Sunday, May 11, 2008


As you may have caught on Sunday Video on Tap there were five men from the diocese of Cleveland who were ordained to the priesthood this past Saturday, a fine lot of young men and we are very fortunate to have them. Friday night afforded me the opportunity to go to a reception of one of our newly ordained priests for the diocese. It was a nice affair held in the parish hall. Everybody fusses about a newly ordained and so I had just about enough time to shake his hand in congratulations, ask for his blessing, and tell him to journal all of this because it will surprise him how much he will forget.

Participating in ordination weekend is for a priest what it must be like for married persons to go to a wedding. Lots of memories come back.

Okay, that’s a lie. A few memories come back. I had to go back in my journals to really remember the day. It was like a whirlwind and my head was spinning for months after. There are many wonderful and holy moments that took place during those precious days and they are remembered largely because they are written down and there is picture evidence that it actually took place. Perhaps someday I shall talk about that.

I am embarrassed to tell you what my two strongest memories are however.

Okay that was a lie too. I wrote this post to tell you exactly what those two strongest memories are.

The first concerns the Litany of the Saints. While it is sung the priests-to-be lie prostrate on the floor while the saints, that mystical part of the Body of Christ, are called upon pray for those about to be ordained. I’ve heard the Litany and number of hundreds of times before but there was something particularly revelatory about it this time. For the first time I heard these names as true and living members of my family, not just good guys in heaven who might pray for me if I ask. The litany is no longer such an academic thing for me anymore but as real for me as calling out the names of my Mom, Dad, and sisters.

But at the same time, for some unfathomable reason I have an equally deep impression of the floor. I remember thinking, “Wow, this floor is so shiny I can see the chandeliers in the ceiling!” What a terrible thing to remember so clearly during such a solemn occasion.

The other thing remembered is the during the presbyteral laying on of hands. After the bishop laid his hands on our heads, all the present priests are invited to do the same. So we knelt on the marble floor while each of them did so. There were a couple hundred priests so luckily we took the cue from the previous year’s class to wear kneepads. Everything is going along fine when my future pastor, already in his 80s, came and laid his hands on my head and said a prayer. He then leaned over and said, “Looking forward to seeing you at Saint Ambrose,” and then slapped me – HARD – on my cheek like they used to do for confirmation. I heard my family gasp behind me.

I’m glad he did so actually. It stands out in my memory as a happy moment. Perhaps we should bring that back at confirmation. (Maybe not, I could see lawsuits.)

In a similar way I tell brides that it is a good thing that their ceremony was not perfect if something should happen. “That will be something will talk about forever. If it all went well they would say, ‘It was nice’ and that would be the end of it. You’ll appreciate it later.”

I hope that I am right.


Anonymous said...


U nut.

A thank you, one that cannot really be put into words, to those 5 new priests.

Oh, hey.. I lived in terror of that confimandi's Bishop-slap, which turned out to be a wee tap. Similar to going to the gallows, perhaps. Hence, I have no recall of the day..only photos of a skinny poodle (Toni home perm--thanks, Mom) out on the lawn. Let's NOT bring back the resounding slap, lol.

And I'd guess that on bad days, shiny floors is the greatest benefit of living the priesthood.

Anonymous said...

I went to the ordination Saturday, and had trouble finding parking, especially since my sister and I had $2 between us. I saw 3 priests come out of the same street and decided that was a good place to park. Yay for priests running late like me!

We had about 3-4 blocks to walk to the heels. It was at that point that I wished I wore sneakers and brought heels to change into once I found a seat. I'm sure that would've looked strange, but I would've been able to walk much faster.

We walked past all the priests outside waiting for Mass. I love seeing so many priests together. They're a unique group of individuals, and seeing them together reminds me of their great calling.

I spent most of Mass wishing I was taller or that there were televisions in the Cathedral. That's the only time I've ever wished such a thing, but unless you're family, you don't get to see a lot. But I loved loved loved the words of the Mass, the words used during ordination, and Bishop Lennon's homily. The entire Mass truly brought to light the specialness of ordination. Absolutely amazing.

Adoro said...


And you know, it makes perfect sense. I think that some of the most important moments of my life, too, are remembered more in the weird inane details. It's almost as if our brains can't deal with something so wonderful so they force us to focus on something so rational and stupid or we'd implode.

I've heard a lot of people say they were struck in a special way by the Litany of the Saints. And I think they sing the litany when Sisters take vows, too. A year ago at the Easter Vigil when the choir sang the Litany, I remember how I suddenly realized that they were REALLY PRESENT with us...and it blew me away. It was incredible. I can't imagine how profoundly it could have affected you in that moment.