SALT LAKE CITY — The sacred music that filled the Cathedral of the Madeleine for the regular 11 a.m. Mass on June 30 was selected specifically to "do great honor to the liturgy, because this was a very solemn occasion," said Father Christopher Gray, who celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in honor of his ordination, which occurred the day before.
"I wanted also, especially for the sake of those who came, to offer the very, very best that I know this place can offer," he added.
The Cathedral Choir provided the music for the Mass. From their repertoire Fr. Gray selected pieces such as the Cantus Missae and O sacrum convivium that not only fit the liturgy but also had personal significance – he was a member of the first class of the Madeleine Choir School.
With its light, color, the arts and music, the Cathedral of the Madeleine is "the unapologetic apology of the truth of Christian faith that encircles us," Fr. Gray said in his homily. "All this brightness brings us closer to the heart more than a merely ordinary place ever could. Together it is more than we can experience all at once, which is why we never tire of gathering here to worship Christ, our Lord. ... The brightness of this place is supposed to lift our minds and hearts to heaven, and it is out of desire that we are here now, and even when not here, continue to live in this light of discipleship."
In his homily, he also gave thanks to the Lord for the gift of his priestly ordination, and "I give thanks to you, for following Christ with me to this point, and ask that you pray for me, very hard, that I may always follow Christ alone just as I pray the same for you," he said. "We are followers of Christ together, stronger in our bond of discipleship than we are individually. ... On our own it is easy to let ourselves be turned away from Christ, but through the mystery and the ministry of the Church, we are healed and brought closer to the true discipleship of Christ."
Fr. Gray, who is bilingual, also celebrated a Thanksgiving Mass in Spanish at 3 p.m. June 30 in the Cathedral.
All the weekend’s ceremonies had great significance, Fr. Gray said in an interview, but he also had time to spend with friends.
"Those personal things are, of course, absolutely delightful and provide the flavor to the rest of these vast, important things which are simply too big to grapple with beforehand or afterward," he said. "This priestly ordination thing – this is for the rest of my life, so I have a nice long time to ponder [it]."
Until he returns this fall to Rome to complete an advanced degree in theology, Fr. Gray will serve at the Cathedral. He said he was looking forward to celebrating Mass on July 2 at the Carmelite monastery in Holladay, at Mother Maureen Goodwin’s invitation.
"That will be a lovely thing because I know they’ve been praying for me very, very much," he said.