The Christmas Eve Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was a beautiful service tonight with the focus on Jesus Christ and a world that concentrates too much on wealth, greed, and influence. Reverend Carlo Maria Vigano, Vatican representative to the United States of America, delivered a brilliant sermon that espoused the admonition of Jesus Christ that the meek shall inherit the earth.
The Christmas Eve Mass began at 9:30 p.m. and ended at 12:30 a.m. Reverend Monsignor Walter Rossi, the Rector of the Basilica, thanked Reverend Vigano for giving the sermon that reflected Pope Francis often stated belief the world is growing more and more distant from the core Christian belief that titles and wealth are not the main factors in helping a world in need.
A very touching moment during the service came when a woman fainted and was immediately surrounded by ushers who held her and helped her to her feet while worshipers used programs to fan her and comfort her until she regained her composure. She was fine after the service as the writer greeted her before leaving the Basilica. With a universal congregation of Christmas worshipers the program at the Basilica was a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a gathering of thousands of people of all races and nationalities who came together to spread peace and love.
A full list of the people who made the service a success is listed below:
Rev. Msgr Walter R. Rossi, Rector of the Basilica
Rev. Vito A. Buonanno, Rev. Michael D. Weston, Rev. Raymond A. Lebrun: Priests of the Basilica. Deacons of the Basilica included Ira E. Chase, Sr, Joseph Curtis, Jr, and Michael D. Yakir.
Peter Latona is the Director of Music; Richard K. Fitzgerald is Associate Director of Music; Robert Grogan, Carillonneur and Organist Emeritus. Susan Lewis Kavinski, Neil Ewachiw, and Kathleen Baughman are Cantors of the Basilica.
The Ushers of the Basilica provided excellent service as they assisted worshipers, helped to prevent people from placing chairs in the aisle against the fire codes and assisted people with medical needs. Rev. Rossi thanked the Liturgical Ministers of the Basilica of the National Shrine, Knights of Columbus, Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate, Sacristans of the Basilica of the National Shrine.
The beautiful Christmas decorations highlighted a Christmas program that included the carefully planned spiritual program which included music from the Knight’s Tower. The program opened with the French traditional carol Angels We Have Heard on High and grew more reverent and solemn with each selection.
The advice from Ms. Campbell and Shrine staff to arrive early to get a seat was priceless. A family arrival at 7:22 p.m. ensured a choice of seating that those who arrive later did not have. Thousands of people packed into the Basilica for the service and many remained who arrived after the 7:22 pm time were left standing due to the enormous number of people who arrived for the event. Fire codes forbid the placement of seats in the aisle and worshipers chose to remain in standing positions.
Every aspect of the Christmas Eve Mass was flawless as those who came to the program early and were guided by Masters of Ceremony Reverend Michael Weston and Reverend Justin Ross. The Mass marked the beginning of the 52nd Christmas Eve Mass for the writer's wife of 30 years who attended their first Christmas Eve Mass together at the Catholic Cathedral in Bamako, Mali, West Africa, in 1984.
The emphasis on service and humility made the Mass timeless as Reverend Vigano talked about the men and women of wealth and power who feel they don’t need God or anybody else.
The Christmas Day Mass will take place at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The Solemn Mass will be at 12 noon in the Great Upper Church with Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl as Celebrant and Homilist. There will also be a Spanish Mass at 2:30 p.m. in the Great Upper Church with Archbishop Emeritus Theodore Cardinal McCarrick as Celebrant and Homilist.
A great service to the nation was provided by the Basilica tonight.
Merry Christmas, America.