I begin to realize that this religious life is made of different seasons. At the beginning were the first steps (and missteps!) in praying and living in community. Then there was the settling into the longer period of studies, with its own particular spiritual delights and pitfalls. Then the time of being a new priest in a parish, a time lush with people, variety, and spiritual gifts, but also capable of producing great theological and pastoral frustrations. Now--and for almost four years now!--I have the life of a secretary in the General Curia, a more hidden kind of life, closer to the interior of the brotherhood of the Order, more monastic in both its spiritual opportunities and dangers.
Each season has had its joys and sufferings. When I think back to studies or to the parish, there are things I miss very much, and I know that when and if the next season comes I will miss aspects of the General Curia too.
Things change. One of my favorite old posts on this blog--and one of the ones that has drawn a good amount of search traffic--is my so-called plan for using Eucharistic Prayer I that I developed as a practice when I was assigned to Sacred Heart in Yonkers. It's funny how such a thing just doesn't apply anymore.
I said that I used the Roman Canon on days that had a 'Roman character,' feast days of canonized popes or days like the Chair of Peter and the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. But here in Rome the balance of this is different; there are several more popes and Roman saints in the proper calendar. Someone might even say that every Mass offered in the diocese of Rome has a 'Roman character.'
I said that I used the Roman Canon on days when it provided proper inserts for the Communicantes and/or Hanc igitur, that is to say the big solemnities and octaves. But here in Italy the missal has proper inserts for the analogous parts of the other Eucharistic Prayers too, and even more, a proper insert for every Sunday. For example, when our Eucharistic Prayer II says, Remember, Lord, your Church,
spread throughout the world and bring her to the fullness of charity, the Italian version, on Sundays, inserts after world, "and here gathered on the day on which Christ defeated death and made us sharers in his immortal life" before continuing with bring her to the fullness of charity. It has its beauty and pastoral sense, if nevertheless a departure from the typical edition Missale Romanum. In any case, there goes that little rationale for using Eucharistic Prayer I.
In my current life my only reliable and predictable choice for the Roman Canon is once a year, on my birthday, when house custom schedules a priest as principal celebrant and on the occasion of which I trust the indulgence of the brothers.
The graces change, as do the challenges. The Holy Spirit tailors anew to our measure the Cross we are called to pick up each day in our desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. And yet his Sacrifice, which becomes also ours, remains one; the grace of God, of which he is the perfect and complete utterance, remains a single and eternal act of love from which all things come.