Icing on Jesus’ Birthday Cake
By Mary Bruno
Chris and I had just moved to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain and were experiencing a lot of firsts, like most couples do when getting situated in a new town. I met the pharmacist at our local grocery store and was surprisingly pleased at how kind he was; we discovered the trace and the beautiful nature sprouting from its trail; and we encountered a little bit of heaven on earth at our first “Midnight Mass” at Our Lady of the Lake Church (OLL).
We were unfamiliar with the churches in Mandeville at the time and ended up at OLL because it was nearby. Midnight Mass on Christmas had been sort of a tradition for us, and we didn’t have our daughter yet, so it seemed practical to give it a try at our new location.
When the time came, we walked into the beautifully decorated church and spotted the perfect pew to get comfortable in for the next hour and a half. As we sat and awaited Mass to begin, our ears were graced with the most delightful Christmas carols. It wasn’t just any Christmas music. The people in this choir sounded like professionals. This was another pleasant Northshore surprise.
Eventually, it was time for the carols to die down so the priest procession could begin. After a few minutes of silence, the lights shot on and the most incredible trumpet sounds, deep rolling drums, crisp organ music and heavenly voices echoed through the loft to announce the birth of Jesus. Chris and I instantly turned, amazed, to fix our eyes on the orchestra producing such heavenly sounds. We were speechless.
It is no secret that heaven meets earth during each celebration of the Mass. Chris and I discussed later that this music allowed us to actually feel heaven’s presence like never before.
We just happened to be seated on the aisle which gave us a perfect view of the altar, and I will never forget my gaze on the poinsettias, as I was nearly brought to tears. I had never heard something like this in person and was struck by the fact that it occurs every year in our own backyard.
Our Lady of the Lake offers its “Midnight Mass” at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, so it’s not completely out of the question to attend, even if you live on the south shore. It is absolutely worth the experience.
We have found it to be so impactful, that we continue to bring our young daughter to it each year.
No matter what the music at any Mass delivers, Christ’s presence in the Eucharist will always be the most treasured part. Music that allows us to enter into this great sacrifice is just icing on Jesus’ birthday cake.
Spot on Mary! My 9 year old son and I experienced the tremendous intro last year at the OLL midnight Mass. He is begging me to share this experience again tonight! Definitely a beautiful expression of our gifts to celebrate Jesus’s arrival!