Wednesday, November 30, 2011

18 Years: The Feast of St. Andrew, my Ordination Patron

Today marks eighteen years since my ordination to the sacred priesthood in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church on St. Andrew’s Day. It was a beautiful, powerful, poignant liturgy. So much of my life led up to it, yet it was not a “mountain top” experience, an event isolated from the rest of my life. Rather, it was a confirmation, journey further into, an opening up. I shall never forget when the chasuble was lowered over me at that liturgy. While I knew that the “moment” of ordination was during the laying on of hands, it was in the otherworldly silence and enveloping of that fleeting action that the grace of ordination was truly impressed on me. For a brief second, the seamlessness and tranquillity of the Christian faith completely overcame this fragmented and anxious world. It was a foretaste of heaven.

Andrew and his brother Peter, the Gospel according to Matthew tells us, were mending their nets when Jesus called them to follow him. They were engaged in the ordinary things of life for fishers. This fact about St. Andrew’s life and vocation has not left me. It is in the ordinary run of things that God so often comes to us. Andrew, who had begun this journey as one of St. John the Baptist’s disciples, was clearly ready to hear the word of invitation to follow Jesus; he was a person of deep faithfulness and thus makes for a great Ordination Patron, whom I remember daily and at each Eucharist. But the moment of his calling that St. Matthew paints for us is one of the daily, the routine, the unglamorous. Much of being a parish priest falls into this category. For some, this is a trial. I won’t say I haven’t been frustrated by it from time to time, but on the whole, it is precisely in the ordinary, the mundane, the scut-work of this vocation that I have found Jesus calling to me. Along with the riches of the liturgy, it is in the hidden and simple round of parochial life that I have most often found Our Lord—and been found by him.

Pray for me, the deeply imperfect servant of Christ.

Pray for me, St. Andrew.

The Collect of St. Andrew
Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

From the Ordination Liturgy

The Bishop says
As a priest, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in accordance with its precepts. You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. You are to preach, to declare God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners, to pronounce God’s blessing, to share in the administration of Holy Baptism and in the celebration of the mysteries of Christ’s Body and Blood, and to perform the other ministrations entrusted to you.

In all that you do, you are to nourish Christ’s people from the riches of his grace, and strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come.

My brother, do you believe that you are truly called by God and his Church to this priesthood?

Answer      I believe I am so called.

May it be so, by God’s grace and the prayers of his people.

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