Friday, October 28, 2016


21 years ago today, in a modest but memorable ceremony at Saint Peter's Church in downtown Toronto, Canada, I was ordained a priest. I give thanks for that happy day and for all who helped me to reach it - and also for all I have been blessed to serve with or minister to in the 21 years since.

It is no longer the case anymore, of course; but, when I was growing up, 21 was the age of adulthood. In those days you could already drink at 18, but you couldn't vote until 21. Accordingly, I observed my 21st birthday by registering to vote for the first time. I guess that was a pretty nerdy way to celebrate coming of age, but that was what I did!

Of course, there is no comparable "coming of age" as a priest. If anything, ordination itself is more like a "coming of age,"  the culmination of a lifetime of remote preparation as one member of Christ's body, the Church, and of several special years of proximate preparation (14 years in my case - 5 as novice and seminarian and 9 as a deacon).  And, like legal age, the change is abrupt. One day you are not. Then the next day you are, and what started on ordination day then continues more or less uninterrupted to life's end. 

I had the privilege of being ordained a priest very appropriately on the feast of Saint Jude, the Apostle who is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. The Epistle which bears his name identifies him as a brother of James, and some family connection with Jesus is likewise often ascribed to him. There is even a 14th-century tradition that identifies him with the bridegroom at the wedding which Jesus, his family, and his disciples attended at Cana in Galilee! Jude is thought to have been martyred in Beirut in the mid-60s along with the Apostle Simon the Zealot, and the relics of both of them are purported to rest under Saint Joseph's altar in the left transept of Saint Peter's in Rome. 

But Saint Jude is most famously and appealingly invoked as the patron of desperate cases and lost causes. Rightly do we venerate and invoke Saint Jude because of the widespread desperation so many people personally experience in our world and the deep sense of loss that seems to pervade so much of our contemporary culture. 

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