Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Mormon at Midnight Mass

I was a bit of an interloper Christmas Eve. 

My mother and I linked arms around our very young friend in a somewhat less young body to secure her from the ice, snow, and steps, stole through a backdoor into the priest’s quarters, and were escorted sideways through the long line of eager, possibly once-yearly worshippers and up through the gorgeous vaulted artwork and excited hush to a front side pew of the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City for Midnight Mass.

I had only tried this once before, perhaps ten years ago when my sister lived in Salt Lake.  It didn’t last long, as my sister became ill and my brother and I had to escort her back to her apartment a few blocks away.

But tonight I was there to stay for the duration.  Or something.  After being seated properly, the large building became very warm and the lights went off as a spotlight highlighted the reader for the Introductory Verse. I quickly fell asleep (how did anyone stay awake under those conditions?) and then awoke for the angelic choir and orchestral music, and each time I had to stand through the hour-and-a-half service.

In between my groggy attempts to stay awake and being lulled back to sleep by the music, I felt myself aware of two things: Catholics generally do much better (other than our beautiful Tabernacle Choir) at music – where do they find such voices?! – and felt gratitude that my own faith had donated quite a bit of money towards building and upkeep of the highly decorated building.


  1. That is pretty cool that you went to a Catholic Service. I think I would be too scared to try that. Growing up I always went to a Lutheran Christmas Eve Candle Light Service. My husband and I went and did that this year. It was way different than the church I went to growing up for the candle light services. I always had a hard time when I was little staying awake. It was always so warm and late and dark, I just could never help it.

  2. Isn't that cathedral beautiful! I've been to mass there a couple of times (never for midnight mass though, unfortunately), and I'm always awestruck and uplifted by the unique architecture and the beautiful music. Nathan and I have a tradition of listening to the King's Choir Christmas broadcast on Christmas Eve morning, and it always takes us back to the beautiful chapel there at Kings. I suppose I'll never appreciate it the same way a Catholic might, but I always find mass to be something of a beautiful, almost magical experience.

  3. We went to Midnight Mass at Westminster Abbey this year. We very much enjoyed it, but John and Chrissy nearly choked on all the incense (it was literally smoking in huge poofs right next to them at various times in the ceremony). You're right about the beautiful music! I have to admit that I was a little annoyed, though, to not sing the melodies I know on "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear". haha

  4. I grew up as an Air Force Brat and had the wonderful opportunity to attend Catholic services with my friends a few times. Always memorable.