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.