Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas, Many Years Ago

A LITTLE Christmas story, as remembered at Saint Stephen's Church, in Richwoods, Missouri:
Father Tammany related how on that one Christmas Eve, while Pastor in Richwoods, he went over to church about 10:30 o'clock at night to stoke up the furnace and get heat in the church for the Midnight Mass. Father Tammany said it was one of the severest winters on record, and as he described it "with snow up to my waist" and "almost too deep for horse and wagon"... After he stoked the furnace, he commenced to get things ready for Mass.

Father Tammany said he wondered, though, if anyone was going to be able to make it through the snow to church, so he went to the front doors of the church to look out at the conditions of the weather and of the snow. As he did, he was later to describe, he saw one of the most beautiful sights he was to remember. The whole valley and the hills, and the roads leading to St. Stephen were filled with little lights -- the lanterns of the families with their children making their way from all directions through the deep snow to be present at Midnight Mass. Some were coming on the roads, some along paths, or through fields. Some looked like they were on horseback, or in wagons, and some appeared to be walking. Father Tammany was deeply moved by the sight. And so he told the story thereafter at almost every Midnight Mass at Little Flower Church while he lived.

Saint Stephen Roman Catholic Church, in Richwoods, Missouri, USA - painting of church

This story is recounted in this painting by Estelle (née Recar) Sellers Rulo, who presented it to St. Stephen parish in 1996.

I recalled this story as I saw big crowds at Midnight Mass, who filled the church despite the cold.


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