This weekend, our Archdiocese had the honor of ordaining four new priests to serve the people of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It is a mass that has many great symbols that help define the sacramental priesthood that Jesus Christ gave to his Church. I would like to explain a few of these symbols:
The first, is that each candidate is called by name. As you have probably noticed, the idea of “name” is connected intimately with many of our sacraments. At Baptism, the first question is “What name have you given your child.” At confirmation, your confirmation name is used before you are anointed. And at ordination, the man is called by name. This is symbolic of the reality that God calls each candidate for the priesthood by name. It is not a general invitation to this particular sacrament, but is an intentional seeking out of this man for this particular duty within the Church.
The bishop also lays his hands on the head of each candidate for ordination. This is the moment where the bishop calls down the Holy Spirit to transform the soul of the man for ordination. Holy Orders is only one of three sacraments that permanently changes the soul (the other two are baptism and confirmation). They laying on of hands is found through the Bible, all the way back through the Old Testament.
Next the priest is vested with the chasuble for the first time. This is the primary garment that the priest wears at mass. Often, the new priest will have a friend or a mentor vest him for his ordination. I asked Fr. Mark Juettner to vest me because he was my mentor priest for my four years of major seminary.
The bishop will then pour the holy oil of the Sacred Chrism on the hands of the newly ordained priest. The hands are consecrated because it is through them that sacraments will be ministered, such as the Eucharist or Anointing of the Sick. This is the same Sacred Chrism that is used at baptism and confirmation.
Finally, each newly ordained priest receives the gifts of the people: The bread and the wine that is to be used for consecration at the mass. At the heart of the priesthood is the celebration of the mass, and thus it is fitting that each newly ordained priest will receive these gifts that will be become a central part of his life as a priest.
The ordination rituals are very powerful symbols and a sacrament for the life of the Church. I would request that you pray for these four newly ordained priests. It is possible that one of these newly ordained priests will be the one to give any of us our Last Rites before we meet God face to face. Let us ask God to give them the graces to be holy ministers of the sacraments who guide us ever more closely to the heart of Jesus where we find mercy and love itself.
Please pray for Fr. Andrew Zipp, Fr. Joseph Connelly, Fr. Louis Floeder and Fr. Joseph Gifford.
Fr. Nels Gjengdahl