This past Sunday — June 22 — was a special day for my husband and me. It was our 1-year anniversary of coming into the Catholic Church. This past year has been one of unspeakable joy and amazing grace, as we have learned through practice what it means to be Catholic and what a treasure our faith is to our young family. At so many points in the last 12 months I have noticed God’s attention to detail, as significant events seem to have been punctuated by artistic expressions of His grace. Sunday was no different.
Not only was it extremely fitting to be sitting in weekend mass on this special day, but it was even more beautiful because that day was the first mass of our parish’s own Father Christopher Seith, who had been ordained in the Washington Archdiocese just the day before. Every detail of the mass was so special, done according to traditions that set the occasion apart. There was incense, special robes were worn, most of the mass was chanted, and several priests from the parish and co-seminarians celebrated the mass along with Fr. Seith. There were tears in the eyes of some parishioners — ones who had undoubtably watched Fr. Seith grow from childhood and prayed for him as he discerned God’s call to the priesthood. I can imagine what a blessing it was to those people in the congregation, as they were about to receive communion from the freshly anointed hands of their new priest.
As I half-knelt in my pew — my sweet baby sleeping peacefully on me in the carrier — during the Eucharistic blessing, I found my own eyes filling with tears. How special. How beautiful. I thought, God, the detail of your love is overwhelming! I was already filled with joy at being in mass today and remembering that first mass for our family one year ago. I am so touched that today would be the first mass of a young priest, and that the imagery such an event entailed would so poetically mirror my own conversion and first time at the Eucharistic table.
But God is good that way. He gives us the markers and signposts we need, and then he gives us more to bless us with his love. In response to such blessing, I would offer up a prayer for all priests. In fact, I think that in years going forward I will not be able to think about my “Catholic anniversary” without thinking of and praying for our priests. Pray with me, and pray for our priests whenever God brings them to your mind:
“O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep your priests within the shelter of your Most Sacred Heart, where none can touch them. Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch your Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips, daily tinged with your Precious Blood. Keep pure and unworldly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood. Let Your Holy Love surround and protect them from the world’s harmful ideas and practices. Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here, and their everlasting crown in the hereafter. Amen.” ~ St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus