Simple Grandeur

An Essay By Gary // 1/8/2006

From the glowing candles to the golden crèche, the old stone church, Immaculate Conception was beautifully adorned for Christmas mass. The church, in itself, is a work of art. There is a towering ceiling adorned with a massive, shining mosaic. Looking at the gigantic stone statues of Peter and Patrick, Joseph, Mary, and Christ, and the Altar adorned by a stone canopy crowned with angels, one’s mind is captivated to say the least. A church built in such glory is nothing short of a microcosm of Heaven and Salvation history. The Church was packed, as it normally is on Christmas, which is as saddening as it is wonderful. How many of these people come to Mass weekly? How many of them know Who Christ really is?

I sat there praying and longing to see a miracle. Strangely I began to think of biblical times and how God seemed somehow more visible back then. Rightly or wrongly enough, my prayers asked God for a vision of his grandeur. For some reason, He ordained that He would grant the people in that church a special Christmas gift!

The congregation, a mix of the faithful and those of us who responded only with mindless amens, came to witness the center of the Mass where bread and wine is transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Just moments ago the priest had placed his hands over the gifts and asked the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Then it happened. Just after the great miracle of the Eucharist had taken place, the flutter of a bird’s wings was heard. I turned as a beautiful snow-white dove flew above the altar and landed on a ledge looking over the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. A dove is the very symbol of the Holy Spirit! I think it’s remarkable how some people didn’t even seem to notice and how others were captivated. It wasn’t as if he was expected. That dove looked over the grandest miracle in the world. It was a simple miracle of God, as if the Holy Spirit was saying “I am here” through that little bird. It was a timely reminder of His true presence! It reminded me of how the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin and Christ became flesh. He showed His presence in a church dedicated to the Virgin, just as Christ’s flesh was given for our communion.

That bird came simply, yet miraculously. It was our little gift from God. On Christmas so many of us become absorbed in the superficial and forget the profound. We forget the mystery of God becoming man and worry instead about silly little presents. We forget how He came to restore God’s friendship with man, how Jesus literally came to us in His divinity, how He suffered for our salvation, and suffered under the men whom He had given breath…We seem to often dismiss how He knows every atom that makes up our bodies, every atom and particle in the entire universe, every word ever spoken, every thought, and every heart… Christ had seen that moment in history when man rejected God and humanity’s fullness was scarred and fallen, still though we forget, He came and was born to die for our redemption

He did all of this for us! Why have we reduced the grandeur of God’s mercy to nothing more than amusement? What does it matter after all? What is Christmas? What more than a red nose on a reindeer or a fat man is a red suit? What does a Jewish Teacher who cured the sick, gave sight to the blind, and rose from the dead have to do with it? Isn’t it only about giving our family gifts and joy? White snow, season’s greetings, and a tree? What does it have to do with the one Who knit your family’s very being, designed joy, created snow and the seasons, and Who died on the tree? Oh no, it can’t be about God! That’s politically incorrect!

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