Thursday, April 20, 2006

What a gift I received today!

Just before the 4:45 Mass at Saint Francis Chapel, I noticed that the (very tall) Easter candle hadn't been lit. Realizing that the only priest on the premises — and, no doubt, the celebrant — was a very young-but-elderly priest (you know what I mean), I murmured to a friend that somebody should light the Paschal Candle for him.

Quick as a wink, my friend scurried up toward the candle and grabbed that thing that's a combination of snuffer and lighter (what's that thing called, anyway?), just as the priest entered the sanctuary.

A whispered conference — which everybody heard — ensued.

Priest: "This thing doesn't work."
Friend: "We'll make it work."
Priest: "Okay."

A few minutes later...

After discovering that the...thing, after several failed attempts to light the candle, indeed, did not work, priest and friend decided (rather sensibly, in my opinion) to remove the candle from its holder, thereby eliminating the need for the whatever it is.

(I'm not kidding...what do you call that thing that lights tall candles and, when turned around, extinguishes them?)

Problem. The candle was stuck fast in the holder.

By this time, were I in charge, I would've frankly skipped the Paschal Candle lighting altogether. But priest, friend, and a fellow worshipper were of a different mind.

"Lower the candle!"

Somebody in the congregation suggested this, and it worked. Priest and friend gently grabbed the candle holder and lowered it about 90 degrees. From that vantage point, it was relatively easy to light the candle, and then carefully return it to its original position.

(A nearly ecstatic sigh wafted from the congregation at this point.)

And so, Mass was to begin.

As is customary, the priest, after making the Sign of the Cross, announced the intention for today's Mass.

"This Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered for..."

And, incredibly, I heard MY NAME!!!

Not just "Kelly Clark," but my whole name ("Kelly Clark" is just two thirds of my real name...this announcement contained the whole thing!)

I was stunned! Somebody — and I have no idea who – took the trouble to give me the most precious gift...a Mass offered for ME!

I'm still stunned. And grateful beyond words.

Long, long, time ago, Cardinal Law told me that a Mass offered for someone is "a gift beyond price." Since then, I've been delighted to arrange for Masses to be celebrated for people as gifts.

But heck, I always send a card notifying the recipient! (I'm nothing if not an eager-to-receive-thanks sort.)

This gift came as a complete surprise and, although the giver is unknown, believe me...he or she is the recipient of my prayers. I don't know if this is theologically possible or not — I'm just a lady in the pew — but I offered my Mass today to the one who arranged the Sacrifice to be offered for me. (Does this make any sense to you at all? It does to me.)

With God, all things are possible.

So I'm asking you. In your prayers, would you ask God to remember that person who arranged for a Mass to be said for me? He'll know who you're talking about.