Personal Musings: November 2006 Archives

A Wonderful Day

| | Comments (1)


I offered Holy Mass in thanksgiving for my twenty years of priesthood today, gathering with family and friends in the little church of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross in Branford, Connecticut. Apart from the readings and the homily, Mass was sung in Latin from the 2002 Missale Romanum. . . all part of the hermeneutic of continuity. At the Offertory, my mother and father presented the gifts of bread and wine.

The nuns of the monastery were present, of course, together with Mother Véronique, their Prioress General from France. The Apostles of the Sacred Heart, good friends that they are, were also there.

My brother Terence (The Dog Trainer) with his wife Sandy and the two children Michael Colin (3 years) and Mary Elizabeth (1 year) drove down from New Hampshire. Terence and Michael came to church while little Mary stayed at home with Sandy who is expecting another little gift of God. Michael Colin seemed to appreciate the golden thurible with bells on it! Michael and Kerry Guidone were there with recently baptized Michael Mario who slept blissfully through the whole Mass.

Father John F. Ringley together with Ann Marie and Victoria were there to lead the singing — all out of the Graduale Romanum! They sang the complete Propers, Ordinary IX, Cum jubilo (a little tribute to Our Lady), and the splendid and rarely sung Credo VI.

So many other dear friends from near and far came to be with me today. Barbara and Katie, ever faithful friends, drove down from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I am very grateful to God and to each one. After Mass we gathered in the monastery meeting hall for cranberry nut bread and sherry. Later on in the day, my sister Donna and her husband Wayne together with Sean and Lauren, my "senior" nephew and niece, joined us. Some of us shared an exquisite dinner at New Haven's most delightful Italian restaurant: Skappo.

Thanksgiving: A Papistical Approach

| | Comments (4)


Being a Papist and not a Puritan, I have always felt somewhat ambiguous about the Thanksgiving holiday . . . not about the domestic observance of Thanksgiving, but about the attempt to interpret it liturgically. The Thanksgiving holiday originated in the sacramental void of Protestantism. When one silences the Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro of the Mass, one necessarily begins to look for something to put in its place. This, I think, is why it is so difficult to catholicize the American Thanksgiving holiday. It feels foreign to the Catholic ethos.

This year Thanksgiving squeezes out Pope Saint Clement I and Saint Columban. I suppose the best pastoral solution is to offer the Mass given in the Roman Missal under the title "In Thanksgiving to God." That is something I am perfectly willing to do. The nuns I serve as chaplain are very keen on having proper readings. So be it. I choose my battles. But I will miss preaching on the magnificent page of The Apocalypse appointed in the Lectionary.

One of the nicer things about Thanksgiving is that it always occurs on a Thursday. This does open the door to the Cenacle and to the mystery of the Eucharist. It does rather call for a catechesis on Holy Mass as the Great Sacrifice of Thanksgiving offered from the rising of the sun to its setting. So inspired, I will take a thoroughly papistical approach to this Protestant holiday.

I do cherish the Thanksgiving dinner lovingly prepared by Mom and the blessing pronounced by Dad. I do enjoy being with my family. It's like having a big Italian Catholic Sunday Dinner on Thursday. But I'll never be a Puritan.


| | Comments (1)


I borrowed the logo from my brother Terence's dog training business for this entry because I don't have a photo of Dulcie (named for a Barbara Pym character). Dulcie, my parents' 8 year old American Pit Bull Terrier spent the past four days with me while my folks were in Baltimore. She is the gentlest, sweetest dog I have ever known. Dulcie greets me with an affectionate lick as soon as I wake up. She sits quietly under my desk while I work at the computer and rests at my side while I say my prayers. While I am at the monastery celebrating Holy Mass she waits patiently for me in the car. Dulcie also expresses joy (or some comparable doggy emotion) with a great glorious howl of glee. More priests should have dogs. They keep one human and grounded. N.B. Santa Croce in Gerusalemme has two dogs: Morris and . . . Bernardo, of course.

Visit of the The Webmaster

| | Comments (2)


As I was teaching my weekly liturgy class to the nuns of the monastery and their friends this morning, I glanced out the window and saw a tall, bearded gentleman making his way into the church. Holy Mass began — the feast of Saint Gertrude the Great and my 20th anniversary of priesthood — and I sensed a certain connection with the gentleman in question. After Holy Mass, various folks lingered to greet me. When the mystery visitor approached, I said, "And you are?" The answer came with broad smile: "Your webmaster!" He added in French, Les belles âmes se retrouvent!

Richard Chonak, the gracious architect of this blog made the trip down from Boston to join me at Holy Mass today. I was thrilled to meet Richard at last. After Mass we went to one of my favourite New Haven restaurants, Caffè Bravo on Orange Street, for lunch. What a perfect way to celebrate this 20th anniversary. Thank you, Richard, for adding the joy of your company to the other joys of this day!

The Trip

| | Comments (0)



My brother Terence, his wife Sandy, and their two children Michael Colin (3 years old) and Mary Elizabeth (20 months) just returned from a family holiday in Costa Rica. Terence rang me to let me know that they had arrived home safely after a thirteen hour trip. Little Michael was eager to give me details of his adventures. Part of our conversation went like this:

Michael Colin — I wish you had come to Costa Rica on the airplane with us, Uncle Mark.
Uncle Mark — Oh, thank you, Michael. What a nice thought!
Michael Colin — Butcha didn't, Uncle Mark.

From what I understand, one of the highlights of the trip was swinging through the trees of the jungle on a cable. There was also lots of time to play in the water. I look forward to seeing Terence, Sandy, and the children at Thanksgiving time. And I want to hear Michael Colin tell me more about his experiences.

Twenty Years and Twenty Mysteries

| | Comments (4)


On November 16th, I will celebrate the 20th anniversary of my ordination to the holy priesthood. I was ordained on the feast of Saint Gertrude the Great, the Cistercian–Benedictine mystic of the sacred liturgy and of the Heart of Jesus. In 1986 I prepared for my ordination by reading Blessed Abbot Marmion's Christ, the Ideal of the Priest, a classic that continues to inspire me.

These twenty years of priesthood appear to me related to the twenty Mysteries of the Holy Rosary: joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious. There have been joys, lights, and sorrows in my priesthood, but all in anticipation of the glory promised by Christ and given already in the sacramental foretaste of the Eucharist!

I will be celebrating Holy Mass in thanksgiving for the graces of these twenty years on Sunday, November 26th, the Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, at 11:00 a.m. in the church of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross where I serve as chaplain.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory