10/10/11

Friends across the Lord's Table

Holy Family Parish: Dupont World Media

This weekend and last, I've had joyful pleasure of reconnecting with some old friends.

Just a week ago Mike and Judy, from Maryland, were in Boston celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and came to Sunday morning Mass here at Holy Family. And today, Dick and Mary, driving cross country from their California home to visit their Massachusetts families, were in Concord for Mass on the Lord's Day.

I've known Judy and Mike for some 30 years and Dick and I were high school classmates ('65) but I've only seen these folks for a few brief moments over the intervening decades.  It's a gift to be with people you've not seen for ages but with whom you still have the capacity to "pick up where you left off"  -- allowing, of course, for catching up on details larger and smaller.

I shared with both couples what a joy it is for me when old friends and family members are here in my parish for Mass.  Were I to visit these couples where they live they'd want to show me their home, have me meet their extended family and have dinner at their dining room table.  Well, it's a little different for a priest.  I'm not a cook and I'd need to do some serious clearing of table tops in order for anyone to sit down for a meal in my house. And my family consists of some 1,300 households!  But that's fine with me because the place and the people I most want to share with visiting family and friends, the home and the people I want them to see and meet, are at church, at Sunday Eucharist at the Lord's Table.  Mass on the Lord's Day is the most important part of my week and to share that prayer and experience with people I love but don't often see is one of the joys of my life and of my ministry.

When I'm standing at the altar and see friends from the past across the table, it's as though a thread is drawn through all the years and pulled just tight enough to connect me not only with the good old days but with all the years that have passed since then.  With Mike and Judy I found myself reconnected with my nine years at St. Ann University Parish and campus ministry at Northeastern University and Emerson College.  With Dick and Mary I found myself reconnected to those high school days when thoughts of being a priest first stirred in my heart.

In something of the same manner, there are times when I'm preparing the gifts at the altar or praying Jesus' words when I sense myself and the people I'm praying with connected with two millennia of Christians gathered at the Lord's Table to do what Christ asked of us on the night before he died...

It's a joy to see how God's grace has traced the path I've walked since my own youth and how that path follows the road trod by centuries of believers...

The pleasure of having such visitors two weekends in a row was a gift of God and an opportunity for me to share with them, and now with you, what's in my heart of hearts.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Mike and Judy, Dick and Mary - thanks so much for your visit: you made my day!


 

   
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4 comments:

Fran said...

Glad that you had such great visits with friends!

Rosie Delacruz said...

Such beautiful sharing of reuniting with friends!

Reading this reminds me of the story you once shared about your decision to become a priest.

You mentioned a classmate, I think, who inspired you to become a Catholic priest. I thought her name was Judy. Is this THE Judy who spurred you? Or was it another person?

In any case, I am rejoicing in your happiness!

Austin Fleming said...

Rosie, you're thinking of Kathy who was a high school classmate. Judy and Mike were NU students, parishioners at St. Ann's and close friends of Frank F.

Anonymous said...

I love going to mass at HF because I feel like I am at home with family. I am glad that you feel as connected as we do. Sometimes I would think that since it is your "jpb" that maybe those feelings might be farther down and harder to reach. I say this and then realize though that when I am at work teaching there are many times I feel blessed and connected - other days not so much, but that mostly has to do with the buisiness and political side of things.

Teacher