I have no song to share today, just an experience I can’t keep to myself.
It seems like just yesterday I was all excited about my son serving his first mass as an altar boy. This past weekend, my wife and I watched him, as a second theology seminarian, serving at our archdiocesan ordination ceremony and at the first masses of two close friends who have become dear to us as well.
As we celebrated our friends and caught a glimpse into our own future, it was delightful to see the personalities of these young men come out as they said their first masses.
I have often thought one of them has a musical personality. His exuberance, ready smile, and unflappable good humor is just…musical to me. That impression proved true at the consecration, when he chanted the words of consecration upon the host and into the chalice. It was an absolutely beautiful moment and something I had never seen before.
Our other friend said what we felt was an exceptionally flawless mass for a so-called “baby priest.” My wife asked him later if he had been nervous, he said no, crediting his seminary practicums formator. We later found out that he also spent a good deal of time practicing; that desire for precision is as much like him as the above-mentioned young man’s contagious joy is his hallmark.
Each of these new priests paused his first mass just before the dismissal for the lovely tradition of presenting Mom with the maniturgium, the cloth with which the excess chrism is wiped from a priest’s hands after they are anointed, and Dad with the stole the newly anointed priest wore when hearing his first confession.
That’s the moment that stopped my wife and me in our tracks. What about our son’s first mass will uniquely reflect him? What must it be like to watch your son confect the Eucharist and then have him gift you a liturgical item that will accompany you to the grave and, as tradition says, to the gates of heaven?
We’ve watched it happen for other parents but the thought of one day experiencing it ourselves is…humbling, to say the least. If the last few years before ordination pass as quickly as the past couple of decades, we’ll know very soon.
To every parent who recently saw a son ascend to the altar as a priest, congratulations!