Ordination to the Priesthood

I gathered up all of my prayers, tucked them into my heart and headed for the Cathedral.  I decided to go ahead with my plans after a very long conversation with my daughter…one that overflowed with thoughts on love, life, death and intention. She would be surrounded by friends very shortly…and I had decided a long time ago to support a young friend in his recent path to the Priesthood.
In no way, did I think that I would be touched like I was by the rites I witnessed. From beginning to end, I was moved.  There was a wonderful sense of excitement, love and support that permeated the congregation.
This morning I set the program out in front of me and I review the events, thinking about each ritual and what points I could possibly write about here.  My old dog beckons for a river walk because it has rained these past seven days….and finally the sky is a pure blue and the sun is warm on my back.  I will summarize just a few moments that were special to me so that they are captured somehow in words. 
Promise of Obedience. Invitation to Prayer. 
The Litany of the Saints is always a special moment for me in any celebration.  I remember it most on the night of my Confirmation as a twenty year old.  I can not even reflect upon this without remembering and mentioning by name, my special Oblate friend and Priest, Father Seamus Carroll.
The sung litany sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.  I have a huge sense of the communal prayers of the people being heard by God.  I have a sense that all that lives and breathes and everyone who has gone before us is caught up in a POSITIVE and beautiful meditation of love.   As the people intercede with all the Saints for the new ordinandi’s, they lie prostrate ("the ancient gesture of supplication and the dying of self,").
Laying on of Hands.
One by one, the candidates went to the bishop and knelt before him.  The bishop placed his hands on the head of each, in complete silence.
Next, every priest present (likely seventy-five), wearing stoles, lay their hands upon the candidates in silence.
For me, touch is a very powerful expression of love, compassion, forgiveness and healing.  I felt an amazing blessing as these men processed past me…each, blessing the two young men, only feet away from me.  I felt an historical context with The Church and was reminded of Jacob’s blessing on Joseph’s sons.  I felt this ritual to be rooted in a huge history.  I looked at the older priests with a profound respect.  There has been much said in the media about those priests who have made horrific mistakes, but little is said of the commitment and dedicated ministry of the others.  On this day, two young men…only beginning.  As the bishop stated in his homily, they will have to, like us, roll out of bed each morning, place their feet on the floor, and make a decision…to live fully and in faith.
This entry…to be continued later…for now, it is time to dawn my coveralls…and make my way to the Bow River, where this loyal friend of mine will enjoy the morning light.  Have a beautiful day one and all and hold on to one another!
…I’m back…after sharing a few out-of-focus photos from my walkabout this morning.
Investiture with Stole and Chasuble.
The young men took on the stole and chasuble…one was assisted by his parents, and the other by priests of his home country.  I know that I was very moved by the loving embrace shared between parents and sons.  There were tears among family members as they demonstrated openly their tremendous affection for their children and remarkable support.
Anointing of Hands.
Although the photo here is not from last evening’s celebration, it captures in part, the ritual whereby the priests, vested in stole and chasuble, knelt before the Bishop who then anointed their hands with sacred chrism for service to God’s people.  I was reminded of my friend…coming into The Chapel…and his gentle prayers over my own artist-hands.  I think that our hands are powerful reminders….we serve one another, in love.
There were many events throughout the Ordination that captured my heart and caused me to be moved deeply, although I have only captured a few.  My prayers are lifted up for these two men and I hope that they will rely on God for peace and understanding all the days of their lives.


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