June 27-29 of 2014 was a whirlwind of a weekend for me, but it was so wonderful because it was that Friday that I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ. I was exceedingly thankful to God for all the graces poured out. I had been given so many personal graces of peace and joy that it was easy (and a magnification of these graces) to be present to each person who I spent time with that weekend. This included being present to each of the hundreds of people who lined up to receive a personal blessing from me.
So many waited in line for my blessing because of the beautiful Catholic tradition to receive a personal blessing and kiss the hands of the priest while the you can still smell the Chrism on them. Most certainly there is a special grace received in receiving this blessing and it is also a wonderful way to thank God that He continues to make himself present to us through the Sacraments at the hands of His priests.
It was wonderful to speak for a moment with each person followed by the blessing. Being present to that moment made each of our joy overflow and made us aware of God’s presence in that time immediately after my ordination. I, and each of those people, was really present to God and therefore to each other.
This stands in juxtaposition to a conversation I had at my new parish. They told me that when a certain prelate visited the parish, he was shaking everyone’s hand after Mass while looking and talking to someone else. In other words, he was NOT present to those he was greeting! He was doing an act that is supposed to say, “I am present to you,” but clearly, he was just going through the motions. Even though he was a priest and bishop, he was not present, did not have composure.
It is very tempting for us to enter into Mass the same way. We forget to be present to the King of the Universe, who makes Himself humbly present in the tabernacle and in the Holy Mass. We are thinking about other things then where we are and what we are doing.
We need to make a conscious choice to be present to God, to have composure. To genuflect purposefully, the make the sign of the cross thoughtfully and prayerfully, to kneel reverently, to unite our prayers inwardly to Christ’s and the Church’s during the Eucharistic Prayer. To recognize inwardly that we are in the presence of Almighty God, whom we love. It is only then that we can really begin to assist at Holy Mass, that we can reap the joy and life God wants desperately (to the point of dying!) to pour out on us.
God bless you!