Just in time for Christmas, two final big jobs at parishes throughout the Archdiocese have largely come to completion.

If it’s not easy for a family to bring out boxes of Christmas decorations from storage, buy and display a Christmas tree and decorate the house, imagine the task of decorating a room as large as a church.

The work of transforming a church into spectacular finery to set the right atmosphere for worship of God often falls to a group of parish volunteers. At Christmas especially, what a marvelous job they do: poinsettias, evergreens, lights and of course, a cherished nativity scene, all arranged tastefully by the selfless heroes of parish life. {{more}}

The other big job concluding this week stems from a small tree that many parishes have displayed in their church throughout Advent. Sometimes called a giving tree, it began the first week of Advent filled with tags for items to be given to people in need. Parishioners took a tag or two then placed the wrapped item under the tree.

The big job by parish volunteers this week is to transport the gifts to local social service agencies, women’s shelters, retirement communities, convents or directly to needy families and shut-ins of the parish. A typical parish’s giving tree may contain several hundred tags and therefore that many gifts. Multiplied by the majority of parishes in the Archdiocese, the benefit of this tradition of giving to people in need is enormous at this time of year.

When you walk into your church on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning for Mass, say a prayer for the parish volunteers who worked hard to set the tone for joyful worship for their fellow parishioners and visitors. Say a prayer and offer warm wishes to encourage those Catholics who might only visit your church that one day of the year. Say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the blessings that enabled parishioners to reach out and help people in the community.

These prayers and many others culminate in the perfect prayer of the Mass. At Christmas Mass we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, offering Him our prayers and our daily works for the glory of God.

Our celebrations with gifts and meals following Mass may be grand or simple. But at church we share a beautiful spiritual home and join in the Eucharistic sacrifice as heavenly food for all. Our life in Christ through His Church remains the most precious gift, and the source of joy to the world.