Every Christmas Eve, I would see one of my husband’s friends, Daniel (not his real name), attending the Christmas Eve Mass at our parish church with his sons. All of his Catholic friends attend Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. But I was always puzzled at the fact that Daniel is neither a Catholic nor a Protestant. He is not even a Hindu. He could be classified as an unbeliever. When asked why he comes to Mass every Christmas, he simply says, “to honour Jesus because I admire him” or something to that effect. He just wants to celebrate with everyone. And he feels comfortable doing that as he knows that no one from the Catholic church will ask him why he is there. Except me! And that’s only because we knew each other from Lion's Club.
In the last Australian Bureau of Statistics census (2011), people who chose the option “no religion” on their census form were the second largest group of people (22%), after Catholics (25%) and Anglicans (17%) who responded to the question on religion. So far, no known data has been collected if any of those who declare no religion actually still go to church on Christmas day in Australia.
Among the 1,000 Americans polled by LifeWay Research (Nashville) last September, six out of 10 Americans typically attend church at Christmastime. They also found that “even among the ‘nones’ (people with no religious identity), nearly three in 10 (29 percent) had plans to go to church.”
“Many of those church-going nones, an umbrella term for atheists and for people who say they believe ‘nothing in particular’ — also named Jesus as their primary reason for attending in the holiday season (47 percent).”
If you consider yourself one of those who profess ‘no religion’ and you feel that you want to do something on Christmas day, feel free to attend Mass at any of the Catholic churches near you. I will not be in that church to ask you why you are there! But, in the spirit of Christmas, as Christians honour Jesus, everyone there will be nice and happy to see you!
If you are a Catholic, please invite someone who is neither a Catholic Christian nor a Protestant Christian to join you and your family at your local church celebrations on Christmas day. Someone out there could be just waiting for your invitation.