‘Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts’



Brenda Hopf

“And so, with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven, we sing the hymn of your glory, as without end we acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts….”

With a very heavy heart, I sank into my pew and prepared to listen to the homily at the 8 a.m. Mass Dec. 9, 2022. As I looked to the ambo, I saw Father Jose take the notes he had prepared for the homily that morning and put them to the side. He took a deep breath and then paused to gather himself. As he began to speak, his image was blurred by the tears welling in my eyes. Unable to control my emotions, eventually I had to remove my glasses and use my sleeve to wipe my tears.

You see, the day before, our parishioners Julie Schnell and her daughter, Alayna, died in a tragic automobile accident only a couple of miles from my house. Older daughter Addison Schnell was seriously injured. The Schnell and Temple families were at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers as we prayed the Mass on this morning.

Father Jose began by telling us he would not be using his notes but, rather, would be sharing some thoughts he had while in the sacristy before Mass began. He shared that, often, as the “Holy, Holy, Holy” begins, he looks at the servers standing in front of him at the foot of the altar, dressed in their cassocks and surplices, and thinks how they remind him of angels. Father Jose said he imagines them singing along with the saints and angels in heaven as the “Holy, Holy, Holy” is sung.

Before this Mass began, he said he envisioned the times Alayna and Addison had stood there as servers singing the “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Father Jose then reminded us that, on this morning and at every Mass hereafter, that Julie and Alayna will be singing and praying with us, along with “all the hosts and Powers of heaven.”

Oh my; I barely heard anything else Father Jose said. What an incredibly beautiful and comforting reminder of what we believe as Catholics. As the tears continued to flow, I even began to think of my deceased relatives and friends. This correspondence between heaven and earth is not something I think of often enough as I pray the Mass. I cried even harder when I realized a tragedy was the reason for this beautiful, comforting reminder – and so especially appropriate during this time of Eucharistic Renewal.

I remember reading something in the past that suggested the “Holy, Holy, Holy” is the most important of all the people’s acclamations at Mass. It is like a cheer; a joyful shout of thanks and praise to God. It is meant to be powerful, as if the people cannot stand it another moment and need to burst out in praise of God.

If we would only come to Mass with that same enthusiasm – the enthusiasm of a gym full of fans cheering for our team. Right before the game is to begin, we feel the tension rising; the gym is about to erupt with loud cheering.

Similarly at Mass, the anticipation should have us all on the edge of our seats, as together we prepare to burst out in praise of God and, with all the heavenly hosts, including our loved ones in heaven, without end acclaim:

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts….”

Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.