Friday, January 03, 2003

OK, about the ordination ...
(Note: these are my reflections, and are not being checked over by anybody.Therefore any infelicities of expression are mine and mine only.)
What can I say ? Moving, glorious, amazing. I was, of course, in the Cathedral's choir loft, which meant I didn't exactly have a close-up view... but it was still incredible.
The readings were wonderful.
First Reading : Jeremiah 1:4-9
"4 The word of the LORD came to me thus: 5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. 6 "Ah, Lord GOD!" I said, "I know not how to speak; I am too young." 7 But the LORD answered me, Say not, "I am too young." To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. 9 Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying, See, I place my words in your mouth! "

Second Reading: Acts of the Apostles 20:17-36
"17 From Miletus he had the presbyters of the church at Ephesus summoned. 18 When they came to him, he addressed them, "You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews, 20 and I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes. 21 I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus. 22 But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, 23 except that in one city after another the holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. 24 Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God's grace. 25 "But now I know that none of you to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels will ever see my face again. 26 And so I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, 27 for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers,in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. 30 And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. 31 So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated. 33 I have never wanted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34 You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions. 35 In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" 36 When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. "
Gospel: St. John 17:6, 14-19
" 6 "I revealed Your Name to those whom You gave Me out of the world. They belonged to You, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 14 I gave them Your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. 15 I do not ask that You take them out of the world but that You keep them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. 17 Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, so I sent them into the world. 19 And I consecrate Myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth. "

In the actual Rite of Ordination, the two things which moved me the most came one after the other: first the Litany of the Saints, and then the Laying On of Hands and the Prayer of Consecration. The first is remarkable since, besides Good Friday, it is ( so far as I know) the only time in the Western Church when someone is not just kneeling but lying prostrate, i.e. flat on his face, before God. The candidate lies there while the Litany is chanted and all of us sing the responses, asking the holy ones of God from the past two thousand years to intercede for this man who is about to become 'a priest forever', and then beseeching God to give him His blessing . As the Litany says:
"Ut hunc electum benedicere et sanctificare et consecrare digneris/ Te rogamus, audi nos "
("Bless this chosen man, make him holy, and consecrate him for his sacred duties/ We beseech You, hear us")
This is followed by the Laying On of Hands, and the Prayer of Consecration...the critical moment. When Michael knelt down, he was still a candidate for the priesthood. After the Bishop had put his hands on Michael's head and Prayer of Consecration, he was a priest-still to be vested in stole and chasuble, still to have his hands anointed by the sacred chrism, but a priest. I have been blessed to witness several ordinations, and that moment always sends a quiver of joy through me. It continues. The Lord calls and some still respond, despite all the cultural mess and rampant poor catechesis. Blessed be His Holy Name !

There was a lot more, of course. Listening to Fr. Michael as he prayed part of the Eucharistic Prayer for the first time was wonderful. The fact that about fifteen or so priests came to concelebrate on the Saturday after Christmas was a blessing, and they included not only the other Pittsburgh Oratorians and diocesan priests but Fr. Kurt Belsole, O.S.B, Rector of the seminary where Fr. Michael studied , some of Fr. Belsole's fellow Benedictines, and Fr. Daniels, the Provost of the Pharr Oratory, down in southern Texas.
I won't say much about the reception afterwards, since this post is already long, but it was certainly a time to rejoice !
I'll blog on the First Mass another time...


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