Sunday, August 22, 2010

Portrait of a First Mass

A joyful tear or two trickled down my cheek as I watched them process. Quickly dabbed away and dealt with. "Understandable," I whispered to myself. People cry at Nuptial Masses all the time, it's the same thing, right? One little unconstrained tear is easily forgiven. After all, we were so delighted for him, for his family, for his community of brothers. He kept his eyes cast down, nervously perhaps, although those who have walked that aisle or stood at it's front waiting to receive the veiled love approaching can understand the multitude of feelings that keep the eyes cast down towards the carpet. Complete confidence emanated from those who have been down this road before, standing watchful behind him, the abbot on his left, the bishop on his right, and all of his brother priests encircling him. He beamed as he fulfilled his vocation on the altar before us, this transformed Alter Christus. We basked in the radiant glow. I will dwell among the children of Israel forever. (Ezekiel 43: 7)

Fr. Bernard gave the homily, as per the young celebrant's request, and in it he noted some similarities between himself and the young man. Both Benjamins of the family, they understood the value of patiently waiting. Father's homily, which was thoughtful, instructive and engaging as always, concluded with a special request. He shared with us his memory of the last time he was in Vienna, standing over the grave in the monastery cemetery behind the apse where the priest who preached at his ordination waited below the cold earth for the Resurrection. He whispered a prayer for his soul and asked for the same consideration one day from this young man. All hope at modest tissue dabbing was lost. The dam breaks and freely flow the salty drops. Beauty such as this isn't just admired, it moves in the depths of your soul.

Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from Heaven. (Psalm 85: 11)

Arrayed in white and gold he was positively gleaming. At his side stood the one ordained 13 years ago when my oldest leaped in the womb at his first blessing. He positioned himself close by, supportively pointing the next black line of text out to him, nudging him in the right direction of the red text and whispering encouragement and reassurance. On the other side, a younger brother wore the diagonal stole of a deacon newly on his shoulder, matching the radiant vestments of the one celebrating his first Mass; a foreshadowing that brought a smile to the corner of our mouths. From a junior brother to a senior brother to now a junior father.

...whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matt. 23: 12)

Afterwards, Father gave his first blessing to the bishop, his brother priests and everyone following in line behind them. Like a young groom at his wedding, sustenance was being forced at him from all directions so that he wouldn't pass out from exhaustion. His mother flitted so proudly sharing little details of his ordination that others hadn't witnessed. His papa stood chest out, grinning widely, eyes sparkling. We enjoyed every minute of this special occasion with our friends; disobedient tears of felicity and all.



  1. Beautiful post and thank you for sharing with us. I would have been bawling my eyes out! No photos? We will keep these wonderful priests in our prayers.

  2. Tiffany,
    No. No pictures. The abbey has a professional photographer that takes pictures during these special celebrations.

  3. You know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words? Your words were worth a thousand pictures! Thank you for sharing something so joyful.

  4. beautiful, and yes, it truly is like a wedding.

  5. What a neat way to capture a special day. God willing my younger brother will be ordained in two years. I can only hope to capture it so eloquently. And what a great gift to give to your children--to see what may await them if God calls them to a religious life (boys of course).


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!