From the Pastor: Happy Father’s Day, Father Soares!
Last Sunday we were blessed to have the newly ordained Father Noel Soares, of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, preach our two Sunday morning Masses. He also celebrated the 10:30 Mass, the second “First Mass” of a priest we have had in this parish in the years I have been here. The last one was in 2015 when Father/Canon Jean-Baptiste Commins of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, was first ordained. His parents and siblings were attending Epiphany at the time (they have since moved back to France) so we got him for at least the one special Mass. I expect we will see plenty more First Masses from the young men of our parish currently in their various seminaries as well as from many more who have yet to answer God’s call due to age or other temporarily interfering circumstances. Father Soares, after both Masses last Sunday gave his blessing to one and all. These blessings of a newly ordained priest have long been considered special. People kneel to receive the blessing, as is the norm in all Traditional blessings, then the priest presents the palms of his hands and they kiss those beautiful instruments of man’s salvation, a sign of reverence for the hands which a short time ago were covered with the oil of Chrism as the bishop consecrated his hands to perform miracles, naming specifically the Absolution of Sin in the sacrament of Confession and the substantial changing of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those freshly consecrated hands are kissed with devotion, knowing that they perform glorious tasks which are necessary for getting us through this life and into Eternal Life in Heaven.
Although I haven’t found any of Fr. Soares writings online yet, I recently came across a paragraph from the young Canon Commins the year after he was ordained a priest. He wrote:
The Traditional Latin Mass: a love story!
I was 17 when I came to know and appreciate the Traditional Latin Mass. To discern my vocation, and to choose the seminary where to go, my first criterion was: “what is the degree of charity in that community?” between the members themselves, and with the other communities. You might ask yourselves: but what is the link, the relation between Charity and the Latin Mass? If we consider the Eucharist as the best proof of the love of God for us which it is, then we understand that all that covers the mystery of the Presence of Christ, blood, body, soul and divinity, has to be perfectly performed, with gravity, with beauty, with solemnity. The Traditional Liturgy makes clear the adoration of God made flesh, religion of the Incarnation, everything in that Liturgy lifts up our heart and our body to the most transcendent reality. The entire faculties of our human nature are satisfied, filled with the music, the silence, the incense, and the gestures. All our senses are attracted to the beauty of the Liturgy. The Spouse is giving himself to his Wife, our Mother the Church, and in response to that gift, the Church tries to express her love for Him. The Liturgy as the public official prayer of the Church, tries to imitate the eternal liturgy of the angels and of the saints in Heaven. To conclude this short note, let me quote Pope Benedict XVI: Sacred Liturgy transforms our lives of Catholics. Indeed, “the encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes.”
The timing of this is perfect. Today we celebrate the External Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Hopefully, we will do it in the way described by that young priest who once blessed us with his First Mass so that the liturgical celebration helps one and all to fall more deeply in love with God, Who wrote us into his Love Story. God the Father so loved the world that not only did He create it (and us) but He also sent His Son to redeem us when redemption was beyond our grasp. The Son, offering everything for our sakes, suffered and died for our salvation, rose Body and Soul from the dead and ascended into Heaven where, out of “renewed” (if such a thing were possible for Him) eternal love, He continues to intercede for us to this very moment. The Father and the Son, rather than abandoning us to our own devices after this, jointly sent the Holy Spirit to not just dwell with us but to dwell within us, to make our bodies into temples of His Godhead, to make our souls into hospitable dwelling places for His perfect Love. With that Holy Spirit within us we, in a state of grace, are then able to not just communicate with God, but, more than that, to consume God in the form of the Holy Eucharist, that we may, in a mysterious way, become What we eat! The hands of the priest, once consecrated to do God’s saving work on Earth, bring forgiveness, hope, miracles, salvation, and even Love Himself to all men of goodwill, Mystically, if not physically, the amazing aroma of the Chrism still permeates each holy action of the priest, whether he is blessing, absolving, offering his First Mass, his Last Mass, or those in between.
Pray for the men God is calling to be priests, especially those from our own families. We currently have five in various stages of formation in diverse communities and many more who will follow them. The world needs holy priests; loving priests; Saints.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka