The experience of Ordination day
(Originally written on June 4, 2006)
Ireland '06!! In the spirit and tradition of our good friend, Msgr Thomas Wells, some buddies and I are going to Ireland today until June 14. Should be a fun trip...lots o golf and seeing God's Country.
It's still hard for me to put into words what happened last Saturday, May 27, at my Ordination to the priesthood and first Mass of Thanksgiving, but I'll try. In general terms, it was an experience of the Holy Spirit...the glory of God...the kingdom of Heaven. It was awesome!!
I was moved powerfully by the Spirit at the Ordination. During the Rite of Ordination, the twelve of us lay prostrate while the Church sang the Litany of Saints. I internally made my promises for my life as a priest to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. It was intense. I laid down my life as I laid on the floor, and asked the Holy Trinity to help me live out my promises. It brought many tears because it was one of the most profound and serious senses of intimacy I've ever had.
Then, after the laying on of hands (the moment of ordination), all of the priests - about 200 - laid hands on each of us twelve. Tears again! The picture from The Washington Post didn't show them which was probably cool. Again, I really can't put into words why I was crying and was moved so much, other than to say it was the Holy Spirit. What that means is that I was open to receiving the Spirit in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and was REALLY receiving the Spirit (I remember reading once that the gift of tears is a gift of the Spirit). So, at the Ordination, when I wasn't shedding tears of joy, I was smiling with great joy!!
After the almost 3 hour Ordination, I gave "first blessings" for over an hour. That was intense, too! The coolest and most powerful part was when people kissed my hands. My hands were anointed with sacred Chrism just after the laying on of hands, and now are the hands of Christ (when I perform the sacraments). That was one of the moments that told me things were different, and that now I'm a priest!
The first Mass which was later that evening...I was never really nervous - too happy to be nervous. We had many different things going on in the Mass, and I was very focused on them. Everything went so well, thanks be to God, and it really was a glorious liturgy. It was a normal Sunday vigil Mass with a few things added: a friend of mine coming into the Church, and Adoration and Procession of Jesus in the Eucharist in front of about 200 youth around the altar area.
From what I've gathered, many people at the first Mass had a very powerful spiritual experience. Again, it was an experience of the Holy Spirit. At one point in the Adoration and Procession, I could feel all 1000 sets of eyes on Jesus in the Eucharist. If that's true or even close to being true, then we all had the same experience - a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit in the person of a newly ordained priest. Faith is awesome stuff!! It's all about faith!