the picture of my first mass

growing up i played a lot of basketball. i loved the playground because that was where you could prove yourself against someone: one on one. i was a better than average player not because of my height but because was quick. so even though i was one of the smallest kids around, so i never viewed myself as being short.

when i saw myself in photos next to others, it always surprised me how much physically shorter i really was in comparison. by measuring stick to others was how well one could play on the b-ball court. i felt as tall or even taller than most others!

over the years, i have been very consistent with my workouts and i still have good energy. in my mind, i am not 59 years old. people actually get surprised when i say that i am really looking forward to celebrating my 60th, 70th, and 80th birthdays.

i like getting older because i do not physically feel that i am my actual age.

the other day, i was rearranging some photos on my mother’s wall. i came across this picture of my first mass from february 6, 1994 at st. paul church:

besides the fact that i had a full head of hair back then, it shocked me how much time has changed. i was taken aback a bit when i looked at the other priests around the altar with me that day. each of them have since died and are resting in peace with the Lord now.

no matter how i feel or how i see myself, i am getting old. this photo reminds me that i live on borrowed time like everyone.

from left to right the priest are: ignacio blanco cmf, jerry mcclosky, jaime tolang, daryl olds cmf. because i have lived with ignacio and daryl i know them better. ignacio was the first claretian pastor i lived with. daryl and i began thoelogical studies in berkeley together when i first entered seminary. i had admired jerry for pastoring my home parish, st paul, in south seattle. jaime tolang has always been a quiet and holy man for the filipino community in seattle for decades. all are good men– not perfect but dedicated to serve God’s people by their lives of self giving. i pray that they continue to sleep soundly in the arms of our loving God.

i wonder about all of the unknown good deeds each had done throughout their decades of service. like all of us, there is much we had not seen in each of their lives.

i saw a sign in a sacristy that said, “priest of God, say this mass as if it was your first mass, your last mass, your only mass.” i like that sentiment as it contextualizes our gifted time on earth. i like that sentiment because it conveys my liturgical aspiration until my last own day of life here.

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