For a good many years it's been the custom at the Church of the Holy Cross in Champaign to enact the story of Christ's birth at the 4:00 p.m. vigil Mass on Christmas Eve. The youthful actors (elementary and high school students) act silently while the pastor reads the Gospel--in this year (and perhaps in other years), a text sewn together from the evangelists Luke and Matthew and from Fr. Dave Sajdak's imagination.
Here are some pix of the celebration:
Before Mass starts, Deacon Ed Mohrbacher does some prep work in the sanctuary.
The traditional crèche scene is covered over in the center of the sanctuary.
Also before Mass, Fr. Dave put down masking tape to demarcate where the tykes in attendance
would set themselves down for the homily, addressed to them.
Under the direction of our outstanding music director, Scott Montgomery,
the parish's children's choir provided music before and during Mass.
|Our 3 shepherds passing time in the sacristy before Mass.|
The 4 o'clock vigil Mass is always the most crowded of Holy Cross's 5 Christmas Masses.
It appeared to your humble blogger that about 100 people had to stand in the back and the side aisles.
Not sure of the seating capacity--maybe 500?
|Joseph begs the innkeeper (right) for a room while Mary stands off to the left.|
|Joseph, Mary, and a live baby Jesus (just delivered by his real mom, exiting behind the altar).|
The angel appears to the shepherds.
|The magi and the shepherds with the Holy Family. One shepherd, lower right, didn't wake up when the angel came.|
|Fr. Dave preaching to the little ones and expanding the story with a tale of the little shepherd boy.|
|Joseph meets the late-arriving shepherd boy and welcomes him to the manger.|
The complete Nativity ensemble, minus "live Jesus," who had to depart suddenly when he raised a squall and required Mom to come to his assistance. (He was able to resume his place sometime later.)
Fr. Dave sent the tykes back to their parents with instructions to tell them that they love God and them--
which these 2 faithful little parishioners did.