It's been a long time since I've turned towards the main celebrant as he enters. Just about everyone around me did. Were they curious about his getup? What's Father wearing tonight? Not the least interested. Apart from the beautiful music, I'm fairly low-church1 but I've made my peace with an increased use of incense, even though I can no longer smell it, and with processions of a sacred text or Holy Communion. So "clothes that make the man" don't turn my head. There was some business about bringing in the infant statue for the creche which was also lost on me.
His homilies are almost always the same, about the sacraments. He went through each one, except matrimony, concluding - like some climax? - with holy orders. I don't know whether his omission of holy matrimony was accidental or intentional.
He also talked about the nativity set in the vestibule. How it had been in storage since 1985 needing repair. How it had been sent to the artisans in Italy several months ago and arrived back just in time for Christmas. I looked it over on the way out. It was very beautiful. Worth the expense? Hard to say. As I was admiring the set, a woman snuck up next to me and withdrew a couple of pieces of straw from the bedding. Our eyes met - I looked bewildered, I'm sure - but she made no explanation.
The very curious thing during the Roman Canon was that the presbyter omitted the variant Communicantes for Christmas:
In union with the whole ChurchI don't know whether this omission is a big deal but I know he said it last year.
we celebrate that night
when Mary without loss of her virginity
gave this world its savior.
We honor Mary, the ever-virgin mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God,
The 2011 calendars available at the back of the church were devoted to the "15 promises of Mary" with which I was wholly unfamiliar. I took a calendar out of curiosity.
Is it ok to pray the rosary without being mindful of these promises? I suppose I'm afraid of these things affecting my motivation.
1 and a cappella is fine, too.