Today begins the Novena in preparation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart which this year has particular significance, especially for Carmelites. June 11, 2010, will close the Year of the Priesthood. In honor of this novena, let me give you a little glimpse of how my community spent the evening.
We have a dear, dear priest friend here right now as the Retreat Master for our Postulants, Novices, and Sisters in Temporary Vows who are on retreat. Today is his 80th birthday, so we had to celebrate. Yes, cake, candles, balloons, and all! What do you give on such an occasion? Well, besides many prayers and good wishes, we were delighted to be able to present him with a exquisite pall made by one of our sisters. Father then expressed his gratitude by telling story after story, each one punctuated by exuberant laughter from his Carmelite audience.
But we had a second grace. Our illustrious chaplain celebrates his anniversary of ordination today. A priest once shared with me that often they do not really celebrate their anniversaries, but I can assure you, if you happen to have an ordination anniversary when there is a Carmelite Sister around, I guarantee you there will be a celebration.
So our chaplain was also honored, with all the trimmings, and he too indulged us in a little story time. We have a young priest making his retreat now and he also joined us. I had a hard time telling who laughed harder, Father or the sisters! As one story finished, one of us would call out something like, “Tell the one about the dust buster.” or “Father, tell us about the women at the post office.” Again, more laughter.
All good things must come to an end (at least until Heaven!) and we ended our evening by singing the Salve Regina together. Voices that had just before been joined in laughter united in song, equally jubilant.
Prayer for priests is of primary importance in our community, so as we prepare to close this year, we invoke a special shower of graces upon all priests. May they be ever more untied to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Happy Birthday and Anniversary, dear Fathers!