This past Sunday, my family went to a parish that we are sometimes… required to go to.1 We don’t do it often, and in all honesty a later Sunday Mass with young children is tough. But, we actually enjoy the parish and priests so much, that in a way, it is a nice treat, for the not so nice necessity of attending that particular Mass.
This Sunday, the parish’s pastor was the celebrant. Normally, there is another priest, whom we are quite fond of, that is the evening celebrant. Since he was on vacation this week, the pastor filled in. Both of these priests are polish, and the parish is a polish stronghold in a rather interesting part of the city. The priests are very holy and orthodox.
We have never had the pleasure of having this priest, and as Mass was celebrated he kept referring to the congregation as ‘my beloved.’ At first it was strange, solely because it was so foreign. After a few times, I chalked it up simply to his translation and the fact that english was not his native language. It began to grow on me and I quite liked it.
As Mass was ending and we got to the part where some parishes have a prolonged “Announcements” section, my family was ready to go. The priest began to speak of the parish mergers, realignments, et al that are occurring here in the Archdiocese of Detroit. I was starting to get annoyed, but then I was really drawn to what he was saying. He started talking about the evening Mass, the parishes, the merger, and the people that assist at Mass, especially the late evening Mass. He talked about how those people tirelessly give up their Sunday evenings to make sure the Mass is available to those who need an evening Mass – for whatever reason.
His sincerity and authenticity gushed and rang true in his words. It made me then recall what happened prior to Mass. One of my children needed to use the restroom just prior to Mass (of course!). As we were walking towards them, we saw the priest and he smiled and said something to my child which I recall as something to the effect of… “Well hello my beloved dear, so glad to see you!” I dont know if that is exactly what he said, because I was frustrated that we were heading out of Mass just as it started, and that the priest we liked so much wasn’t there. But I do know he said… “beloved.”
As I left Mass I realized that as a priest stands in the place of Christ so many times in our lives as Catholics, the term beloved, especially when pronounced in a thick polish accent Beh-love-ed, is awesome! It feels as if it is exactly how Christ sees us. It also made me think about how I need to act, towards my beloved.
- It is the local parish with the late Mass in the evening. [↩]