THE OLD AND THE NEW

          This weekend we are marking and celebrating two events that are at the opposite ends of the chronological spectrum.   Saturday morning was a reunion Mass for alumnae of Convent of Mercy school; this morning at 11:00 Mass we welcome our 2nd graders to receive our Lord in the Eucharist for the first time.

         The reunion/homecoming Mass is ostensibly a recognition of the 50th anniversary graduation class, but alumnae from all graduation years are welcomed.  There is a particularly poignant moment during the liturgy—when candles are lit and brought forward to remember those members of that particular class who have since died and are now involved in a different (and far more blessed) homecoming:  the full, sit-down, multi-course, unending wedding feast of the Lamb, rather than the simple “hors d’oeuvres” that is the Eucharist.  “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb” (our Eucharistic liturgy, alluding to Revelation 19:9).  I will add, parenthetically, that many more of them are likely to show up for the post-Mass brunch than will actually be at the Mass!

          In a way I can and cannot empathize with a Mass like this.  I was happy to celebrate, a couple of years ago, my 25th anniversary of ordination.  Friends and family from all over were here, and Our Savior parish made it a memorable and joy-filled weekend.  But this year is also my 50th anniversary of graduation from high school, and I have no desire to return there for any festivities.  I’ve been detached for too long, and I do not have an inclination to re-attach (even if only for a day or two).  Many of the Convent of Mercy alumnae are different; they have remained in Mobile and are glad to reunite regularly.  God love them!

          Our young people are a different story, of course.  This year, for reasons unknown, our class is only four children, and this is why their First Eucharist is being celebrated at a Sunday Mass rather than a special one on Saturday morning.  But I have interviewed them, and I can guarantee that they are excited.  I try to imagine if any of the children would celebrate the 50th anniversary of their First Eucharist the way the Convent of Mercy alumnae celebrate their graduation anniversary…

          Our children are fired up; are we?  How many times have we approached the altar of the Lord with less than intent hearts and minds?  We are susceptible to many distractions:  our children’s diaper needs an emergency change; a storm suddenly erupts outside; we remember, too late, that our tithing envelope is still in the car; we don’t like that particular hymn; we haven’t been to Confession; we’ve become “Routine Ralphs/Ritas” that operate on auto-pilot.  But if we took even a few seconds to recollect what (and Whom) we are about to encounter, and why He wants to encounter us, what a difference that would make in our own ability to be fired up!  Trust me:  our recent RCIA class (now known as “neophytes,” or “newbies”) have NO trouble being fired up…

          So we celebrate this weekend signposts of beginning and of heading to the end.  God’s love in Jesus Christ is there for us all, regardless of where we are on our journey (and honestly, none of us knows exactly where we are, anyway).  Let’s be prepared; let’s be focused; let’s be fired up by the Lord’s incredible love