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Finally, I appreciate what I do as a celebrant
on November 12, 2011
I have been a Priest for 47 years. I love celebrating Mass, but it can sometimes be a bit humdrum after so many thousands of celebrations. Dr. Sri opens my mind and heart to the richness of the Mass that I was never taught in all my theological formation which includes a Doctor of Ministry degree.
Most priests I talk with are disgusted with the idea of a new, more correct translation of the Roman Missal Third Edition. If they were to read Sri's Biblical Walk... they would change their minds. So much griping about such an "insignificant" thing as changing: "And with you" to "And with your spirit" becomes a point of major insight and challenge to me as a Priest celebrant. It becomes not a cliche response but a real challenge for me as celebrant to know who I represent and what I have the privilege to do. Sri points out that it is the peoples way of saying that I am going to do the most sacred action I can possibly do and I had better do it in such a way as that I truly take the place of Jesus doing it. I need God's Spirit, oh how I need it to celebrate Mass in the person of Christ Himself. No more rattling off words without much, if any, thought as to what the celebrant is saying; no more "saying Mass" instead of "praying the Mass." My spirit needs all of the Spirit it can get and this response reminds me of that. And I like it that it is the people who are reminding me of that every time they say it to me. If I really hear their response it seems to me that they are telling me to be genuine or it would be better not to continue the celebration--yet they do it in a kind and loving way.
This book has driven me to my knees to ask God to help me love and understand my role as celebrant at least half as much as does the "layman" Dr. Sri. Next to the Bible itself, I cannot remember a book that has challenged me more or inspired me more than a Biblical Walk Through the Mass. I am forever grateful to Dr. Sri and his insights to every word I pray when I celebrate Mass. Surely Sri demands a great deal of me as a celebrant of a Mass, but he so inspires me that taking time to really prepare for offering the Mass and pray every word of the Mass with knowledge and awe changed my approach to each Mass I will ever offer.
I once heard Dr. Scott Hahn say that "any man who says he would not want to be a priest simply does not understand the priesthood." I thought that was a bad over statement. After reading this book by Dr. Sri I understand finally what Dr. Hahn was saying and I can agree with him. The problem is that I think too many of my brother Priests have lost sight of what it is to be a true priest, an "Alter Christus" another Christ. It is a much more demanding role than we may want to play and it is more about who we are and what we are able to do in, with and through Christ than all the business we can get caught up with and think we are just a super-duper hard working priest. The priesthood is about being holy in a particular and unique way. Reading this book takes our focus back to some fundamentals that may have gotten lost in our efforts to always doing instead of always being. A huge difference in reality.