I watched Steve place his forehead on his folded hands, his body flat on the cool concrete floor. The priests were in white, the Bishop was seated in his chair before the alter. Janet’s six year old daughter leans over and whispers, “Mama, what he is doing?” And Janet whispers back, “He’s dying to himself.”
There was a porthole from Heaven to Earth during that mass, well, there is one every mass, but the presence was so strong during the Ordination. I thought, “Maybe if I just jump toward the alter the divine presence would just lift me right there, a total assumption.” I was brought to tears of joy constantly. Oh, how good and refreshing it is to have a range of emotions being the fragile creatures we are to have “tears of joy,” I had realized how much I had been longing for that one. And excitement…yes, that is another, during certain moments of the mass it was like my heart nearly burst out of my body from excitement. All I could do to avoid such a scene was place my fist firmly against my chest over my heart, Thump thump!” I try to collect myself.
The incense climbed to heaven. We lifted our voices in the litany of Saints. My imagination goes wild with every blessed name we sing out, the saint lifts their head at the sound of their name. “Oh…you are asking for my prayers? Yes my friends, I will offer my prayers for you.” They are not all solemn and stoned face like their pious laminated devotional cards might depict them. They are warm and joyous, with huge grins on their faces and beaming! Oh how we were all singing! My friend Rebekah, a beautiful soprano, was leading us, a handful of weeks away from having twin boys. I felt her voice bring the hairs on my arms to attention, I know her boys were penetrated to their very cores as their angels whisper to them in the womb “Mama.”
I could have burst into flames from shear anticipation, “Oh this is going to be good!” as I watched the twelve priests in white with the Deacons and the newest Deacon Steve preparing to offer Mass, to offer what is most pleasing to the wild Almighty Father. They file down together around the alter (we have a more modern alter set up, post to follow someday) and stand in their white, candles glowing. The Bishop says, “And now with all the angels and saints let us sign our unending hymn of praise….” And the “Holy! Holy! Holy Lord…” ripped through the sanctuary. There were only about 100 human beings present at the mass, not enough to fill a quarter of the building, but believe me, the place was packed!
I rode that divine high through the next day when the realities of my own vocation were getting a bit trying. Sippy cups, diapers, dishes, crumbs, clutter...I found myself returning to an image, this time it was me… flat on the kitchen floor, face down, my forehead placed on my folded hands…dying to self.