Monday, June 05, 2017

The Prayer of Ordination.

This weekend I was in Milwaukee to witness the priestly ordination of twelve of my Jesuit confreres; video of that event is available (at least at this writing; I'm not sure for how long) on the Midwest Jesuits' website. As I pray for my brothers as they begin their priestly ministry, I also remember my own ordination two years ago. Doing so, I was reminded that I've been meaning to post something here about the prayer of ordination which, together with the imposition of hands by the ordaining bishop, forms an essential part of the rite. Like some other prayers, this one strikes me with even greater force since I've been ordained. The text, recited or chanted by the ordaining bishop with hands outstretched over the ordinandi, reads as follows:
Draw near, O Lord, holy Father,
almighty and eternal God,
author of human dignity:
it is you who apportion all graces.
through you everything progresses;
through you all things are made to stand firm.

To form a priestly people
you appoint ministers of Christ your Son
by the power of the Holy Spirit,
arranging them in different orders.

Already in the earlier covenant
offices arose, established through mystical rites:
when you set Moses and Aaron over your people
to govern and sanctify them,
you chose men next in rank and dignity
to accompany them and assist them in their task.

So too in the desert
you implanted the spirit of Moses
in the hearts of seventy wise men;
and with their help he ruled your people with greater ease.

So also upon the sons of Aaron
you poured an abundant share of their father's plenty,
that the number of the priests prescribed by the Law
might be sufficient for the sacrifices of the tabernacle,
which were a shadow of the good things to come.

But in these last days, holy Father,
you sent your Son into the world,
Jesus, who is Apostle and High Priest of our confession.
Through the Holy Spirit
he offered himself to you as a spotless victim;
and he made his Apostles, consecrated in the truth,
sharers in his mission.
You provided them also with companions
to proclaim and carry out the work of salvation
throughout the whole world.

And now we beseech you, Lord, in our weakness,
to grant us these helpers that we need
to exercise the priesthood that comes from the Apostles.

Grant, we pray, Almighty God,
to these your servants
the dignity of the priesthood.
Renew within them the Spirit of holiness;
may they henceforth possess this office
which comes from you, O God,
and is next in rank to the office of bishop;
and by the example of their manner of life,
may they instill right conduct.

May they be worthy coworkers with our Order,
so that by their preaching
and through the grace of the Holy Spirit
the words of the Gospel may bear fruit in human hearts
and reach even to the ends of the earth.

Together with us,
may they be faithful stewards of your mysteries,
so that your people may be restored by the waters of rebirth
and nourished from your altar;
so that sinners may be reconciled
and the sick raised up.

May they be joined with us, Lord,
in imploring your mercy
for the people entrusted to their care
and for all the world.

And so may the full number of the nations,
gathered together in Christ,
be transformed into your one people
and made perfect in your Kingdom.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.
You can hear the prayer in its entirety in the video below, taken from my ordination two years ago. The ordaining prelate, then-Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis (now Cardinal Archbishop of Newark), impressively chanted this very long prayer (and, in fact, sang much of the Mass).

For a deeper look at the theology of this prayer and an explanation of its various scriptural allusions, take a look at this post by Msgr. James Moroney, rector of St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. More importantly, though, please join me in praying for this year's ordinandi, that God may grant them much grace and consolation and that their ministry may bear much fruit. AMDG.


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