One of the graces of this winter break has been time to reflect and journal for myself on my transition from parish ministry back into full-time study, along with my move back into the world of the student brothers still completing their initial formation in the Order.
Some of the interior challenges and struggles have been pretty intense. I'm still not at peace with how I am managing all of them. Thus, I have tried to make sure I remember and pray gratefully for all of the blessings and freedoms that my new situation has also brought. One of them is the ability to promptly offer Mass for our brethren who are recently deceased.
When a friar dies in my province of the Capuchin Order, each priest left on earth is supposed to offer a Mass for the deceased brother. This is easily accomplished by concelebrating at his funeral, but one can't always get to funerals. The parish where I worked was the same church in which our brothers' funerals were celebrated, but since I usually served as MC, I couldn't concelebrate.
As a parish priest, I found it somewhat difficult to find a time to offer these Masses for our deceased brothers. The parish had a very strong culture of individual Mass intentions, and there was never a scheduled Mass without one. Sometimes it would take me quite a while to find a day on which I was free to offer these Masses for deceased friars. I remember one spell when a few of our friars died not far apart from each other (we do everything as a group) when it took me about six months to clear out my queue of outstanding Mass intentions.
This is all different in my current assignment. I have scheduled Mass obligations on just three days a week, so I have plenty of opportunity to offer Mass for other intentions. So it's a beautiful blessing to have a morning like this one, a ferial day in Ordinary Time (a feria of the iv class, as they used to say) when I can not only offer Mass for one of our recently deceased brothers, but put on violet (we don't have black) and do so with a proper Mass for the dead.
The deceased was Fr. Ellis Zimmer, one of those friars whom you meet and just know he has found the secret to spiritual peace and joy. Requiescat in pace.