Eleven New Priests for the Church
On July 2, the Feast of the Visitation, feast so dear to St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Institute, eleven men were ordained to the holy priesthood by His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patronus of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, at the Church of Ss. Michael and Cajetan in Florence, Italy. The eleven new priests include one American, one Canadian, one British, one Spaniard, while the other seven are natives of France. Many hundreds of faithful came from around the world to witness this heavenly Liturgy of Priestly Ordination which is described below.
The ordination of a priest takes place within the Mass following the Epistle and sung Gradual verse and just before the Alleluia verse. The bishop is seated on the faldstool, which has been placed for him at the middle of the altar, and wearing the miter, he delivers the sermon.
The candidates are vested in amice, alb, maniple, and stole worn in the manner of a deacon. Over the left arm they carry a folded chasuble, the vestment of priesthood; and in the right hand a lighted candle. The first part of the rite consists of the calling of the ordinands and the formal presentation of them to the bishop followed by the bishop's address to the ordinands.
Then the Litany of the Saints is chanted while the candidates humbly lie prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary. Near the end of the Litany, the bishop stands and turns to the ordinands (who remain prostrate on the floor). Holding the crozier in his left hand and still wearing the miter, the bishop chants a blessing upon those to be ordained.
When the litany is ended the candidates rise and go to kneel before the bishop. The bishop places both his hands on the head of each candidate in turn, without saying anything. This very simple though impressive action, unaccompanied by prayer or chant, is called the essential matter of the sacrament. It signifies that the power of priesthood is conferred by the bishop imposing hands on the candidate, transmitting to the latter the power which the bishop himself has received from Christ through the apostles and their successors.
After the bishop has imposed hands on them, they return to their former place and kneel. When all are in place the bishop holds his right hand outstretched over them. Next the priests who are present come forward and lay both their hands on the head of each candidate Then, forming a semicircle beginning at the gospel side, they stand behind the candidates and hold their right hand outstretched over them just as the bishop is doing.
After another prayer, the bishop extends his hands and chants the consecratory preface, of which the following words constitute the essential form of the sacrament: Almighty Father, we pray that Thou wouldst bestow on these servants of Thine the dignity of the priesthood. Renew in their hearts the spirit of holiness, so that they may be steadfast in this second degree of the priestly office received from Thee, O God, and by their own lives suggest a rule of life to others.
After this preface, the newly ordained priests go and kneel before the bishop one by one. The bishop is seated on the faldstool and is wearing the miter. He invests each new priest with the stole and then with the chasuble, leaving it folded and pinned at the back but hanging down in front.
After another prayer, the bishop kneels, facing the altar, and intones the hymn to the Holy Ghost, "Veni Creator Spiritus." After the first verse of the hymn the bishop rises and sits on the faldstool. The ordained come forward and one by one kneel before the bishop. He then takes the oil of catechumens and anoints both of their hands which they hold together palms upward. First he anoints the inside of the hands, tracing a cross from the thumb of the right hand to the index finger of the left, and from the thumb of the left hand to the index finger of the right. Next he anoints the entire palms. He says as he performs the anointings: May it please Thee, O Lord, to consecrate and sanctify these hands by this anointing and our + blessing.
And having made the sign of the cross over the hands of the ordained he continues: That whatever they bless may be blessed, and whatever they consecrate may be consecrated in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then the bishop closes or joins together the hands of the ordained. The latter, keeping his hands joined, goes to the side of the altar where one of the assistants of the bishop binds the consecrated hands together with a white cloth, leaving the fingers free.
The bishop now presents each of the ordained with a chalice containing wine and water and a paten upon it with a host. The ordained touches with the fore and middle fingers both the paten and the cur of the chalice. During this ceremony the bishop says: Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God, and to celebrate Masses for the living and the dead, in the name of the Lord.
Mass is resumed with the singing of the alleluia and its verse. After the offertory antiphon the bishop puts on the miter and is seated. The ordained come to the altar, and two by two kneel before the bishop and present him with a lighted candle, kissing his hand as they do so. After this they return to their places.
From now on all the newly ordained priests pray the Mass along with the bishop, saying all prayers aloud, even those usually said in a low voice.
After Holy Communion and the ablutions, the ordained recite the Creed which is a summary of the faith they will henceforth preach. Afterwards, the bishop sits on the faldstool at the middle of the altar. As the ordained kneel before him one by one, he places both his hands on the head of the ordained and says to each one: Receive the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
Then the bishop unfolds the chasuble, which the ordained has worn folded on his shoulders until now; and as he lets the chasuble drop at the back he says to each one: The Lord clothe you with the robe of innocence.
Then each of the ordained comes again before the bishop, kneels and places his folded hands between the hands of the bishop, making the promise of obedience.
Afterward when the ordained have returned to their place, the bishop offers them an admonition followed by a special priestly blessing. May the blessing of almighty God, Father, + Son, + and Holy + Ghost + come upon you, that you may be blessed in the priestly order, and may offer for the sins and transgressions of the people appeasing sacrifices to almighty God, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever.
Then, having blessed the assembly of the clergy and faithful, the Bishop sits down and speaks a final word to the ordained, saying: My dear sons, ponder well the order you have taken and the burden laid on your shoulders. Strive to lead a holy and devout life, and to please almighty God, that you may obtain His grace. May He in His kindness deign to bestow it on you.
Now that you have been ordained to the priesthood, may I ask you, after you have offered your first Mass, to celebrate three other Masses, namely, one in honor of the Holy Ghost, a second in honor of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, and a third for the faithful departed. I ask you also to pray to almighty God for me.
Following the Mass, it is customary for the newly ordained priests to administer their first priestly blessing.
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