My father died four years ago yesterday, and I've had a very hard time dragging myself into church since his funeral mass...but it's not the Church that has the problem, it's me. The contrast between the way my father lived and died and the way I've conducted my life does not reflect well on me and the choices I've made, and at the risk of sounding like Uriah Heep, I feel exceptionally unworthy at this time of year. It's hard for me to get all fired up about the holiday, and not because I have a problem with what others condemn as the "commercial" aspect of Christmas. As far as I'm concerned, if people want to express their love and affection for others by going out and buying them presents, that's fine with me, so long as they remember the reason for the season, as it were. It's nice to see things all lit up and the traditional decorations put up on buildings and in cube farms everywhere, even if my Jansenist (that 's Puritan to you Protestants) tendencies make me reluctant to indulge in the same thing at home.
Still, there is something about the holidays that I find depressing. Maybe it's God telling me I need to get off my butt and get right with Him, regardless of how ugly and modernistic His local parish might be. As my father said once when I complained to him about the hideous Folk Masses I was forced to attend as a teenager, "The bodywork may be different, but it's still the same car on the inside." Maybe so, but I still prefer the simple wooden chapel I grew up with, and the traditional hymns from the Armed Forces Missal, even if most of them were really Protestant hymns. It seems harder to get close to God in those big, featureless multi-purpose rooms bereft of statuary and icons, so bare of any indication that one is in a real church, but I think I'm just fishing for excuses again.
And the ibuprofen is wearing off. Time to take some Tylenol and go home.