ECENTLY, I ATTENDED the ordination and first Mass of Thanksgiving of a friend of mine. It was a weekend filled with great joy and zeal and hope. The Church’s liturgy is always powerful, but, for such occasions as these, the wonder of it all often seems more palpable. This was especially true during the homily at the Mass of Thanksgiving, which my friend celebrated and preached.
It was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, and he was preaching about the incomprehensibility of God’s love for us. To demonstrate how awesome this love is, the newly minted priest shared a quote from our Pope Emeritus. On the occasion of the Inauguration of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI said this:
“Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. . . . There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God’s joy which longs to break into the world.”
In the middle of this quote, my friend had to stop. It was a very pregnant—about eight months—pause. After nearly a full minute of gathering himself, he continued. This wasn’t a moment of flashy drama or trite histrionics. It was a moment in which he communicated and the entire congregation intuited that this preacher had, in fact, personally experienced the profound love about which he was preaching. It seemed, to me, most appropriate. After all, the love of God is ineffable—literally, unspeakable.
Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day on which we specially consider the Lord’s love and tender compassion. I love this feast day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, though, if every day we could be moved to tears by the enormity of God’s love for us?
As the newly ordained priest paused during his homily, I was reminded of St. John Vianney’s insight that “priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.” If that is so, my friend is off to a good start!