During the nine days prior to their priestly ordination, let us pray together for our 33 deacons at this very extraordinary transition in their lives.
We will reflect on different themes related to their priestly vocation, asking God for the many graces that they will need to fulfill this vocational calling. We also suggest that you pray the Rosary each day, asking Our Lady to intercede for them.
The deacons will be in Spiritual Exercises during these same nine days, December 8-15, spending time in intimate conversation with Christ and making final preparations for their call to the priesthood.
Your prayers during these days will be a significant support.
Let us begin with an initial reflection: a poem, written by an anonymous seminarian, whose sentiments were surely similar to those of the deacons at this time.
When God comes in the quiet time
Circling your heart
Gently tugging at your soul
Calling you apart
From those on wider roads
And stands you at a gate
A pathway to another life
You hesitate and wait
For surety and pealing bells
That prove that you are called.
But Jesus speaks in quiet tones
Inviting, waiting, wanting all
Your passion, strength and heart
For service in His Church
But I, oh Lord, can it be I?
You pray, you fear, you search.
Until it comes to this:
Standing at that simple gate
With Father, Spirit, Lord of Light
You find that you cannot wait
To run and climb and trudge
And walk and seek and serve
Along this lovely, lonely, joyous path.
To mount each hill, to round each curve.
The Spirit guides you through the valleys
And boulder-clotted streams,
Your brothers smile and share their stories
Though dark may come, you see the gleam
Of Holiness along the path you’ve trod
Working miracles among the children,
The people, the Kingdom of God.
Hear me Lord, I thank you for these wings
I feared might weigh me down
My life soars
Beneath this yoke,
This yoke of Light of Yours.
Day 1 December 7, 2017. In Gratitude for their Generous Response to God’s Call
He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. -Luke 10:2
O Lord, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. Pour forth your spirit upon these deacons, who, throughout many years, have discerned their calling to the priesthood. As they approach his ordination, free them from temptations so that their minds and hearts may be fixed on the One who called them.
Let us pray:
Open their hearts to embrace the crucified and risen Lord as the response to their search for love, personal meaning, and happiness. Enlighten their minds to understand that the Lord is the beginning and end of every personal story, the focal point and the center of life, the joy of every human heart, and the answer to all questions and yearnings. Help them to see that when God calls, he gives everything and takes nothing away – nothing that makes life complete, beautiful, and great. May the voice of Christ echo in the silence of their hearts. May the gaze of Christ reach the depths of their very being to discover that their calling in life is only found in the Eucharistic Lord. Don’t let fear prevail over them. Dispel from their hearts all discouragements and doubts. We ask this through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of Christ the high Priest and the Mother of all priests and seminarians.
Day 2 December 8, 2017 The Priest, A Son of Mary
We must ask Mary especially for the grace of knowing how to accept God’s gift with grateful love, fully appreciating it as she did in the Magnificat—the grace of generosity in self-giving, in order to imitate her example as a generous mother; the grace of purity and fidelity in the obligation of celibacy, following her example as the faithful Virgin; the grace of burning, merciful love, in the light of her witness as the Mother of Mercy. – John Paul II
Let us pray:
Mary, we entrust our deacons to you in a special way as they approach their priestly ordination, in which they will become one with Christ, your Son. Take them under your mantle; adopt them as your sons as you did St. John at the foot of the Cross. Guide and encourage them in their priestly ministry; fill them with confidence in God; teach them to love Jesus as you do.
Mother, be their model of surrender, trust, and love. You said yes to the will of God, embracing his plan without knowing where he would lead you. It was a yes that you renewed each day, in every trial, joy, and sorrow. May the deacons learn to seek your companionship and entrust to you their hopes and worries. You, who were the first disciple of Christ, help them to proclaim, bear witness, and give Christ to the world. Mary, Mother of Priests, pray for us!
Day 3 December 9, 2017 The Need For the Priesthood
If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest — always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest. -St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests
Let us pray:
Lord, your death granted us forgiveness for our sins, and your resurrection opened the gates of Heaven to us. We thank you for this most undeserved gift. May Christ’s Paschal Mystery always be at the center of these deacons’ minds, hearts, and souls; inspiring every aspect of their ministry. Instill within them hearts of gratitude for the great gift to which they have been called. Help them always to reflect upon the pearl of great price that is the priesthood, which is more precious than any worldly temptation. Keep them faithful to those promises that they have made, and give them the grace to grow in love and understanding of those promises throughout their lives. May they follow the example of the many faithful priests who have gone before them and spend themselves entirely for the salvation of souls. Throughout their lifetimes they will welcome souls to the Church through Baptism, reconcile them with you in the sacrament of Confession, confirm them in their faith, unite them in the sacrament of Matrimony, and prepare them for their final encounter with you in death. May they always consider themselves a bridge between God and man, a sign of the Father’s unconditional love that goes in search of the lost sheep. We ask this through Jesus Christ, the High Priest whose priesthood they share.
Day 4 December 10, 2017 For a Zealous Missionary Heart
Day after day, it’s necessary to learn that I do not possess my life for myself. Day by day, I must learn to abandon myself; to keep myself available for whatever he, the Lord, needs of me at a given moment, even if other things seem more appealing and more important to me: this means giving life, not taking it. -Pope Benedict
Let us pray:
Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of these deacons with a love for Christ that drives them to proclaim the message of salvation in all that they do. May their ministry reveal your presence in the world. Put your word on their lips and your love in their hearts, to bring good news to the poor and healing to the brokenhearted. When they preach, give them the courage to proclaim the truth of the Gospel, even if it is demanding. Keep strong in them the desire to be shepherds with the “smell of the sheep”, shepherds who dwell among their flocks, who make themselves the servants who wash the feet of their beloved friends, willing to lay down their very lives for them. As the apostles went to the ends of the earth to proclaim the message of salvation, give them the same burning zeal that all would come to know you. Through Christ, our Lord.
Day 5 December 11, 2017 The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Priest’s Life
Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. -John 6:52-56
Let us pray:
Grant we pray, to each of the deacons, an increased love for the Holy Eucharist, the “source and summit” of God’s covenant of love. May this great miracle, made present by the hands of your holy priests upon the altar, fill their hearts with the earnest and unending desire to continue to lay down their own lives for the service of your Holy Church. Increase their faith, Lord. Pour upon them your infinite grace, so that from consecration to adoration, they may never grow weary of serving you. May they always be rooted in an unwavering and indispensable love for the Eucharist, a love that compels them to bring this Sacrament to all God’s people, so that all may experience the Risen Christ and know his unending love and mercy. We ask this through Mary our blessed Mother, all your holy saints and angels, and through your Son, Christ our Lord.
Day 6 December 12, 2017 The Sacrament of Reconciliation, An Encounter with Christ’s Merciful Heart
Only those who have known the Father’s tender embrace, as the Gospel describes it in the parable of the Prodigal Son—’he embraced him and kissed him’ (Lk 15:20)—only they can pass on to others the same warmth, when after receiving pardon themselves they administer it to others. -John Paul II
Let us pray:
Lord, you have called the deacons to be your ministers of mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. May they themselves constantly discover your forgiveness through their own confession, and turn to share that forgiveness with every person they encounter within this Sacrament. May they always see themselves as a bridge between God and man, as an open door for anyone who seeks reconciliation with you. Give them the gift of counsel and discernment, to find the right words of comfort and guidance for all who seek light in the confessional. May they reflect your mercy and help to bring many souls back to you, who live and reign forever and ever.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Day 7 December 13, 2017 The Priest as a Spiritual Father
When each of you was called to the priesthood, God remade you in persona Christi. The more fully you live that truth, the more truly you radiate it to the people you encounter who are searching for God, the more profoundly you’ll draw others to share in the same joy. And that’s how the renewal of the Church and the remaking of the world can begin.
-Cardinal Raymond Burke
Let us pray:
Father in Heaven, in calling these deacons to the priesthood, you have given them the gift of being spiritual fathers to the many people they will meet throughout their lives. Help them to live out this calling with love and generosity: giving example of a virtuous life, guiding and correcting their spiritual sons and daughters in a firm but gentle way, and providing for their spiritual needs with untiring generosity. We thank You for choosing them from among us, so that they may understand us as we understand them, suffer with us and rejoice with us, worry with us and trust with us, accompanying us in the joys and sorrows of this life. Allow both them and the people they serve to mutually benefit from this unique relationship and grow ever closer to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Help them to mend the brokenhearted with fatherly love and tender compassion. May their lives be a constant reminder that we are made to rest with you for all eternity in our heavenly homeland.
Day 8 December 14, 2017 For Strength in the Struggles they will Endure
Keep them I pray Thee, dearest Lord,
Keep them, for they are Thine;
Thy priests whose lives burn out before Thy consecrated shrine.
Keep them for they are in the world though from the world apart;
When earthly pleasures tempt, allure— shelter them in Thy Heart.
Keep them, and comfort them in hours of loneliness and pain,
When all their life of sacrifice for souls seems but in vain.
Keep them, and remember, O Lord, they have no one but Thee.
Yet they have only human hearts, with human frailty.
Keep them as spotless as the Host, that daily they caress.
Their every thought and word and deed,
deign, dearest Lord, to bless. Amen. -Anonymous
Let us pray:
Lord, we entrust our deacons to you as they prepare to commit themselves to follow you closely throughout the rest of their lives. You have chosen them, weak and sinful men, to be your priests. Help them to remember that without you, they cannot do anything. May they encounter you each day in prayer, seeking your grace and strength as they face the challenges of daily life. In their loneliness, comfort him; in their frustrations, help them to purify their love for you. Show them that they are needed by the Church and by souls in the work of redemption. May they find encouragement in their community life, meaning in their apostolate, and consolation in intimacy with you. We ask you to please bless all priests, especially those who are suffering or struggling. May their suffering be a path to a deeper relationship with Christ. May our deacons learn to place all their struggles before you, trusting in the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the angels and saints, through Christ our Lord.
Day 9 December 15, 2017 For the Souls they will Help with the Sacraments
The Beautiful Hands of a Priest
We need them in life’s early morning,
we need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of friendship,
we seek them when tasting life’s woes.
At the altar each day we behold them,
and the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their
greatness; their dignity stands all alone;
And when we are tempted and wander
to pathways of shame and sin,
It’s the hand of a priest that will absolve
us—-not once, but again and again;
And when we are taking life’s partner,
other hands may prepare us a feast,
But the hand that will bless and unite
us is the beautiful hand of a priest.
God bless them and keep them all holy
For the Host which their fingers caress;
When can a poor sinner do better than
to ask Him to guide thee and bless?
When the hour of death comes upon us
may our courage and strength be increased.
By seeing raised over us in anointing the
beautiful hands of a priest! -Author Unknown
Let us pray:
Lord, you have called our deacons to become channels of grace, instruments of your love, for many souls. We, your faithful people, thank you for these new priests for the Church, especially for the Sacraments that they will celebrate. May they baptize many people, bringing them into the life of the Trinity and the joy of belonging to the Church. In the confessions they hear, may they look upon the repentant sinner with the compassionate and merciful eyes of a loving father. In the Masses they celebrate, they will stand in the place of Christ and provide spiritual food and nourishment for those in attendance. May those they confirm in the Faith put on the armor of Christ and persevere as counter-cultural witnesses of the joy of Christian living. As they witness the budding love of a couple who unite themselves in Holy Matrimony, may their own witness of their love for his Spouse the Church provide an enduring example of covenantal relationship. When they anoint the sick and minister to the dying, they will fortify them in their weakness and prepare them for the journey ahead. As they accompany souls in their walk with you, may they discover more and more the great love that you have for them. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Ordination Day December 16, 2017
Boyhood dreams of long ago
Saw an altar fair,
Consecrated, trembling hands
Lifted there in prayer
And those dreams have led me on
Dreamlike though they seemed
Now, dear friend, thank God with me
I am what I have dreamed.
Other dreams have I today
Bright in spite of fears,
That this human heart may be
Christlike through the years
Think of me then, when you pray,
That this dream may come true
Bowed before God’s holy throne
In prayer, I’ll think of you.
-Archbishop Philip M. Hannan, 1939
Today we unite our prayer of thanksgiving to that of the new priests and their families, for the wonderful gift of their priestly vocations. We pray that they will always remain faithful to Christ, to the Church, and to the salvation of souls.
Summary of the Rite of Ordination, with an explanation of the different moments
During the Rite of Ordination, the candidate, in the presence of the bishop and the faithful, expresses his resolve to carry out his office in accord with the mind of Christ and of the Church, under the direction of the bishop. After the candidate is presented, the bishop elects him for ordination with the people’s consent, signified by their applause.
During the Examination of the Candidate, the soon-to-be priest confirms his intention to serve in the office of priest with a clear conscience and prayerful spirit after the example of Jesus. He pledges obedience to the bishop and to his successors, since the priest serves under the authority of the bishop.
During the Litany of Saints, the intercession of the saints and martyrs in heaven is invoked to intercede for the candidate and the pilgrim Church on Earth, asking God to pour forth His grace and mercy.
Then, through the Laying on of Hands by the bishop and the Prayer of Ordination, the gift of the Holy Spirit for the priestly office is conferred on the candidate. The other priests in attendance lay hands on him to signify incorporation into the priesthood. A brother priest then vests the new priest in a stole and chasuble, signs of the office of ministerial priesthood.
The bishop anoints the newly ordained priest’s hands with holy chrism, praying, “The Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, guard you and preserve you that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God.” He then places the bread and wine into the new priest’s hands, indicating the priest’s duty to preside at the celebration of the Eucharist and to follow Christ crucified.
Then, by the sign of peace, the bishop welcomes the newly ordained as a coworker in the ministry, and the priests in attendance come forward to welcome him into the Order of Presbyters.
Let us pray: