Mass at Mt. Irenaeus today was a very intimate experience. There were only about ten people there including the celebrant Fr. Louis McCormick, OFM. New Years Day is probably not a time when many people attend church. The Friars of Holy Peace Friary at Mt. Irenaeus had invited us to join them for Mass this morning and so I made the forty minute ride from my home to Holy Peace Chapel. I always enjoy my ride to the Mountain. I have a chance to sit quietly and most of the time there is a prayer in my heart if not on my lips. Today I was thinking about the quote from St. Isaac about silence. I was thinking of the relationship between silence and my own conception of God. I thought of how much silence is gradually taking more and more of my life. I long for silence and peace of solitude and that is what continues to draw me to Mt. Irenaeus as well as other places of silence and prayer.
Today, Fr. Lou asked me to read the second reading. I had read the Mass before I went to bed last night. The first reading was actually my favorite today but someone else had already been assigned that task. I read the word from Galatians and then returned to my seat in the chapel. Fr. Lou read the Gospel and then gave a short homily about the significance of the shepherds as outcasts being the first to welcome Jesus. The shepherds were viewed as ceremonially unclean and yet those closest to the earth who perform occupations like shepherds are in fact usually the closest to God. The Gospel of Jesus is really about the world turned upside down. Born to a virgin in a stable far from the trappings of power and prestige. The messiah came into the world not in power and glory but with the least and the lowest and most of the time those were the people most open to his message. It’s still true today. Those most receptive to the message of Jesus are the outcasts, the beggars, the drunks, the harlots.
Following Mass and some refreshments I was asked to share some of my Secular Franciscan journey with a young man in search of such a calling. I told him to follow his heart and that it would lead him to where he was to serve. I told him I fought my calling at nearly every step of the journey. If I ever get to heaven it will not be because of some virtue, but merely because I have backed away from hell.