Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 24, 2001
Couple found way to bring joy to the homebound
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
It's not unusual to spot "Christopher moments" - those times when people make a difference by acts of kindness which reflect the goodness of God.
And wonderful as it is to see the effects of such goodness performed by a single person, it's especially encouraging when whole organizations work to make the world a better place. Which brings me to Christmas.
Each year, on Christmas Eve, our parish has a Mass, which is beyond jammed. Our Church seats about 900 people, but on this night, no fewer than 1,500 folks show up. Happily, we have a lower church that can handle the spillover.
This Mass has an absolute flavour of joy. The music soars, and everyone sings out in a way they rarely do during the rest of the year. Little children's anticipation of the birthday of Jesus adds a crackle of energy.
At the end of the homily, a special visitor is introduced - it's Santa Claus himself. Santa engages in a brief dialogue with the priest. Santa reminds everyone that the reason for the season is Christ, that it's far better to give than to receive and that communal prayer is important.
He then stays for the rest of Mass. The wonder in the eyes of the children (and their parents) is thrilling to see.
A few years ago, the Muller family attended this special Christmas Eve Mass. They felt the contagious joy and thought it should be shared even more widely. So they stopped me outside church and asked, "How many people in the parish can't get to Christmas Mass because they're homebound, disabled or unable to get out and about?"
My guess was that at least 100 people were unable to come to church, most of them elderly parishioners fighting illness or disability. Richard, the father of that family, said he thought missing such a wonderful Christmas celebration was a sad thing. I agreed, but what could be done?
Richard and Mary Muller found a way. They own a thriving photography and video-graphy studio. So they made a proposal and then made good on it by donating their work.
On Christmas Eve, they would bring their camera crew, including their two teenage sons, Gregory and Keith, and film that joyous and uplifting Mass with Santa and the children. They'd then return to the studio, edit what they'd shot and reproduce 100 videocassettes.
Our job was relatively simple: To see that each of the homebound parishioners got a copy and had a VCR to watch it. Our Eucharistic ministers gladly acted as delivery agents.
The reaction from the homebound was immediate and uniformly positive.
One letter I received, from a 90-year-old woman, 67 years in the parish, said it best: "Being alone at Christmas isn't easy. But with the special gift of the Christmas Eve video, I wasn't alone anymore. Christmas is always better when seen through the eyes of children.
"I became one with the young people of St. Thomas thanks to the miracle of that tape. Thanks so much for letting me be a part of that joy-filled evening of celebration. Maybe I can't walk or get out, but through the efforts of our parish, I wasn't cut off from the party."
This "Christopher moment" happened because one person decided to make a difference by combining business know-how and heart-felt good will. If every individual and every business worked this way, what a huge gift of hope and joy we could bring to our waiting world.
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