This Past Sunday I celebrated my 50th Birthday and of all the gifts I received, I must say I got the best from the Lord who delivered it in a “strange package.”

It began the day before as I arose and realized with some dread that I had surely over-committed myself. As I looked at my calendar I saw that I had scheduled four Masses and luncheon meeting. “How could I be so crazy!” I told myself as I prayed in the groggy early morning. The Lord remained quiet but I sensed he was smiling just a bit.

The first Mass was at 8:00am and was the most straight forward. It was a very pleasant Mass with the Sisters in the Convent. I offered it for the repose of my Mother. When she was alive I always bought her flowers on my birthday, since I figured she did all the work, and I just showed up. If anyone deserved a gift she did. Now that she has departed this life, my gift to her is Mass for her happy repose. A nice but brief breakfast followed with the sisters. They are always so kind to me. And so here was the first of the six sacraments I would celebrate that day: Holy Eucharist.

The second Mass was at 10:00 am, a solemn high Latin Nuptial Mass for a wonderful young couple from Africa, both of them studying medicine here in the States. God be praised, it was a beautiful Mass, with all the ceremony and splendor that the Traditional Latin Mass offers. But it was a workout, coming in at an hour and a half. And here was the second of six sacraments I would celebrate that day, Holy Matrimony along with Holy Eucharist, again.

A luncheon followed with parish leaders at noon. Here too, a wonderful occasion. I have so many wonderful leaders. God be praised. They surprised me with a birthday cake and three different versions of Happy Birthday.

By now I felt a nap coming on, but no time for that….I have miles to go before I sleep.

The third Mass was at 2pm. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation for woman who had been delayed for over two years while “canonical issues” were resolved. At long last she had her green light, and there was no way I was going to make her wait until next Easter. With her family in the Chapel we celebrated big time with Mass wherein she received her Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist AND had her marriage validated! Wow, God is good. She’d had a long wait, and was so patient. It was so satisfying to finally see her through. And here were the third and fourth of the six sacraments I would celebrate that day: Baptism and Confirmation, along with Holy Matrimony and Holy Eucharistic, again, and again.

It’s 4:00pm now. Time to go hear confessions in Church. And here was the fifth sacrament I would celebrate that day: Confession.

At 4:30pm Mass # 4 and Holy Eucharist again, Mass number four!

6:00 pm – Time to chill. “Lord you really made me work this weekend. That’s a strange thing to do to me on my birthday weekend!” There’s that silent smile of the Lord again. What’s he up to? Sure enough: the phone rings. Hospital call! And not even nearby. I am mindful of the words of Mother Teresa who said that the Lord told her he’d never give her more than she could take. She only wished that the Lord didn’t trust her so much! Off to anoint the critically ill. And thus the sixth sacrament I celebrated: Anointing of the Sick

Well, there you have it. My gift in a “strange package,” a sacramental six-pack, every sacrament I can possibly celebrate. It was a bone-crusher of a day but God is so good. I don’t suppose a priest could have any better gift that to be reminded so powerfully of his purpose on the eve of his 50th birthday.

But God knows me well enough to realize that he had to send a prophet to decode it all for me, just to make sure I got it. It came on Sunday afternoon, the evening of my birthday. Two of the Sisters came from the Convent presented me with a cake and sang happy birthday.

Innocently they asked me how my birthday weekend had gone. “Do you have a few minutes Sisters?” I said. And I told them the whole story.

One of them looked at me and said, “Do you see what God was saying to you on your 50th birthday? He was saying, ‘This is why I created you.'”

Yes, that is what he was saying alright. And it was the best gift I could have received.

Cardinal McCarrick: “What Is a Priest?” from Rocco Palmo on Vimeo.

57 Responses

  1. Peter Wolczuk says:

    It feels like, after a metaphorically rough and bumpy flight you sofltly softly came in for a gentle landing.

  2. Patt says:

    Thanks be to God that you are a priest– the best calling on earth!! Wishing you the very best and praying for you and others like you.

  3. Will says:

    Sounds like it was good time. Happy Birthday

  4. esiul says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope,
    Happy Birthday and many, many more in the service of our Lord. It was indeed a busy day for you, and I shudder when I think of the shortage of priests to come in our future and your load will be heavier yet.
    That’s a fine picture of you too.
    May the Lord bless and keep you.

  5. Maria Key says:

    Happy Birthday! Thanks be to God for your life and for calling you to the priesthood! May he continue to bless you.

  6. Laura K says:

    God bless you and your parish! and happy birthday!

  7. Tracy says:

    A happy and blessed new year of life for you, Father! I am glad you do that for your mother each year, you are a good son to her. You look great in the photo, BTW! Thank you for all you do here online, I live in Florida and will never be able to hear your masses, but your writings here help me a great deal.

  8. Irenaeus of New York says:

    Happy Birthday Father Pope!

    I am certainly glad you are priest. I have learned a lot reading your blog. Thank you for the time and effort you put into it! I amazed you find the time to write so many thoughtful posts.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Very Nice

  10. jj says:

    You indeed celebrated 7 sacraments not 6. I see it very clearly, but you must see it. Seven, the number of completion. Ask God to show you number 7. He will. Happy Birthday Pastor!. Jac

  11. Jacki says:

    A beautiful birthday eve indeed, Monsignor. We are all blessed by your priesthood. Ad multos annos!

  12. Gary says:

    Msgr Pope – May you get some rest. I believe the Lord has much more scheduled when 100th Birthday arrives.
    God Bless You.

  13. Gary says:

    Msgr Pope – May you get some rest. I believe the Lord has much more scheduled when your 100th Birthday arrives.
    God Bless You.

  14. Nguyen Thuong MInh says:

    Epistle 194
    My some ideas of “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, in the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope talked about past Sunday (10 July 2011), Father’s 50th Birthday, and about all the gifts Father received.
    Six gifts Father received as Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, and Anointing of the Sick.
    In addition, in the Sunday’s 50th Birthday, Msgr. Charles Pope also had luncheon with a birthday cake. And on the evening of the birthday, two of the Sisters came from the Convent presented Father with other birthday cake.
    In total, in his 50th Birthday, Msgr. Charles Pope received six sacraments, a luncheon and two birthday cakes.
    Secondly, now permit me to add some problems hereafter:
    According to law of the Church, when a Priest, in one day, makes one sacrament or six sacraments, then he will receive all donations, normally, it is a number of money.
    Suppose that in Holy Eucharist, Parishioners donated $1,000, Holy Matrimony is $2,000, Baptism is $3,000, Confirmation is $4,000, Confession is $5,000, Anointing of the Sick is $2, but Father only receive domination of one sacrament.
    Father also received all other dominations, but Father ought to donate them to Archdiocese of Washington.
    In title of the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope said that he only receive domination of one sacrament is Six-Pack, that is, He only eat (and drink) in one sacrament which its price is equivalent of six canned beers.
    In Vietnam today, prices of six canned beers are approximately VND 50,000 ($2.5).
    While I also make things as a Priest does. And I also don’t receive any gifts or a number of money except my monthly state salary is about VND15 million ($700).
    I also knew that a Doctor as me in the US, his monthly salary is about VND200million ($10,000)./.

  15. Mark O'Malley says:

    Happy Birthday! Ad multos annos!

  16. Jenny Zichelli says:

    Father, you are a gift to us all. Happy Birthday, and thank you for blogging. I read it everyday!

  17. Maggie says:

    Looks like you spent your birthday in very close contact with the Lord, doing what he would have done. Congratulations!

  18. erica says:

    Happy birthday!

  19. Maureen says:

    What a perfect video!!! And Happy Birthday once again!!!

  20. Anita says:

    A belated Happy 50th, Msgr! You help so many of us with your well written, thoughtful blogs every single day. May God grant you many more years of priestly service. You are in our daily prayers as always. God Bless.

  21. GP says:

    Happiest of Birthdays, Dear Padre!! Praise be to God for sharing your own special day with so many of His flock to receive His awesome gifts of grace through you on your special day!!! What a gift for YOU and for ALL!!

    HAPPIEST OF BIRTHDAYS and WELCOME TO THE GOLDEN AGE CLUB!!

  22. Kathy Winkler says:

    Hooray for a faithful priest, doing the job that God has called him to do. Without good and faithful priests, we cannot sustain the Catholic Church. It is as simple as this: No priests, no Eucharist, therefore no Church!!! I seriously pray that those who are called will generously respond to that call to the priesthood. Someone once said that there is no shortage of vocations, only a shortage of positive responses to these calls. Thank you very much, Msgr. Pope, for your service to God and His Church!!! God Bless You and all your other brother priests in our nation and the world.

  23. Alice says:

    Happy 50th! What a blessing you are to discern these beautiful gifts our Lord has given to you!
    Unlike other ‘priests’ who have now come to an “End of An Era”. He speaks only of himself; you speak only of God!

  24. Jeremy says:

    I came here expecting to hear about beer.

  25. Paul says:

    God bless you Msgr.Pope. What a beautiful post!

  26. Sherry says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope,

    What a wonderful photo. Starting off with six sacraments sounds like the beginning of a new year filled with blessings. Thank you for everything you do for us here on your blog – I look to your blog as daily Adult Education. I don’t know how you do it on top of everything else you do. I thank God for sharing you with us!

  27. Regine says:

    Happy birthday, Msgr. Pope! And to add to the Sisters’ message from God, “This is why I created you,” I am inspired to also add that God also gave you the gift of JOY, the meaning of which is found in the word itself, to borrow a phrase from Peter Kreeft. You have always communicated this message in your posts: Jesus, Others, and Yourself (JOY). Thank you, Msgr, Pope, that through your posts, you have inspired some people to embrace the tenet of their Faith.

  28. Vijaya says:

    Happy Birthday, dear Father! What a blessed and beautiful day for you. When you lay your head on your pillow, you can be sure that Jesus would say, “Well done, my son!”

  29. Alice says:

    May good bless you father for the good works.

  30. Alice says:

    May the good lord bless you father for the work that you are doing.

  31. David says:

    Happy Birthday Msgr. Pope! I pray you have many more years of faithful service to God and His Church, I think you are doing an excellent job.

  32. maureen says:

    Brought a smile to my face… loved the post… enjoy reading your stuff.

  33. maureen says:

    Happy Birthday, belated.

  34. […] His pleasure in all of it, his gratitude for the ability to confer these sacramental gifts, is evident in every word as he describes a day that brought four Eucharistic masses, heard confessions, performed two […]

  35. abby schult says:

    Happy Birthday Msgr. Thank you for being a priest.

  36. Liz says:

    Your story gave me goosebumps! God bless you for recognizing why you were born and God bless you for saying, “yes”. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You make your Mother proud.

  37. Liz says:

    I meant to say, “Mothers”.

  38. Michael Lenerz says:

    Happy birthday, Monsignor. I do so much enjoy your postings, and praise and thank the Lord for the gifts He has given to the Church in you. Peace.

  39. Rey says:

    Way to go Father Charles.

  40. Marc says:

    Aloha Father Charles, wishing you a happy birthday and all of God’s grace and blessings.
    Your day, albeit busy, sounds heavenly. I agree with the sisters, this day showed why you were created and called.

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