Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
St. Dominic's Parish - Holton, Kansas
1st Mass of Thanksgiving of newly ordained Fr. Danny Schmitz
26 May 2013
Year of Faith
We rejoice today with Danny because in him we see someone who has heard the call of Jesus to follow him in such a perfect and powerful way, that 2000 years after the Lord's Ascension, a man like Danny can decide to drop everything and follow this call. How is this possible? Every vocation is an improbable miracle. We all know Danny could be 1000 places besides here, be doing a 1000 things other than this. How did this happen? Every vocation, every falling in love, even with God, is an improbable miracle. Things could have easily have gone a different way. Danny told the vocation director and bishop he would give it a year! Now the joke is on him!! Not really, Danny is receiving a life so much bigger and better, and yes, harder, than he can imagine on the day of his first Mass. He is receiving an amazing gift. But how? How can Danny hear accurately and give himself with such confidence 2000 years after the Ascension? Is he nuts? No, as we hear clearly from today's Gospel, it it through the sure and perfect action of the Holy Spirit that Danny has accurately heard the voice of Jesus, just as surely as it was spoken to those first Apostles years ago. As we heard in the Gospel, the Holy Spirit will speak to us what he hears, for the Holy Spirit is the interpreter of the conversation had between the Father and the Son. Jesus said that he would call through his Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit would take from what belongs to Jesus and declare it to us. So no, Danny is not nuts! He has heard the will of the Father, and the call of Jesus, through the action of the Holy Spirit. Danny's vocation story is a trinitarian story - it is his relationship with each person of the Holy Trinity, whose mystery we celebrate today, that has brought him to the priesthood and to his first Mass.
That same Holy Spirit that changed Danny into a priest yesterday, will be invoked by Danny himself to change the ordinary elements of bread and wine into the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. This is Danny's sublime and intimate and most perfect duty as a priest, to say the words that change reality, and to say the words that make Christ fully and perfectly present, if yet mysteriously and hidden, through the Holy Eucharist. Danny will pray to the Father with the Son in the Holy Spirit each time he presides at Mass. He will do this thousands of times as a priest. Despite his rich theological training of 6 years, and his two Masters degrees, Danny would be the first to admit that he can not even begin to explain the mystery of the Trinity, and would not even know the slightest bit about it, had the Holy Trinity not revealed himself to us. Yet as a priest Danny will express something more important than deductive intellectual knowledge of the Trinity, of which he has a bit - he will express that the Trinity is not the kind of mystery like a crossword puzzle we are to solve - it is a relationship that we are invited to be at the very heart of. Danny will demonstrate, especially in his prayer at Mass, that without trying to eliminate the mystery of who God is, the mystery is not inaccessible, but something we are invited to experience personally. Danny's celebration of Mass, then, is never something joblike or mechanical . . it is something deeply personal to him, a reflection of the most intimate relationships of his life - his relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to which we are all invited.
Danny, as a priest your crowning virtue will be zeal for souls, a desire to bring persons into full relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You will do this in a world that is losing touch with the definition of what a human person is, let alone the sublime dignity that we have as children of God. Indeed, the future of humanity, and the destiny of souls, rest precisely in the personhood that has its origin and perfection in the Trinity. For we are persons insofar as we are known and loved and desired by other persons, and this is so true of the Holy Trinity that the persons share a common life, the same nature. That is why we call God love . . . because at his core he is an intimate exchange between persons. Yet our vocation is the same - to become persons through the depth of our love - and this is precisely how you will save souls, Fr. Danny, by helping each soul in your care to realize their destiny to love according to Christ's commandment - to love one another as he has first loved us! Your own prayer and relationship with the Trinity that grounds your personhood, and now your priesthood, should inspire you confidently to believe in the people you will serve, that they to can become the persons that God has destined them to be.
Our prayers and affections are with you Fr. Danny, and they are yours throughout each day of your priestly life, for we are proud of you, and inspired by your sacrifice and generosity in serving our beloved Church. Serve us well, Fr. Danny, and say a good first Mass! But even if you don't, we'll give you another chance! May God bless you in every way, our dear brother and friend, and our beloved priest! Amen!