This week, I am reproducing words from the service booklet that has been prepared for this afternoon’s service, Alice’s First Eucharist as Priest and President.
The first time a newly ordained priest presides at the Eucharist is a precious moment for that priest and for the Church. Traditionally known as a ‘First Mass’, this celebration marks both a beginning and a continuation. It is a continuation of a journey began long ago, when God created Alice and in that very act of creation called her to be a priest, a journey that carried on through the years of discernment, discovery and delight that have led her to this moment. It is also a continuation of a ministry well begun in a local parish context where Alice has served faithfully as a Deacon for the last year and more.
But a ‘First Mass’ is also a beginning, the start of a new phase in Alice’s ministry, one in which the sacraments of the church now take centre stage. This, here and now, is what God always had in mind. This, in this place and in our midst, is what everything has so far been leading towards.
This celebration also traditionally involves the ministry of ‘First Blessings’. By God’s ordaining, Alice now has the authority to give God’s blessing.
Alice has chosen the following quotation from St John Chrysostom’s homily on the sixth chapter of St John’s gospel as a reflection on this remarkable day.
‘Truly awe-inspiring are the mysteries of the Church; truly awesome her altar. A fountain sprang out of paradise, sending forth tangible streams; a fountain arises from this table, sending forth spiritual streams. Beside this fountain there have grown, not fruitless willows, but trees which reach heaven itself, with fruit ever in season and incorrupt… This fountain is the fountain of light, shedding abundant rays of truth. Beside it Powers from on high have taken their stand, gazing on the beauty of the streams, since they perceive more clearly than we the power of what lies before us and its unapproachable flashing rays.’
May God bless Alice richly this weekend and in her ministry in the years to come, and may God bless you all,