving, to praise Christmas [Read More...]

“This is a Christmas festival”: Catholic school drops Hanukkah song from concert

Details:  A Hanukkah song was dropped from a Roman Catholic school concert just a day before the show after an official said the season’s focus should be on the birth of Jesus. As a result, two music instructors who had been working with students declined to participate in the concert Tuesday night at Interlochen Arts [Read More...]