There’s a pretty good chance that I am the most blessed(not bless-ed) priest in the world. I am given the privilege of being part of some extraordinary things.
This evening, at one of my two parishes (St. Margaret in Beverly Farms), I had the privilege of concelebrating Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the context of that Mass–offered by Fr. Scott Hurd, Vicar General of the Anglican Ordinariate in the United States and a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC–my friend and brother in the Faith, Jurgen Liias was received into the Catholic Church and Confirmed. The Mass was attended by Anglicans who have been the beneficiaries of Jurgen’s Anglican ministry and by Catholics from all over who packed the church in joyful celebration of Jurgen’s reception into the Catholic Church.
The church was hot as blazes! The homily was beautiful, the music joyful, and the party afterwards was filled with Catholics and Anglicans who were joyful to be together. Something amazing was happening in those moments together.
I’ve really been privileged as a priest. That’s not to say that there haven’t been difficulties. I’d have less to worry about perhaps if I won the Powerball. But, it is so awesome to be in a position where I constantly feel as though God is doing–yet again–something new. Anglican Ordinariate? What? Me? And yet, not because of any creativity on my part but because all of the right people happened to be in the same place at the same time, God is doing something great among us. Will there be growing pains? Sure. But God is doing something here among us.
It is difficult to put into words, but I am so blessed to be part of the growing Church. Anglican Ordinariate, seminarians, converts, parishioners who are just so hungry to become educated in the Faith and grow in the Faith. The party tonight was filled with people–both lifelong Catholics and new Catholics–who are hungry to evangelize and to deepen our friendship in the life of the Church.
One of the seminarians who is from one of my parishes said to me tonight how blessed he feels to be part of our parish. As the pastor, it might seem like I should take that as a compliment. And truth to be told, I kind of do. But more so, I feel the same way he does. How did this all happen to me? How did I get so blessed to witness such amazing things? The seminarians who came from this parish were not born here. They all just somehow came here. The young college students who were at the Mass and reception tonight were not born here. They just somehow came here. All of these Anglicans who showed up on the scene? I didn’t hang a sign that said, “Anglicans Wanted.” Pope Benedict invited them at the exact time that these folks started a church down the street from me. The young and educated Catholics who started showing up here and who are hungering to live the Catholic life in its fullness? How the heck did that happen?
Sound like bragging? It isn’t. It is like Jesus just wants something beautiful to happen and so he keeps blessing us. It is not only here. The other night, I was at a cookout at the seminary and as I drove home, I thought about the priests with whom I have had the privilege of becoming friends. I’m surrounded by these awesome priests. They love God and they love the Church. I take a great pleasure in realizing that among my priestly friends, I am the least among them. I’m surrounded by great priests.
Are we perfect? Far from it. But, do I think that the Lord is doing something extraordinary among us? I’ve no doubt about that. For every little act of obedience we make to the Lord and to the Church, Jesus does something extraordinary for us. I’m surrounded by great lay people, seminarians, and priests. We are so awesomely blessed!
I want to say a bunch of other stuff, but it will send like bragging. But it isn’t! I mean it! I am boasting only in Christ. As the Gospel tonight said, “He has looked upon his lowly servant and from this day, all generations will call me blessed.”
The bottom line is that I’m very blessed to be a priest who has been given everything and then some.