remembered from the First Holy Mass

24 Jun


(1) The first memory is that it was almost always referred to as Holy Mass, Sleman’s First Holy Mass. (2) His vestment was lovely and splendidly him and his spirituality and spiritual nature. On the back a large image of the Sacred Heart, and on the front a same-sized image of the Blessed Mother. It was made for him and given to him as a gift from the Rosary Sisters. His aunt had been a Rosary Sister and died just months ago, having wanted to see this day. (3) He is left-handed, putting the incense in the thurible with his left hand. (4) My, oh my. He has a very capable and pleasing singing voice. As he first began chanting the sign of the cross, one knew that this man will reverently and capably sing the Mass. (5) In the Profession of Faith for more than the usual moment, I lingered on the statement of faith about the “catholic” church: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy “catholic” church. In this moment it felt “wholly” Catholic. (6) Before Mass, the First Holy Mass, that is, his friend and benefactor from Austria, a Knight of some sort or other, and I were amusing each other how each of us could not believe that we were present for this moment. I teasingly pinched his arm, “See, you are awake, You are not dreaming.” During Mass, the Austrian was sitting in the front row; I was in the sanctuary seated near Sleman, separated only by the deacon and Feras. I caught the Austrian’s eye and dramatically pinched my own arm. He smiled broadly from the front row. (7) The whole liturgy, as is every liturgical over here, was what most of us would describe as chaotic: multiple videographers and flash photographers walking back and forth, this way and that, up and back, crossing in front of people and walking right in front of everyone. Ministers at the altar moved about sometimes taking care of some duty, with seemingly no regard for what was going on, even walking in front of the person speaking or even crossing in front of the ambo during a reading and putting papers on the ambo as the preacher is reading his text. It was all, in our “western, American, everything has its moment and everything in its place” mentality, it was very distracting. But no one else seemed to be distracted at all. The preacher just kept moving along. ( 8) At the end of the First Holy Mass Abuna Sleman went to the ambo and spoke at length. I heard, “Shukran, shukran, shukran,” as he went through his mentions of thanks. The Austrian, the British Father Kevin and I perked up when we heard, “A warm welcome to my dear friends.” (9) And lastly, a couple times during Mass, it crossed my mind, as it probably crossed no one else’s mind who was present, or probably never crosses anyone else’s mind at all, but it came to my mind that a good caption for a photo of this man in this moment, a very handsome man, with a perfectly pretty face and a killer smile, smart and accomplished, with a lovely singing voice, with a sense of reverence and awe for life, with an obvious soul for God and a heart for family and service , “And the young, single women of the village wept.” Wept for joy, of course.

2 Responses to “remembered from the First Holy Mass”

  1. Hannes Marcel Bichler June 26, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    Dear Rob, the “Austrian” has enjoyed to meet you, my friend! Two great and blessed days for all of us!

    • Father Rob Waller June 27, 2013 at 6:25 am #

      And the “American” has enjoyed the meeting and the moments as well.

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