Dom Benedict’s First Solemn Mass

VitralHere is the text of the homily I preached this morning at the First Solemn Mass of our dear Dom Benedict Maria Andersen in Saint Kevin’s Church, Dublin. Dom Benedict was ordained a priest, yesterday,  1 November 2014, on the feast of All Saints.

« Everything, O Lord, is at thy disposal, none can thwart thy will ». (Esther 13:9)

God’s Unsearchable Providence

Dom Benedict, dearest son in Christ, as you ascended to the altar for this, your first solemn offering of the Most Holy Sacrifice, the Church placed on our lips the mysterious words of Mardochai in the book of Esther: « Everything, O Lord, is at thy disposal, none can thwart thy will » (Introit, Esther 13:9). Indeed, it must be said, with Saint Paul, that, « We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints » (Romans 8:28). If you have ascended to the altar this morning, it is because, in God’s mysterious plan for your life, in His unsearchable providence, in His will that cannot be thwarted, you were born for the altar, and destined for the altar from your mother’s womb. You were born for the altar, and destined for the altar from your mother’s womb. The Apostle says, « It pleased Him, who set me apart from my mother’ s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me » (Galatians 1:15).

For This Was I Born

If you have ascended to the altar today, it is because the Father, who set you apart from your mother’s womb, called you by grace to be a living revelation of His Son, a true image, a veritable icon of His Son engraved and written indelibly in your soul by the the Holy Ghost, the Finger of God’s Right Hand, and this, in the midst of the Church, in the sight of angels and of men. You will ascend to the altar again and again — may God, the Father of Lights, grant you this ineffable grace for many, many years to come — and each time you do so, you will do well to say in your heart, « For this was I born, and for this came I into the world » (John 18:37). « I shall go up unto the altar of God, to God who giveth joy to my youth » (Psalm 42:4).

Sacrificer, Victim, and Mediator

You, Dom Benedict, are set apart to be, not only the image of Jesus Christ, the Father’s well–beloved Son — such is the grace of all the baptized — you are set apart to be, in your very person, the image of Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim; Jesus Christ, the Sacrificer and the Lamb sacrificed; Jesus Christ, the Mediator who stands between God and man, saying to God, « Here, Father, are Thy children, here is the Body of Thy Christ », and saying to men, « Here is your God ».

The Holy Prophet Job

You prayed in the second collect of this Holy Mass: « not for any deserts of my own, but because thy mercy knows no bounds, thou hast appointed me to serve Thy heavenly Mysteries, make Thou me a worthy minister of Thy sacred altars, and let the words I utter be hallowed and ratified by Thee. » Dearest Father Benedict, you begin today the exercise of your priestly office. Today, for the first time, you appear before us as a living icon of the Eternal High Priest, who, lifted high upon the altar of the Cross, makes of Himself a Victim immolated and offered to the Father. In a few moments we will intone the Offertory Antiphon of today’s Mass, which, by a singular coincidence, is the occasion of a cameo appearance of the holy prophet Job. Job appears at the Offertory of the Mass today as an ante–type of the suffering Christ. We will sing of Job and in him recognize a veiled presentation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, « the man of sorrows, acquainted with suffering » (Isaias 53:3).

Suffering Not an Obstacle to Your Priesthood

If suffering has, in any way, marked your life, dear Father Benedict, it is because it was essential that you should be thus prepared for the mystery of the victimal priesthood. It is written concerning Our Lord Jesus Christ: « And whereas indeed he was the Son of God, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered: And being consummated, he became, to all that obey him, the cause of eternal salvation, called by God a high priest according to the order of Melchisedech » (Hebrews 5:8–10). Recall this when, in the years of priestly service that lie ahead of you, you will find yourself buffeted by temptation, surrounded by obscurity, and marked by infirmity. Suffering is not an obstacle to your priesthood; it is, rather, an essential part of it, a participation in the immolation  of the Lamb that, day after day, you will make present at the altar. Yours it is to be not only the priest who offers, but also the victim offered.

In the Heart of the Church

All of this the Father will make divinely fruitful.  Although yours is a monastic priesthood, hidden and shrouded in silence, it is a priesthood in the heart of the Church and for the whole Church, a priesthood whose effect touches the very ends of the earth, and causes the radiance of the Blood of Christ to shine from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof, making hope spring up in the hearts of the hopeless, and opening streams of joy in this valley of tears.

The Mother of God

In order that your priesthood may be protected, confirmed, and inflamed with Divine Love of the Sacred Heart, I entrust you to the all–pure Mother of God. She who accompanied her Priest–Son to the altar of the Cross is with you, at the altar, today. May she be for you today and until the hour of your death, your life, your sweetness, and your hope.

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