From the Pastor: His Second First Mass!
Last Sunday Fr. Pierre Dorvil, the priest in charge of the Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission, celebrated his first Traditional Latin Mass here at Epiphany! I loved the description he used during his sermon, that this was his second First Mass. The First Mass of a priest is a very special Mass. Excitement mixes with nervousness. Joy and happiness and exuberance mark his entire countenance. None of his preparation for this celebration, neither his philosophy classes nor his theology classes, not his practicums nor “dry” Masses, not even his prayer(!) could possibly make him truly comprehend the magnificent gift God bestowed upon him just hours earlier at his ordination and which he was going to use for its ultimate end as he was about to offer back to God the gift of His Son’s Holy Sacrifice on the Cross. The new priest tries to comport himself and asks, “Am I not prepared? Of course I am. Yet, ABSOLUTELY NOT!” To stand in Persona Christi at his first Mass without dying of love shows how much grace God gives to the priest by not allowing him to fully comprehend what he is about to do! Still, at his first Mass, the priest embraces the Love of Jesus, that love shown while being crucified, to an extent that boggles the mind and expands the soul. Father Dorvil celebrated his First Mass in 1984. It was a Novus Ordo Mass, of course, and it was incredible beyond rational explanation. Yet here he was, nearly 4 decades later, after celebrating countless Masses, and he was celebrating just like he was newly ordained. This second First Mass was a Solemn High Mass in the 1962 Rite. Although the Novus Ordo Mass is the Mass which he fell in love with and which brought him into the priesthood, and although the differences between the “old Mass” and the “new Mass” are usually downplayed as if they are inconsequential, even to the point of officially calling them two forms of the same Rite rather than giving them their due by calling them two distinct Rites, priests who start in the Novus Ordo and then learn the Traditional Latin Mass can—and do—know better! This is why his first Solemn High Mass (TLM) could be such an important celebration as to put it on par with this very first Mass so many years ago. It was as important a Mass (not that each and every Mass in every Rite is not of infinite importance!) as his very first one! It took much preparation, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It evoked all of the fruits of the Holy Ghost as were first experienced oh, so many years ago as this holy priest, when he, with his newly acquired indelible mark of the priesthood, stood at the altar, his hands virtually glistening with the chrism oil with which his bishop had recently anointed them for this mission, brought the Sacrifice of Salvation to the present, bringing Heaven to Earth, and coalescing time and space within a single point, the point of Forgiveness; of Reparation; of Perfect Sacrificial Love. He was, in a manner of speaking, now being “born again” as a priest and he named it as such! A second First Mass! What a blessing it was for me (and, I hope, for you) to have been present to witness such a marvelous occurrence.
Now that he has celebrated his first one, expect to see him quite often (when his pastoral duties allow) offer the Holy Mass. He is planning on celebrating daily Masses in the TLM as well as the occasional Sunday Mass. But Wait! There’s More! We have another local priest who has been preparing to celebrate his second First Mass as well! I have already announced it to many of you but I hesitate to put his name in the bulletin beforehand out of an abundance of caution. There are still many priests and bishops who, were they to get a sniff of a priest embracing Tradition, would put up so many roadblocks as to make it impossible for that priest to celebrate a TLM. That’s just the way it is. If all goes as planned, he will celebrate the TLM next month and then the cone of silence can be lifted.
Finally, Josh Heiman, one of our home-grown seminarians still preparing for his first First Mass (which is still too many years away!), has been with us for a few weeks, acting as subdeacon for the Solemn Masses and praying for all of you, his friends, family, and benefactors, is leaving us Tuesday morning to return to the seminary. He is studying for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, whose members use no Rite except the Traditional Latin Rite. He will probably have to wait for his second First Mass until he is able to celebrate a Pontifical Solemn Mass as a holy Bishop! Please keep him in your prayers as he continues his studies. If he becomes even half as holy as Fr. Dorvil, he will be still twice as holy as me and will be a priest worthy of the call. Be sure to wish him farewell and Godspeed before he leaves, and don’t forget to pray for him as he returns to his studies. May Our Lady keep him and all our young priests- and sisters-to-be under her protective mantle during their formation.
We certainly are blessed with graces from Heaven around here, and you, the Faithful parishioners, are showing what God wants to do, and obviously can do, with any individuals and families ready to become Saints. Keep up the good work!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka