Monday, May 23, 2016

Prayers Answered

Yesterday we arrived at church a little bit later than we usually do for noon Mass.  We weren’t late, but the parking lot seemed especially crowded.   Since we has gone to Mass at a different parish last week, we hadn’t seen the bulletin or heard the announcements.  We didn’t know if anything special was going on.

Apparently there was.

We were each handed programs as we walked into church.  We glanced down at them and smiled.  One of our own, now Fr. John,  had been ordained to the priesthood just the day before.  We were about to celebrate his first Mass with him.
I don’t know how other parishes acknowledge the first Mass of one of their own, but at ours it is a Big Deal.  The full choir was there as well as the Knights of Columbus, in full formal dress complete with swords.  There was incense and loads of flowers and extra altar servers.  Our Pastor and both of our Deacons participated as well as about a dozen visiting priests, all of whom were in some way influential in Fr. John’s discernment, formation, and education.

Before Mass started there was an almost palpable feeling of joy, of great anticipation.  Even the littlest of kids seemed to recognize something amazing was about to happen. 
Once Mass started people prayed more energetically and sang louder than maybe they ever had.  What a privilege it was to be the first congregation to respond And with your Spirit to Fr. John!

While giving his first sermon, about the Trinity and love, Fr. John got a bit choked up.  That's okay, he wasn't the only one.  He almost skipped the creed and went straight to the Prayers of the Faithful.  A little nudge from the Pastor got him back on track.  Nerves!

 Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon Lord,
And where there's doubt, true faith in you.
 Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there's despair in life let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there's sadness, ever joy.

During the Sign of Peace, the priests on the altar appeared to share a special happiness.  There was joy in having a new member in their midst.

I am the bread of life
He who comes to me shall not hunger
He who believes in me shall not thirst
No one can come to me
Unless the father beckons
And I will raise you up
On the last day.
It was amusing to watch sixteen priests try to figure out where to go to distribute communion.  After all, they are all used to being in the primary spot.  Thank goodness for bossy deacons.

And holy is your name through all generations!
Everlasting is your mercy to the people you have chosen,
and holy is your name.

For nearly thirty years our parish has had a simple tradition.  After the closing song, no one leaves.  Instead, we kneel down and pray a Hail Mary for vocations.

Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners 
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

We saw the fruits of these prayers yesterday in a most tangible way.  In addition to the ordination of Fr. John, we have three more young men in formation in the seminary.

Our prayers have been answered.



  1. Oh, what a beautiful Mass!!! Congratulations on Fr. John's ordination! Our Archdiocese's ordination is this Saturday and I think there are seven men being ordained. So exciting! Thank you for linking to the Holy Is Your Name hymn. That song almost always brings me to tears and it has been awhile since I heard it. It was a gift to hear it tonight. :) That song was our after communion song at our wedding. Fitting I thought as we were married on the Feast of the Visitation.

    Thank God for Holy Priests and new vocations!!

  2. Our new priests were ordained on Pentecost, and have until July 1, when their first assignments start to do masses of "Thanksgiving" so the parish they came from, where they have been assigned during formation years, and parishes that have prayed for them, etc. Our seminarians spend the summers interning at parishes to get an idea of how other priests juggle it all. Most of the new priests have every weekend filled from now to July with masses of Thanksgiving.

  3. I have only been to one "first Mass". I've known his family for many, many years. I had even taken this man's senior photos when he graduated from high school. It was a beautiful day. There were so many priests there to celebrate with him. No K of C, though. :) So glad you happened upon such a special event.
    I love that your parish stays to say a Hail Mary for vocations at the end of Mass.

  4. First Masses are so wonderful!! We went to a friend's ordination in CA last year and he celebrated his first Mass at the parish he had been at since a child. It was so moving - and you got the sense that everyone wanted to break into applause at the consecration! So special to celebrate that with your church family.

  5. That is so awesome! I actually went to a mass at a convent nearby and the mass was a nun taking her vows of chastity. It was such an aspiring service and I felt blessed to be there.