People ask me: "How will you spend Christmas?" I always
answer: "In the slums." And sometimes I add: "You are always assured of one of
the best liturgies in the world." This past Christmas (2001) I was in Mukuru Kwa
Njenga in Nairobi, Kenya, the place I say has the best Mass in the world because
of the powerful and joyful singing of about 1000 people. I mean they make sure
that the two" hours they are in Mass will be a happy diversion from their
otherwise hard life.
I arrived about 40 minutes early so I put the altar chair
in front of the crib to rest there. I had midnight mass for our Little Sisters
of St. Francis where I live, and I only got a few hours of sleep. A big speaker
was blaring Christmas hymns. Nevertheless, I felt relaxed and dozed off. I
jolted awake. "Where am I?" "Oh, of course, I’m in front of the crib." But
there was a little angel dressed in a pretty pink dress with matching bonnet
leaning against my knees and fingering my hands. She was about 18 months old.
She had big exploring eyes and brilliant white teeth. She saw a little sore on
my chin and reached out to explore that. I whispered to her: "So you see my
Shortly she made an effort to climb on my lap, so I
lifted her up. Her complexion was like smooth velvet. She immediately removed
my glasses and was interested in my eyes. And ears. She explored both. At
times she would just rest her head against my chest, the top of her head in the
hollow of my neck. Then, she would raise up to explore my eyes and ears again.
I told Mary in the crib: "You have your baby and I have mine. What a precious
Christmas gift you have given to me." I was in heaven for about 15 minutes. As
time for Mass drew close, I was wondering how I would get out of this. Just
then, her older sister came and whisked her away as if she was bothering me. I
was on cloud nine for the rest of the mass.