Thursday, February 25, 2010

Into the Breach!

This morning I had the great joy to celebrate mass with the students of St. Laurence O'Toole Catholic School because Fr. James Schumacher took ill and was not able to pray the mass. Last night as I was reading Commonweal I got a knock on my door and Fr. James, looking like death had all but taken hold of him (I'm given to embellishing), asked if I could take the morning mass with the students. The expression "into the breach" may seem misappropriated for such a seemingly simple thing as celebrating a daily mass with Catholic students, but as I was reflecting before mass it really is a remarkable thing to be able to stand "in persona Christi capitis" in the person of Christ as head of his people. Presiding at mass is primarily an awe inspiring service. I can still remember days when all I could dream about was being able to celebrate the Holy Mass during the long eight year exodus through the seminary. It seems so long ago, now that I have been ordained nearly 16 years. This morning I was particularly aware of the gift of being a priest! No one else could have gone in the sacristy this morning and done what I did! The only reason I was able to do so, was that Jesus asked me to become a "fisher of men" (of course both men and women, young and old) and through ordination configured me to Him, by the laying on of hands by a bishop in apostolic succession! It really is no trivial thing to celebrate mass anytime anywhere! Each time it is an encounter with the living God and participation in the salvific power of Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection. What a joy it was to celebrate with the children and to see their faces in wrapped wonder as I described the first reading (Esther C: 12, 14-16, 23-25) and the gospel. To think that God loves each of us and everyone on Earth, that God would call us as individuals and members of His body the Church, that Jesus could teach us, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you..." (Mt. 7:7-12) This is the essence of a vocation! To experience Jesus and to make ourselves so available and vulnerable in trust, that we can dare to say, "Father, let it be done unto me as you have said." The proclamation of this good news is liberating for all of us. I had the privilege of celebrating "Mass on Campus" with our Campus Minister Brian Neely and several others, mostly college age students this afternoon. It's a joy for me to see how the "older kids", as I described them to the grade schoolers, were just as inspiried as the other students to know of God's solicitude. May we always have recourse to the Lord with utter confidence, even in the midst of great trials, let us always be ready to act on God's call. Let us then, "into the breach!"