Our canonry has the custom each year on New Year’s Eve of exposing the Blessed Sacrament on the altar of our abbey church for several hours of adoration. Shortly before midnight, we sing the solemn Te Deum, the Church’s ancient hymn of thanksgiving to almighty God for all of the benefits and blessings we receive from His merciful hands. Then the abbot gives benediction, after which we gather in the abbey common room to ring in the new year together.
Nearly ten years ago, I was at the abbey for several days after Christmas as a come-and-see visitor. I was in the abbey church during that prolonged period of Eucharistic adoration, asking God to make known His will for me and for my life. As I prayed, Fr. Leo Celano shuffled into the church from the sacristy and went to his usual place in choir.
I watched as he knelt down on the hard floor and remained there in prayer, absolutely still for a long period of time. This was particularly noteworthy, because at that time, Fr. Leo was already eighty years old and was mostly blind from macular degeneration, but his gaze was directed toward the monstrance on the altar.
(I had already been impressed at seeing Fr. Leo sitting in that same place in choir during the Divine Office, attempting to follow along in his breviary with the help of his iconic electric magnifying glass!)
As I looked at Fr. Leo praying, I realized this was the answer to my own prayer. I thought, “I want to be like that when I am an old man….”
The above comes from a posting on the Abbot’s circle by frater Ignatius Braydn Harsha, O.Praem.
Father Celano’s funeral Mass was March 7, 2022.
Read about Father Celano’s experience with Operation Rescue.