At the kind invitation of Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., this past week I spent a few days at Stift Heiligenkreuz in the Wienerwald. Pater Edmund and his confreres were gracious and generous hosts, and the experience of living and praying with them for a short time led me to reflect anew both on the monastic character of Ignatian spirituality and on the innovative (and distinctively Early Modern) shape that St. Ignatius gave to the new religious order that he created.
My time at Heiligenkreuz also gave me a chance to relive some of the graces that I experienced at the time of my ordination in June. Knowing that I was ordained less than two months ago, the monks asked me to serve as presiding celebrant at their conventual Mass on one of the days of my visit, giving them the opportunity to assist at the Nachprimiz of a newly-ordained priest. Following the Mass, I was also asked to give the special blessing of the recently ordained, the Primizsegen. As Pater Edmund reminded me, the Primizsegen is an especially venerable tradition in the German-speaking world; I was told something similar on the night of my ordination by a Jesuit who had spent his first summer as a priest in rural Bavaria, where he quickly lost count of the number of times he was asked to impart the Primizsegen. It was a great consolation and joy for me to once again give thanks for the gift of my ordination and to impart the blessing of a new priest upon a community whose dedication to the common life and to the opus Dei of the liturgy has impressed and inspired me. I'm also happy to know that there are now a few dozen people in Austria who have copies of my ordination prayer card; may that card remind them to pray for me, just as I pray for them. AMDG.