On Tuesday morning I received a phone call. I have never received a phone call like this in 29 years of priesthood. It was a woman from Pittsburgh who was visiting Hershey over the weekend. She attended Mass with us on Sunday at the 11:30 am Mass. If I get a call like that, I usually think, “Uh-oh, what did I say in my homily… or, were we not welcoming enough… or, was the parking horrible…or, or, or…” But to my great delight, she wanted to call and tell us how impressed she was with Mass here at Saint Joan of Arc! She noticed that there were not a whole lot of people coming late for Mass; not many left before the closing hymn; the music was beautiful; there was reverence throughout the Mass (and before); people sang; they seemed engaged; she even liked my homily! The one thing she said that I agreed with completely is that we celebrated Mass as the Church wants us to: nothing more, nothing less! I told her that when I was ordained a priest, I remember Bishop Dattilo telling us young priests that the liturgy is not ours to do with what we want. It belongs to the Church! I can hear him saying in his own inimitable way, “So guys, don’t go changing words or prayers, don’t add your own stuff! Don’t add anything to the Mass and don’t take anything away! If you have options, use them, but always remember the Mass is not your own!” I always have tried to do that in my own priesthood. That is why I like traditional hymns and new music; vestments of all styles as long as they are beautiful and worthy; I like Latin but also love my English language; why I pray the prayers as they are written and try to follow whatever the Church tells me (although I admit to mistakes from ignorance all the time). I just think we need to hear this. We are a good parish, celebrating good liturgy, doing good things for the Lord. We don’t hear this often enough!
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