Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Thursday

Helen Danis
Holy Thursday is the day we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood.  I praise God that I have had a great desire for the Holy Eucharist and the mass for almost all of my life.

I woke up this morning thinking of Helen Danis, the mother of my best friend in grade school. Helen was a daily communicant, although when I first met her, I didn't know the language of "daily communicant." I just knew that Mrs. Danis came to mass every day at 12:30 pm when her daughter Susie and I were playing on the playground of St. Albert the Great Catholic Church and School in Kettering, Ohio.

Seeing Mrs. Danis pull up in the parking lot each day for mass, sparked something within me. I remember several times, following her in and sitting in the back of church. Funny to think of that now, I just wandered off the playground and into church. No teacher knew or missed me. Mass was shorter than our playground time I guess, so I just went back to the playground when mass was over.

Of course my beloved parents took us to mass every single Sunday of our lives. We sat in the front row so we could "see what was going on." Those were deep, deep seeds planted in my heart. The witness of both my Father and Mother dressed up and happy to go to mass.
Playground at St. Albert circa 1970s, school building to left, church to right
In 1978 I began attending Archbishop Alter High School. Fr. "T" Meyer offered a really early morning 15 minute mass. I remember going occasionally and thinking 'how could he get a whole mass in in such a short time?' If I remember correctly school started at 8 am and the mass was before that.

In 1985-86, my college roommate Peggy Duffy invited me to go to noon mass at the University of Dayton chapel. It was such a great respite in the middle of classes and my part time job.

In my early 20s I lost my love of the mass, or should I say, I found a love of sleep. Sunday mornings seemed like a better time to sleep that go to mass. What a shame. I regret those wasted years.
St. Raphael Catholic Church, St. Petersburg, FL

Our first child, Bobby re-enkindled that desire for the Mass. As a 6 month old infant, I felt compelled to take him to daily mass during Lent. Then when he started kindergarten at St. Raphael Catholic School in 1997, I noticed they had a daily 8 am mass, just 10 minutes after the start of his school day at 7:50.  I made the best confession of my life and confessed the mortal sin of all those masses missed and have, through God's grace experienced Jesus's real presence, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion almost every day since. Praise God.

And so as we reflect on the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood (without whom no mass could be offered) I thank God for His mercy and grace on this Holy Thursday. I also thank Him for my parents, Mrs. Danis, Peggy Duffy, my children and all those who throughout the years gave me a good example, invited me to join them and acted as conduits of God's merciful love. 

Please go to mass on these high holy days. If you've been away, make a good confession and Go. Your Creator, Master, Sanctifier and Lord are waiting for you.