Today I had the rare privilege to witness six stellar young men be sealed with the grace of the Holy Spirit and receive an indelible mark upon their souls as they were ordained to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral. It was a magnificent ordination Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Jerome Listecki, Bishop Donald Hying, Bishop Emeritus Richard Sklba, as well as dozens of diocesan and ordered priests. The Cathedral was packed to standing room capacity for the nearly three-hour outpouring of God’s Divine Grace.
Hearts swelled as the choir and congregation sang out: “O God, Beyond All Praising,” for the Entrance Procession. Sacred Scripture was proclaimed in both English and Spanish. The six young men, whose ordination to the transitional diaconate we witnessed only 12 short months ago, were called forth and stood before Archbishop Listecki, as the beautiful ritual began. Archbishop Listecki reminded the deacons and the congregation of the arduous hours each of these candidates had labored in preparation for this prodigious moment. As I reflected on Archbishop Listecki’s homily, I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort knowing that the future of Catholicism rests in hands as capable as those of these fine young men.
As the ritual progressed, the white alb-clad candidates were questioned by Archbishop Listecki, and pledged their obedience to him and his successors. Each man then lay prostrate, his face to the marble floor, while the Litany of Supplication was chanted by the entire congregation. This beautiful ancient prayer unites the entire assembly in prayer with the Communion of Saints, storming Heaven in supplication for the requisite graces these young men need for the fulfillment of their chosen vocation.
Later, as the candidates knelt before the Archbishop, he placed his hands upon each of them in silent prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to fill each of them with wisdom and grace. Bishops Hying and Sklba also laid their hands upon each candidate in prayer, and then each concelebrating priest did likewise. Year to year, I love this moment! The unity in the brotherhood of priests is visible. As each priest prays over his brother priest there is a sense of mystery and awe: an unbroken line of grace, being transmitted through mere human instruments, inspiring those receiving it to fulfill their role in Persona Christi with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Veni Creator Spiritus! With his hands extended over the candidates, Archbishop Listecki then prayed the Prayer of Ordination. Each newly ordained priest was then vested in his stole and chasuble (the symbols of his office) by a priest of his choosing. As the ritual continued to unfold, Archbishop Listecki anointed the palms of the newly ordained priests with Holy Chrism. Bread and wine were then presented to each newly ordained priest by the Archbishop to signify the role in presiding at the Holy Eucharist. As the rite of Ordination drew to completion, the Archbishop and fellow Bishops individually greeted the newly ordained priests with a fraternal embrace.
My tears flowed as the mothers of the newly ordained priests brought the gifts of bread and wine to their sons, and the Archbishop. These mothers here embraced the sons whom they had once nourished as children, who in turn would now nourish them with the Body and Blood of Christ. The Consecration was magnificent. I can only imagine the joy these newly ordained priests and their families felt.
After the final blessing and procession, there was time for photos and hugs. Through the years, our family has grown very fond of one of the newly ordained priests. From a distance, we watched our friend Ryan cope with the rigorous academic challenges of seminary life. We were present last year in this same cathedral as he was ordained to the transitional diaconate in preparation for this monumental day. Over the past few weeks we have seen his vestments and chalice present in the sanctuary of St. Peter Church – waiting as if nearly ready for their new owner to fulfill the purpose for which they were created. Now we witnessed this amazing young man complete his path to ordination, and take his first steps in Persona Christi. Wow!
There is a tradition that the blessing of a new priest is abundantly fruitful. As our family knelt in blessing before our friend Fr. Ryan, I felt a sense of awe and gratitude. Who can know the Mind of God? It is incomprehensible how Our Lord should call a unique group of chosen men to stand in His place on Earth, and communicate His love sacramentally. The mystery is so profound that the human mind cannot fathom its depths. Likewise, it is a mystery how mere men can have the fortitude to respond to God’s call to sacrifice all to become fishers of men. As our Lord Himself said: “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19: 26).” I am immensely grateful to both God and these men for allowing His Holy Spirit to turn possibility into reality.
On this day, in response to such a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it is fitting to continue our novena in preparation for the Feast of Pentecost. As we continue this novena, please pray in a special way for these newly ordained priests:
Rev. Yamid Jose Blanco Ariza Rev. Juan Manuel Camacho Porras
Rev. Brad Alan Krawszyk Rev. Ryan Joseph Pruess
Rev. Jacob Alexander Strand Rev. Carlos Alberto Zapata Munoz
This novena to the Holy Spirit is currently prayed each day after Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill.
Each day the Preparatory prayer is:
O Holy Spirit, Divine Consoler!
I adore You as my Triune God.
I bless You by uniting myself to the praises You receive from the angels and saints.
I offer You my whole heart, and I render You heartfelt thanks for all the benefits You have bestowed and unceasingly bestow upon the world. You are the author of all supernatural gifts and Who did enrich with immense favors the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, I beseech You to visit me by Your Grace and Your Love, and grant me the favor I so earnestly seek in this novena. . . .(state your request here). O Holy Spirit, Spirit of all Truth, come into our hearts: shed the brightness of your light on all nations, that they may be of one faith and pleasing to You. Amen.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your Love.
(Recite the prayer of the appropriate day)
O Holy Spirit, make me faithful in every thought, grant that I may always listen to your voice, and watch for Your Light, and follow your gracious inspirations. I cling to You, and give myself to you, and ask You by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced feet of Jesus, looking at His five wounds, trusting in His Precious Blood, adoring His open side and stricken Heart, I implore You adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace, now and always, grant us the favor we ask in this novena. . . (state your request here). . .Amen.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your love.
May the Holy Spirit give you His peace!
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mary Anne, You captured the day so beautifully! One of my favorite moments is when the mother’s bring the gifts to the altar. I always think of the Fourth Station of the Cross at this point. Seeing Ryan crying with his mother, just unleashed my tears as well. It’s so powerful to witness so many priests for the laying on of hands! I couldn’t help but feel that the walls of the Cathedral were just soaking in the rich prayer. Such a holy day! Thanks for writing about it!
Thank you for the kind words. Wasn’t it awesome! You express it so beautifully. Yes, I too felt the very walls of the Cathedral were steeped in prayer. One could palpably feel the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. How awesome for you to be there present as your son embarks upon the same journey. I hope to return to St. John the Evangelist Cathedral for both his ordination to the transitional diaconate and priestly ordination. We met at the initiation of Fr. Ryan’s seminary life, and these years have flown by. What a fine priest he will make. Time will pass with the same rapidity for your son John. Our prayers remain with him and you as he enters the seminary. Yes, my dear, I had a similar feeling regarding the Fourth Station as Fr. Ryan hugged his mom. The words of the second verse of “Sing of Mary” came to mind: “Constant was the love He gave Her, though He went forth from Her side, forth to preach and heal and suffer, ’till on Calvary He died.”
Mary Anne, thank you so much for your presence there yesterday and along the journey towards priesthood. Your families presence in my life and the prayers that you offer for me have meant so much over the years. I am looking forward to continuing this journey as a priest. Thank you so much for writing so eloquently about this very joyful day.
You are a blessing in our lives! Thank you for the kind comments. I cannot tell you how much it meant to be present there yesterday. I could feel the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. You and your classmates truly give us hope that the Holy Catholic Church will prosper and persevere for future generations. Wth the utmost admiration, our family has watched you progress from seminarian to Holy Priest. Your fiat is an inspiration to us all. Your love for the Faith is contagious. Your work with vocations in the Remnant Camps has done so much good. Kenny and the others are indebted you for all of your diligent efforts. You will make an amazing priest. I am eager to stand back and see how the the Holy Spirit works miracles in your life, and through your life. God Bless you Fr. Ryan!
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
It was such a blessing to be with your and your family at the ordination Mass yesterday! I hope that you can all be at my ordination in five years!
Thank you Jacob. It was a blessing to claim our place along the wall with you. Thank you for putting up with my squirmy little ones. I was deeply moved my your generous offer to pray with my discerning young men, while sharing your relic of St. John Vianney. It was indeed a well blessed event. We look forward to watching the Holy Spirit poured forth upon you at your ordination- just 5 short years from now. As a vowed Jesuit, your twelve-year rigorous journey to the priesthood is a profound witness of your love for Christ. You will make an amazing priest, a worthy spouse for the Bide of Christ.
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Putting up with your squirming little ones is no problem at all; they are a treasure of the Church!
Thank you Jacob! They are indeed a treasure and a reminder that the Almighty must have a sense of humor. He sends me daily doses of humility wrapped in tiny persons who squirm and giggle at the most in opportune moments.
How blessed your diocese is to have six new priests. We laity must always pray that our priests will be holy and full of the love of God for us.
Thank you for the comment Barb. I love your post on Sabbath Moments and the Sixth Degree of Humility at: http://www.sufferingwithjoy.com/2012/05/19/sabbath-moments-89/. Thank you so much for stopping by! joing you in praying for all priests,