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The Great Mystery of Joy

January 22, 2018

The other day as I was meditating on the mystery of the Annunciation while I was praying the Rosary, I began to think of how Mary must have felt during those moments before the Word took on flesh in her womb. Mary’s initial reaction, Luke tells us, was one of fear. Because of her humility, she was troubled at the angel’s lofty greeting, and she was told not to be afraid before being communicated God’s awesome plan for her. What fear must have seized her at being told of the great responsibility she was to have as the Mother of the Savior! I then thought of myself and the great responsibility, which I bear the gift the gift of  Priesthood and when the faithful call me “Father.”

What a great responsibility “Father” brings! In Italy, it is customary to call transitional-deacons “Father” because indeed transitional-deacons are already responsible for the spiritual lives of some, especially those we baptize. I am proud to boast that I myself am the father of the 19 souls whom I have immersed into the life of the Trinity through Baptism! And now my responsibility has increased as I am entrusted with the care of souls in an even greater way. I can relate well to Mary’s initial fear at the Annunciation!

I returned from Rome in 2014 after completing my studies at the Angelicum. I was assigned to our parish of Jesus, Our Risen Savior, in Spartanburg, SC, to gain pastoral experience. While there, I ministered to the sick at Spartanburg Regional Hospital as I took a course in Clinical Pastoral Education and I helped out with the parish’s youth ministry. After the General Chapter of this year, I was then transferred to St. Joseph’s, Lodi, NJ. This past year of pastoral exposure has equipped me with much experience, but I still have so much more to learn!

Mary responded, “Yes” to the mission entrusted to her to be the Mother of the Son of God. She trusted. She had faith. This is why the Annunciation is a joyful mystery, not a mystery of fear. Pray for me, dear friends, that I may be like Mary, as I am entrusted with the office of the Priesthood. May I too trust, so that this sacred vocation may be for us a mystery of joy!

Fr. Ryan De la Pena, CRM