Earlier this morning, we (that is, the Knoxville Paulists) stood on the porch of our house and waved goodbye to my predecessor as pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, as he headed north with all his worldly goods to assume the ministry of Paulist Director of the Newman Center in Columbus, Ohio. A few minutes later, with a lot less fanfare, I packed up some things and got into the car that as of today has become mine and drove the short distance to the church that I am now pastor of. Now I am sitting in my office, surrounded by the chaos of boxes and possessions that are waiting to be organized, wondering just what I should be doing first.
The one thing I know I will be doing today for certain is to celebrate the daily Mass in the church at 12:10. According to Canon Law, "priests are earnestly invited to offer the euchristic sacrifice daily" (Canon 276.2). While obviously not a strict obligation, this recommendation reflects the accumulated wisdom of recent centuries, when the celebration of daily Mass became an increasingly important part of popular as well as priestly piety. (One of the already evident consequences of the shortage of priests is the severely diminished access to daily Mass in many places, not to mention the even more tragic situation of diminished access to Sunday Mass in many places).
Generally speaking (with obvious exceptions), daily (or almost daily) Mass has been more or less the rule for me in my two previous assignments as a priest (Toronto and New York). Although there is only one scheduled daily Mass Monday-Saturday here, various other obligations will likely make daily (or almost daily) Mass more the rule than the exception here too. And that seems good. Apart from all the theological and spiritual considerations that have animated the modern traditon of daily Mass, I think it works well, at least for me, as a sort of stabilizing spiritual anchor in one's regular routine, with all its confusions and distractions. And at no time is that more obvious, perhaps, than when one is in transition, as I am! So I look forward to centering these confusing, awkward, and demanding transitional days around the daily celebration of the Mass with the gathered community of my parishioners in our beautiful parish church.