As I walked up the stairs, I saw a woman I know from the library and realized that I actually hadn't thought about the fact that everyone goes to St. Catherine's and thus I was likely to encounter people who knew me. She ended up being the only one, though.
Upon walking into the sanctuary, I was struck by how much bigger it is than I'm used to. I'm sure European cathedrals put it to shame, but St. Catherine's is definitely bigger than anywhere else I've been. Other than that, it felt less different than I was expecting, though. Being so far from the front of the church was weird, and they had simple wooden crosses tacked up above the paintings between the stained glass windows (which made me think of the deinviting scene in "Passion" [BtVS 2.17]) but whether it's because I've been so many places now or what, it didn't feel any more foreign than anywhere else I've been.
Processional: O Come, All Ye Faithful (sing Latin verse first which meant flashes of Smith Vespers for me; yay)
Liturgy of the Word
Responsorial Psalm 98
John 1:1-18 or 1:1-5, 9-14 [This was chanted, which was weird, though I thought of the explanation sk8eeyore had pointed out to me. And they said "has not overcome" and I thought of you.]
The priest talked about how he'd been here for 6 months and how he grew up in a ranch in Idaho, with lots of work and dirt and horses and chickens and now he's here, with lots of work and dirt, "minus of course the horses and chickens -- for now; I have a plan." (Looking at the Parish Staff page, he's Rev. David A. Shoemaker, Parochial Vicar.)Profession of Faith
He talked about how we have a tendency to overidealize/ovcerspiritualize the Nativity, to look at it as an otherworldly event, and how that kind of distancing is just what God was trying to overcome by coming into the world in the flesh. He said the Incarnation is an assault on idea of escaping the body/world and that all material is made holy by what happens at Christmas. (I was a huge fan up until that last bit, because I dislike the idea that the entire world Fell with Adam and Eve.) He said that with flesh comes pain and how Jesus' coming into the world doesn't mean the end of pain. "Christmas doesn't promise heaven on earth but God in our lives." I was reminded of PB's Christmas Eve talk about relationship rather than religion.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of the Altar and Gifts
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Eucharist Prayer Acclamations
Lord's Prayer [After "deliver us from evil" the priest talked a bunch and then the congregation joined back in. This was very weird to me. I think at St. George they just stopped after that line, and that was weird enough.]
[passing of the peace]
Lamb of God
[I think I could have gone up and no one would have noticed, but they did the Transubstantiation invocation, and Transubstantiation wigs me so I didn't wanna partake, plus I'd already made up my mind not to go up since even though they didn't say anything in the service about who could take Communion -- and the intro to the confessional sounded like all of Christendom -- my understanding has always been that Catholicism is pretty strict about who's "allowed" to take Communion, and while I've willfully broken this in other contexts I've had enough Communion experiences that I didn't feel the need to do it this time; plus, seeing Marie when I came in reminded me that people who know me go here, and that combined with the Transubstantiation invocation made it feel to me like I would be professing a big lie -- that I believe in Transubstantiation, and more generally that I'm Catholic -- if I went up to take Communion.]
The First Noel
Silent Night (10am service sing first verse in German)
While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks
[Before the first hymn, somebody said, "Please join us in singing..." but lots of people weren't singing, and all three hymns were while people were processing up to Communion and back to their seats, so people spent large chunks of time not even in their seats. I dislike when it's unclear whether the congregation is supposed to sing along -- including when I think we're supposed to but nobody else seems to be singing. There are lots of times when I refuse to sing things, but I don't expect most people have my issues, so it's either a lack of clarity in the liturgy or laziness or something else on the part of the congregants, and as someone who's all about intentionality and such, this bugs me a lot.]
Recessional: Joy to the World
It makes me glad that Hannukah began at sundown of Christmas Day this year. Eight days of celebrating miraculous light in the darkness following a celebration of a heavily layered miraculous light in the darkness. And of course Christmas falls mere days after the Winter Solstice -- the longest night of the year, when many celebrate(d) the fact that the darkness would not last forever, that the light would return.
However, as someone who loves the cold (and the snow) I am miffed by all this mild weather we're having. The weather forecaster I heard most recently was all "The cold temps are staying up in Canada, so we just have mild temps; good." Um, hello, it's almost January. If you want mild temps all the time, move to Southern California or something.