|my community of priests in Cincinnati - Father John, Father Matthew, yours truly, Father Daniel, and Father James|
Dear Family and Friends,
There’s an old piece of advice given to priests: “Celebrate this mass as if it were your first mass, as if it were your last mass, as if it were your only mass.”
Thinking back to my first mass almost a year ago, I can say I certainly was filled with fervor. But it sure took a lot of faith - faith to believe that the host actually became Jesus in my hands.
Let me explain.
Before - when the priest was up there on the altar and I was in the pews – it had been easy to believe.
But you’re the one celebrating mass, you know that you’re just little old you, and that the day before you couldn’t have done the least bit of what you’re doing today. You think, “Wow Lord, you can even use someone like me to work a miracle this big?”
That’s the funny thing. I had thought it would be the opposite. I had imagined I’d have lots of fervor and faith at my first mass, and then from there on out it would be a battle to keep from getting distracted and falling into routine.
Certainly, even in these first months I’ve found it’s easy to become distracted or lose fervor – just the same as before when I was in the pews and not at the altar. But all in all, my awe and love for the mass has just grown. It’s like I discover something new every day. It could be the beautiful wording of the preface of martyrs, or the prayer the priest quietly prays before communion, or when it finally dawns on you that countless angels and saints are present at each mass, even when you’re alone. It could be grasping what saying “this is my body” really means, or just realizing how tremendously good God is to have left us himself in the Eucharist.
What a gift to have been a priest these 11 months! Originally I only asked God for one day as a priest, enough to celebrate one mass. So every day after that has just been a bonus.
Yes, we priests do need to celebrate every mass as if it were our first, as if it were our last, as if it were our only mass. And if God gives us the grace to say another, what a gift!
May He bless you, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
PS- I’ll be heading to Rome in early December on pilgrimage. We’ll be there for my one year anniversary as a priest. If you have any intentions you’d like me to pray for while I’m there, send them my way!