Tuesday, January 1, 2013

“The Most Beautiful Mass I’ve Ever Seen”

My head was tired, my eyes bloodshot—from work, not partying. I never expected my heart to fill.

This morning’s Mass at my parish church in honor of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, took me completely by surprise. My 80-ish friend Carrie noted at the end, “That was the most beautiful Mass I’ve ever seen.” While my Catholic experience falls 75 years short of hers, I’ll chime in with a loud Amen.

Matthew at CMR called this feast day “the toughest holy day of obligation for a lot of people.” I feel sorry for those in our parish who didn’t tough it out. My office being directly across the street made it hard to miss.

Most beautiful was what our pastor, Father Barnes, called the “cast of characters” on display. Our associate pastor, Father Chateau, and permanent deacon Michael Joens having served elsewhere, the sanctuary was nonetheless filled with men in white. They were:

Our pastor and a concelebrating priest, Fr. Reed Mungovan, home for the holidays from his work as a novice master near Milwaukee. Between them stood permanent deacon Tom McDonald, currently studying in Rome and soon to be ordained a priest. Deacon Tom proclaimed the Gospel and delivered a stellar homily without notes on why Catholics revere Mary.

Across the sanctuary from priests and deacon were three seminarians: Tom Lyman and Brian Cullen are students at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton. Craig Cooley is in his final year as a college seminarian and is set to begin theology studies at St. John’s in the fall. Craig and Brian did the first and second readings, and both were clear, strong, impressive.

Anyone who wonders about the future of vocations in the Catholic Church needed only see these young men today at St. Mary Star of the Sea. Father Barnes, just past 40, was the oldest of the six; Craig, about 20, the youngest.

Father Barnes joked before the final blessing that one of the other five would likely be his boss someday. I’m sure all six of them know who’s really the Boss.

Thank you, men, for making New Year’s Day and this Solemnity such an inspiration!

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