It was pretty cool when two weeks ago on Friday evening, we were together with all the Bentley's and right there in their living room Uncle Fr. Eddie celebrated Mass! How cool to have a priest in the family. When having small children I have found it super difficult to get to daily Mass... just hauling Anthony in his car seat in and out of the Church and keeping track of two little ones (and keeping them quiet) becomes quite a challenge. On this day the ultimate situation occurred... Anthony was taking a nap and Gabriel was in the next room, playing quietly (while I hoped he was still getting the graces from the Mass next store). It was pretty cool. Right there... no car seats hauled, no crying, tired babies... I just had to walk into the next room. What a blessing to find Jesus so close that night!
I have found that having a priest in the family has given us so much pride... the good kind, though. I remember going to the beach last summer while one night we played a game. Each person picked a really serious or really uncomfortable (hilarious) question out of the box and you had to answer. When we were asked what are you most proud of, my husband, Patrick answered, "That my brother is going to be a priest." It is so true. As a family it is a huge grace and we are so proud.
On Dec. 21st, 2010 Patrick and I took Gabriel and Anthony thousands of miles to Rome, Italy to be there for Eddie's ordination. It was the most unbearable experience of my life, traveling with two small children and a time change... I know that I can do anything now that I have that venture under my belt. I made the incredibly generous mistake of asking for anyone and everyone's special intentions before we left (just kidding)! And I was so honored to receive so many prayers to take with me... I think I had plenty to suffer for everyone, I hope. Only Jesus knows, but my heart was in it.
The ordination was Christmas Eve, Dec. 24th, 2010 and was in the morning at St. Paul Outside the Walls. It was a beautiful basilica where 60 priests were ordained that day. Gabriel had slept a total of one and a half hours the night before, so I spent the 3 hours following his manic little person around while trying to catch a glimpse of everything on the big screen. It was quite amazing that I did not miss one thing... I managed to see Eddie get his head and hands anointed, I saw him when they placed his vestments on him, and I even saw him receive his chalice and paten. It was truly amazing. Gabriel later, when asked what did Uncle Eddie do today, responded with "ord... nation... head, hands, new clothes." He was listening to me during the Mass!
I realized the next day when Eddie celebrated his first Mass what had really happened the previous day. As Fr. Edward Bentley, LC, processed into the chapel as a new priest celebrating his first ever Mass, we all totally lost it. We were basically sobbing. And Eddie cried most of the Mass too. My favorite part was the homily. Through the tears, Eddie explained (I'm not going to do it justice), but he explained how Christmas was the perfect time to begin his vocation as a priest and celebrate his first Mass... this is because Christmas is the time when God revealed to us how much He really loved us and how badly he wanted to be close to us. He loved us so much that he became a man... the Incarnation... and this is appropriate because Eddie said this has always been at the heart of his vocation. One of the reasons he wanted to become a priest was so he could be close to God. It was really so incredibly beautiful. I will remember his first Mass forever.
So, two Fridays ago... not the same as the first Mass, but I could still see that he was on his honeymoon. His eyes lit up and he celebrated the Mass with such fervor and reverence. I just love having a priest in the family. Thank you, Jesus, for giving Patrick's brother, Eddie, the grace to say yes to your call. We pray today on Good Friday for vocations... so more men may follow your call, so we may come to know of this great Paschal Mystery.