Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Feast of the Immaculate Conception

It's a lovely winter day here, and as ever, I was looking forward to going to Mass. I usually end up going to Mass here on campus, at the Newman Center, and this year that worked out extremely well.

Our parish always has Mass for the holy days, of course, but I rarely attend there aside from Sundays. Why? Simply put, the Mass times. A 5 pm Mass isn't good for me, since I like to be home preparing dinner then. After working during the day, I like to maximize my time at home with Mike and Hank. The 8 am Mass gets me to work too late, and if there is a 7 pm, I'm pooped. If all else failed, I could do the 7 pm, so it's nice to have that option. But being pregnant, I'm pretty tired by then. I'm wanting to be jammied with book in hand at that point of the evening.

So, I end up at the Newman Center. Until this fall, the Newman Center here rented space right on the main part of the campus. It was nice, because I could simply walk there for daily Mass whenever I wanted. Now, they have a brand new facility, but it's fairly far off the main center of buildings. This means that one has to drive there, and on this campus, that's a problem. Why? Because of the parking. Parking is at a premium on this campus, even with a faculty/staff parking tag. Especially in the winter, when the lines become obscured by snow, there is even *less* parking to go around.

It's a worry, and it's why I don't go to daily Mass anymore. I miss it terribly. But on holy days, I just suck it up. I relinquish my prime "got it by 8:30 am" parking spot and say a quick prayer to St. Anthony to help me find a spot when I return. So, that's what I did today.

The drive over to the new Newman Center is very pretty in all seasons. Today, everything glimmered with fluffy snow and looked very fresh. The new building is set in a beautiful spot, tucked away near the edge of campus. It backs up to a small forest, and feels very secluded and peaceful. The facility itself is quite nice. It's very modern, but all very tasteful, and certainly practical for its main use as a spot for the Catholic students to gather and have fellowship. The room where Mass is held is large, and does feel like a "room" if you know what I mean. :) Modern. No pews, plush chairs to sit in, no stained glass. But like I said, it fits with the Newman Center's mission. And the room is smashing. It has tons of windows that look out to the trees in the back and feels airy and calm.

Despite the room's size, any non-Sunday Mass over there garners a smaller crowd than you'd get at your parish. So, it feels very intimate. I just smiled throughout Mass. It felt so nice to be a part of this small Catholic community here at a public university. I'm so glad that I went there today.

Father mentioned that not only is today a Marian feast day, but it is the feast for our country, since our patron is Mary under this title. I had never looked at it that way before. It brought back a happy memory for me of when I visited the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC a few years ago while attending an American Library Association conference. December 8th always brings a smile to my face, and this year was no exception.

Anyway, when I returned to campus, guess what? Parking spot! And in my preferred lot too. St. Anthony comes through again. :)

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