I toyed with the idea of skipping morning Mass today. Good thing I didn’t. As the seven o’clock bell rang, Ferde emerged first from the sacristy, as altar server; then came Dan, the lector. Next was David, a young seminarian who is staying in the rectory for six weeks to start his summer break. Last was our pastor, Father Barnes.
My eyes dropped, but something startled them to attention again. There was a fifth person in the procession! Kwang?! Fully vested?! What was he doing following Father? But of course—as of last Saturday, he’s now Father Kwang! My heart sang, and I could hear others harmonizing with my own. For those 70-80 of us lucky enough to be there, it was another event capturing the vitality of the Catholic Church today.
That Father Kwang Lee, who had been a regular visitor to our parish as seminarian and transitional deacon, was going to say Mass at our church for the first time this Sunday at 10:30 had been announced in advance. There is much excitement about this. It wouldn’t surprise me to find scalpers selling tickets outside our 800-seat church Sunday at 10:20.
I had missed Father Kwang’s ordination because I was in New Jersey for the CL Fraternity Exercises. So to be present at his impromptu first Mass in our church this morning was a great surprise and privilege. As Father Barnes concelebrated, he occasionally turned the pages of the missal, directing Father Kwang to the next paragraph of the liturgy; and you could see the pride and love in Father B’s eyes, as they almost seemed to shout, “Isn’t this cool?!”
It was cool, very cool, and it was all I could do at the end of Mass to withhold applause. While the Mass-goers were discrete enough not to rush the sacristy at the end, about 25 of us stood in the aisles and at the back for minutes afterwards, pumping fists, slapping each on the back—you would have thought the Bruins had won game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
That game takes place tonight. Win or lose, the Bruins will never match the joy of seeing Father Kwang’s first Mass in our church—another kind of joy entirely.