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.