Monday, June 13, 2016

Receive me, O Lord, according to your word.

I was ordained to the priesthood one year ago on this date. I've written about that happy event before, and I'm not sure what to add except for another expression of gratitude; my first year as a priest has brought me abundant grace and consolation, and sacramental ministry has been a source of great joy for me even (or perhaps especially?) at times when I've felt particularly rundown by the stresses of academic life or vexed by the problems facing the Church and the world. After many years of prayer and preparation, I'm now doing the work that I've been called to do for the rest of my life, and there is great joy and contentment in that.

In my post last week, I wrote a bit about the image and words on the prayer card distributed at Father Vincent Strand's ordination and first Mass. In light of today's anniversary, I thought I'd say something about the prayer card I designed for my own ordination last year; the two sides of the card may be seen above, with the 'front' side bearing my name and the date and place of my ordination and the back bearing a verse from Psalm 119. A monk I met last summer at Heiligenkreuz described my ordination prayer card as sehr benediktinische, and with good reason: the two sides of the Medal of St. Benedict illustrate the front and back of the card, and one also finds the words Deo Optimo Maximo, a motto traditionally associated with the Benedictine Order, as well as a psalm verse (Ps 119:116) which forms part of the rite of monastic profession in Benedict's Rule (cf. RB 58:21). The Austrian monk may or may not have noticed, but the design of the card was also inspired by prayer cards I'd picked up on visits to Portsmouth Abbey, giving it a sort of intentionally Benedictine aesthetic.

Some may be surprised that a Jesuit's ordination prayer card would be so benediktinische, but those who know me personally should not be. My affinity for the Benedictine tradition goes back a long way, even though I knew from the time that I began to discern a vocation that I would probably enter the Jesuits. I see no contradiction in this; I think I've always intuitively agreed with a confrere who said that one couldn't be a good Jesuit without having the desire to be a monk, by which I think he meant that every Jesuit should aspire to be a contemplative. I've argued for the essential compatibility between the Ignatian charism and earlier traditions of Christian monasticism, a theme that may animate some of my future scholarly work. As I look forward with joy and hope to many more years of priestly ministry, I repeat a prayer I made two years ago on the tenth anniversary of my entrance into the novitiate, one offered again on my ordination prayer card: Receive me, O Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; and let me not be confounded in my hope. AMDG.


At 6/13/2016 7:43 PM, Blogger Tzipyo said...

Happy Anniversary! Prayers and blessings as you continue along in your Jesuit priestly vocation. Buckle your seatbelt; God is doing God's thing!

Jane McNally

At 6/13/2016 7:48 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Thank you, Jane - and thank you again for the gift last year at the time of my ordination. Hope all is well, JK sj


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