Wear Your Easter Finest to Christmas Mass!
Christmas masses are traditionally full, but there might be more room in the pews since you won't need your bulky winter coat this year.
"The fact that parishioners can easily come to church without battling the elements, is a welcome sign for us."
That’s Fr. Jim Schwartz, pastor of St. Joseph’s and Holy Spirit Catholic churches in Penfield.
His message is simple.
"To wish everyone a Merry, Merry Christmas and experience the joy and the peace of this beautiful, beautiful season."
The church was overflowing as expected for the 2 pm Christmas Eve mass at St. Joseph's. Extra viewing rooms were set up throughout the building.
Advent and Christmas mark the start of the church year, and masses traditionally draw a large number of parishioners, which Fr. Jim Schwartz says can spark the spirit of everyone.
"It certainly does pump me up. We're really filled with the energy of trying to proclaim the Christmas message to one and all. We expect there could be as many as 5,000 people coming to St. Joseph's church that we have seven liturgies."
Christmas Eve masses were scheduled at 2, 4, 6 and 8 pm, the traditional Midnight Mass, and on Christmas Day at 9 and 11 am.
A closed circuit TV feed to other rooms at St. Joseph's church in Penfield helps accommodate the crowds, who will hear Fr. Schwartz explain the Christmas mystery as a central theme for his homilies.
"The meaning of Christmas is that the power of God is revealed in an infant. The Christmas mystery is found in the Bethlehem baby born of Mary and Joseph."
He points to the Gospel of Luke.
"In one, simple, unassuming statement lies the story of our Salvation. The evangelist Luke tells us that 'while they were there, the time came for her to give birth, and she gave birth to her first born son.'"
Fr. Jim Schwartz says the message of Jesus was to fill this world with his love.
"Christmas story's the story of God's unconditional love for us. And for us as the disciples of Jesus that we are to mirror many other stories that reflect the love and the peace that our Savior has come to bring."
Fr. Schwartz says his parishioners will hear a story about a young boy who searched the world to determine the language that Jesus spoke.
Do we make too much out of Christmas compared to Easter? Not possible, according to Fr. Schwartz, as long as the true meaning of Christmas is revealed.
"The business of the season, the commercialism of the season, kind of distracts and challenges us to have an inner centeredness on the real meaning of Christmas. But that God has become man in Jesus to reveal the mystery of God's love to us."
Yes, Christmas is a busy time, but churches are ready for you.
"The staff and myself and the priests of St. Joseph's really try to put out a welcome mat and trying to reflect the message of Jesus, which is the message of peace, of joy, or hospitality, of love."
He wishes everyone a Merry, Merry Christmas.