Monday, December 26, 2022
Victor Martell - St. Vincent de Paul Society
Almost every year, I remember a story that I was told took place in a very poor village in the fertile lands of Galicia. It was so many years ago that I may have forgotten some of it and made up the rest. Do not believe much of it because when I visited those parts, I was told on good authority that Jesus was Galician. But let's get to the heart of the story.
It was the night before Christmas — which in many places we call Christmas Eve — and in the little church of the village the old priest was arguing with some of his parishioners because he wanted to celebrate Midnight Mass.
"Excuse us, Father, but you should reconsider this proposition to have the Midnight Mass today precisely, because even a blizzard has been forecast."
"I don't care about the blizzard! How is it that those who live in big cities have the privilege of celebrating and because we are poor we are going to be left without Mass? So let there be no more talk: blizzard or no blizzard, we will have our Midnight Mass. Of course, come dressed warmly because you know that the furnace is broken."
Truly, this priest must have been a mountain man to be so stubborn!
Before Mass began, the old priest sent some of the young people from the village to bring dry branches to make a big bonfire at the door of the church to keep warm those who were inside.
The chill was strong. More than one of them shivered inside, even though they had experienced such cold temperatures in the church. But the old priest didn't care. He continued with his eucharistic celebration.
When the time came for elevating the consecrated host, thousands of lights were lit all over the church. The candles began to light up on all the altars; they were lit all over the church. A gigantic five-pointed star rested over the host, signifying that the infant Jesus was there. Immediately the most beautiful Christmas carols, in the voices of singing children, were heard all over the town, even though there were no amplifiers in the church.
The old priest had placed a very modest Nativity scene in a corner of the altar, which they took on real figures with thousands of multicolored lights. Everyone fell to their knees before the spectacle, which God had reserved only for the poorest.
That night, the story goes, five women of the town became pregnant and the next day six young men went to visit the old priest, all of whom had received in their hearts the desire to become priests and enter the seminary.
Nothing like that ever happened again in this village lost in the Galician lands.
It is obvious that the old priest did not ascend to the altars, nor did any bishop credit this event a miracle. But what I am sure of is that this fact is remembered in those lands, where once again God comes close to the little ones.
Let us pray that this Christmas he also comes close to us, so that we may feel him very strongly in our hearts throughout the year.
This blog was first published as a column in the December 2022 edition of La Voz Católica.