Wednesday, May 29, 2013


This past Sunday, we went to an epic Mass at the Basilica of St. Josephat.  Okay, so all Masses are epic - as the Franciscan provincial who was there so mind-blowingly reminded us, the One who placed the stars in the sky makes himself present at every Mass through the hands of the priest.  But this one was of the no-holds-barred, chant-and-polyphony, choking-on-incense variety that hits you in the face with Heaven.

It was particularly special because it was the first Mass of Thanksgiving for a newly ordained priest.  He had apparently been a Franciscan friar serving at the Basilica for many years prior to receiving the priestly calling, and the joy of his parish family at seeing him offer Mass for the first time was palpable.

The priest who gave the homily was elderly and in a wheelchair, apparently as a result of some long-term, chronic illness.  His topic was the sacrificial nature of the priesthood.  He told the story of the time when he was first struggling to accept this illness and was visited by then-Archbishop Dolan in the hospital.  The Archbishop asked him, "Will you offer this up for me?"  This personal request helped him gain perspective on his suffering, and to understand that suffering as a vital part of his vocation as a priest called to participate in a particular way in Christ's sacrifice.

I've felt for a long time a specific prompting to pray for seminarians and for an increase in holy vocations.  At this Mass, I was struck with the realization that my recent health struggles could be part of that prayer.  Archbishop Dolan asked his question on behalf of Christ, and it is the same question asked of me.

This also fits in with my call to live out my feminine vocation, as described in the work of St. Edith Stein and Blessed John Paul II, especially until God chooses to bless me with biological motherhood.  At the end of the Mass of Thanksgiving, the new priest presented his own mother with the maniturgium, the white cloth wrapped around the new priest's hands during the ordination rite to symbolize the burial cloths of Christ.  The priest's mother takes part in the priest's sacrificial self-gift, offering her son much as the Blessed Mother did.  Through the spiritual motherhood that all women are called to, I can offer my own small sacrifice in unity with the men Christ is calling to renew his Church. 

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