Sunday, May 29, 2016

An Ordination in the City

Once upon a time, ordinations were commonly celebrated on Ember Days - penitential days that occurred (until 1969) four times each year. In Rome in those early centuries, the Ember Saturday in December seems to have been the major ordination date. The Ember Days are a mere memory now, of course, and the ordination rite has lost any trace of its onetime connection with penitential liturgy. Ordinations are now festive occasions par excellence. It is almost as if, as the number of ordinands diminishes, we all appreciate them all that much more! One consequence is certainly the large number of priests who turn out for ordinations nowadays, which makes the ceremony longer, but that much more moving!

Saturday, I went home to New York for the ordination of a former Saint Paul's parishioner, a veteran of the parish Young Adult Ministry in the 2000s, who was ordained for the Archdiocese of New York - one of 14 ordained by Cardinal Dolan in a truly festive celebration. It was actually the first of three ordinations I will be attending on consecutive Saturdays. This coming week will see the ordination of a new priest for the Diocese of Knoxville, followed the following week by the ordination of some 24 new permanent deacons, one of them a parishioner at Immaculate Conception.

It was hot in New York and crowded, and I was truly tired out by the end of the day. But it was a beautiful and joyful celebration not just of the sacred priesthood but of the Risen Christ's continued presence in his Church - a sign (notwithstanding everything to the contrary) of a future for he Church full of promise!

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