June 21, 2010

Cardinal O'Malley's Ordination Homily

On Saturday our newest priest was ordained by our Capuchin brother Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archbishop of Boston. The homiletic instruction he gave to the ordinandus (and by extension to all priests present) was quite inspiring, and I wanted to share two points that I can recall. The first is on spiritual fatherhood and the second on pronouncing the words of consecration.

As a spiritual father to the people to whom he is given in service, as well as one called to beget new and renewed children in Christ, the priest should take as his example the self-sacrificial attitude of the earthly fathers he meets. Fathers make great sacrifices for their children, and go to great lengths for their good and advancement, and so it needs to be for those who are called to fatherhood in the spiritual order.

To pronounce the words of consecration--or better, to have them spoken by the Lord through us--is the center of each day for the priest. To do so with sacramental validity (that is to say to do so according to the rubrics and to mean to consecrate as the Church understands it) is only the beginning. The words of consecration only come to their full meaning for the priest when he includes himself in them. When he says, "this is my body, which will be given up for you," the priest is also conscious that is offering his own life and body to be broken and given up for the sake of the people of God. He speaks these words in persona Christi, but this also means that he offers his own life on the altar, uniting himself each day to the one sacrifice of Christ.

The picture below is blurry, but not so blurry as to leave any doubt that it is me who is laying hands on the new priest. I have found this particular act and moment to be one of the greatest joys of the spiritual fatherhood of the priesthood. Our new priest, who is to be my successor here at the parish, was the fifth for whom I had this privilege.


Anonymous said...

We just installed a new Provincial last week during Chapter, Fr. Mickey Genovese, and if I'm not mistaken one day this week he will be having dinner with Cardinal Sean. I love your Capuchin brother. One day during this past Triduum I was visiting with a former Augustinian who is still very involved with the Order, and he is working on a book looking at the monk as the model bishop in the early Church, and he said that Cardinal O'Malley perfectly fits that mold.

As an aside, the other day I was reading Merton's Sign of Jonas and came across something that made me think of you:

The Franciscan ideal of poverty seems to have something of the same function in the spiritual life as the ideal of silence and solitude in the purely contemplative Orders.

Just thought that was interesting. Maybe you could write about it one day...

Hope you're doing well :)

Brother Charles said...

I read The Sign of Jonas every couple of years. The material around his ordination gets more and more striking.

The quote is very suggestive. I shall think on it.

Anonymous said...


4narnia said...

thanks for sharing, Fr. C! glad it went well. your point that the words of the Consecration being spoken by the Lord through you, the priest, and it being the center of each day, is so true. that's why daily Mass for all of us Catholic christians is so good for us - the more we are daily communicants , the more we will grow closer to the Lord. PAX! - tara t -