Fr. Stephen Kenyon, parochial vicar of Shepherd of the Valley Parish in Central Point, blesses altar servers before midnight Latin Mass at the parish. (Marc Salvatore/Catholic Sentinel)
Fr. Stephen Kenyon, parochial vicar of Shepherd of the Valley Parish in Central Point, blesses altar servers before midnight Latin Mass at the parish. (Marc Salvatore/Catholic Sentinel)
CENTRAL POINT — On Christmas Eve at Shepherd of the Valley Parish here, the main lights of the church were turned down, candles flickered on the altar and worshippers held candles in their pews.

“When I raised the chalice, I could see reflected in the gold a dark church scattered with lights,” recalled Father Stephen Kenyon, parochial vicar of Shepherd of the Valley. “Perhaps it was much like the starry night sky that hung over Bethlehem the night our Savior was born.”

The sung Latin Mass, with Gregorian chant, was attended by about 120 people — spaced out following health guidelines — and began with a procession during which Father Kenyon placed a baby Jesus figurine in the manger.

The reality that God was born a little child and placed in a humble manger, is “a mystery our minds struggle to even begin to grasp,” said Father Kenyon. “But the Nativity scene makes that incomprehensible mystery somehow tangible: We can see with our own eyes a child laid in a manger. God made man; the word made flesh.”

The priest said that after such a tumultuous year, it was “an extraordinary blessing to be able to celebrate Christmas Mass with our people.”

He said at Easter the church had felt so empty. It was painful to preach to a camera as people watched from home. “It was like Lent had not ended yet,” he said. But then for Christmas, with the faithful safely gathered, “you could feel the joy.”