Nerves, Grace and Awe: Priests Reflect on their First Mass

This week, as we approach the Diaconate and Priesthood Ordinations, we reflect on the beauty of the priest’s first Mass.

By: Erin Healy

Father Noah Morey first Mass 6.7.2015 CREDIT Spiering Photography (2)
 Image courtesy Spiering Photography

“It was very moving to stand in the Person of Christ, offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the first time, surrounded by so many members of my own family and my parish family. I will remember that grace-filled day for the rest of my life.”

“I was really nervous at my first Mass. It was not due to fear of making a mistake, but rather the awe that God would use me as an instrument of so great a gift.”

“The experience of the ordination and first Mass was like seeing my life pass before my eyes.  Those who were instrumental across the years, and especially during my time of priestly formation, gathered in one place for a grace-filled weekend.  Through their experiences, I could see how the hand of God had guided me to that moment.”

“My first Mass was the moment when I was finally doing what I was made for.”

These are just a few reflections from our recently ordained priests in the Diocese of Arlington when recalling the experience of celebrating their first Mass.

As someone who has attended several first Masses — both intentionally and inadvertently — there is a great beauty in being present as the newly ordained priest, chalice in hands, prays the words of Consecration. I remember a particular experience that has stayed with me for many years:

Just before the Final Blessing, the newly ordained priest walked from the altar over to his mother who was sitting in the front pew. She stood and he placed a white cloth in her hands. He quickly explained that this particular cloth was called a manutergium, and it was used at his ordination to wipe the excess Chrism from his hands after they were anointed by the bishop.  Traditionally, he explained, this cloth is given to the mother of a priest, as well as placed in her hands upon her death. Then, at her judgement, she is to present this cloth to Our Lord. It is a symbol of the great honor and sacrifice it is to have borne a son who is a priest. I can still picture the tears welling in both of their eyes as the cloth was passed from his hands into hers.

This is just one of many stories I could share.

Whether you know the newly ordained priest or not, I encourage you to attend a first Mass this year. Not only do you have the opportunity to obtain a plenary indulgence, but as you read in the reflections above, it is a tremendous gift of spiritual support to our priests.

The first Mass of Reverend Mr. Colin Davis is at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, June 12 at St. Veronica Catholic Church, in Chantilly.

The first Mass of Reverend Mr. Joseph Rampino is at 12 p.m. on Sunday, June 12 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, in Annandale.

For more information about the 2016 Diaconate and Priesthood Ordinations, click here.

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