The Priesthood - Fr. Hyland Smith's Ordination

Today was the ordination to the sacred priesthood of (now) Fr. Hyland Smith.  As was the case with the deaconate ordination, the seminarians were enlisted to serve for the Mass.

Last evening, after I got off work at 4 PM, I filled up with gas and cruised over to Springfield, where Fr. Chris Brey had graciously invited the seminarians out to dinner.  Needless to say, the pizza was great and the abundance of ice cream afterwards was also greatly appreciated.  After dinner (and a lot of socializing with the other guys), we went over to the cathedral for practice.  I ended up with the position I have previously occupied at other diocesan Masses, book-holder, and it turned out that the procedure was very similar to the deaconate ordination.  I processed in at the back (which is cool because I get to see everybody as they process in), and then I sit off to the side of the bishop's cathedra ready to walk out and hold the Roman Missal or Rite of Ordination for a Priest [which took forever for me to find online...] for the Bishop.

The first time I had to hold the book was at the beginning of Mass (right after the procession and incensation of the Altar), when I held the Roman Missal for the introductory rites (confiteor, kyrie, gloria, and opening prayer).  I had been holding the book for a minute or two before the bishop got back from the incensation, but nothing was hurting too bad, so I was feeling pretty confident as the confiteor started.  However, by the time the kyrie had been chanted my arms were starting to feel the inexorable pull of gravity.  The base of Bishop Paprocki's cathedra is a step higher than the floor of the sanctuary, so I am standing on the floor and he is standing a step higher and he is also a few feet away from me because there is probably two or three feet of raised platform between his seat and the edge of this step.  This all means that I am several feet away from the bishop and on top of that I am several inches lower than him (due to both the step and my, um, exceptional, height) - anyway, enough with the excuses, holding the Roman Missal through that Gloria was tough.  I guess the Bishop has good eyesight because I think the book was shaking a bit during the end of the gloria and the opening prayer)  Don't get me wrong, I love the position of book-holder, I am in like the best spot to see what is going on, but it still gets tough at times...  

The next thing that I had to do was hold the rite of ordination for the, you know, ordination.  This book is probably half as thick as the Roman Missal, but I had to hold it longer, so my arms still ended up shaking a bit.  First, was the calling forward of Deacon Hyland - The Bishop asks if the people consider him worthy, which they did, and then he came forward and made the promise of obedience to the Bishop.  It was so cool, because I was right there when he put his hands inside the Bishop's and said "I do", and I was a few feet away when Deacon Hyland lay prostrate on the floor during the litany, and I was a few steps back when the Bishop did the laying on of hands and ordained him a priest...  It was so cool to be right there during all of it - yeah, my arms were hurting, and there was that nagging thought of how to hold up the book any longer, but it was definitely worth it.  OK, so there is the super-quick low-down of the Mass.  I could go into detail on how everything happened, but we are in the midst of packing for vacation and, since I haven't been here the last 2 days, I probably should pitch in a bit.

Last, but not least, a brief look at something pretty cool.  On the brief bio that the diocese has for Fr. Hyland  Smith he notes that his favorite scripture verse is John 21:18-22.  

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”  Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?”21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”  Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
Fr. Hyland explains it pretty well: (I quote):

"Peter is troubled by Christ's prophecy of Peter's future martyrdom, and Peter tries to deflect his fate by focusing on another. Jesus says to him, "What is that to you? Follow me!" Too often I look at others rather than my own walk with Christ. Before I left for seminary the Holy Spirit showed me this verse, which reminds me that the only important thing I must do is follow Christ."

On the way up to the ordination I was listening to Catholic Answers, and one of the people who was talking mentioned Nguyễn Văn Thuận, a Bishop who was held for years in solitary confinement in Vietnam (and who's cause has been opened for sainthood), and how he had big plans when assigned to his episcopate, but the country fell into communism and he was immediately imprisoned.  This bishop later wrote down how he gradually grew to understand that it was more important to love Jesus himself rather than working for Jesus.  

"I am happy here, in this cell, where white mushrooms are growing on my sleeping mat, because You are here with me, because You want me to live here with You. I have spoken much in my lifetime: now I speak no more. It's Your turn to speak to me, Jesus; I am listening to You"
So often we forget that the foundation for anything and everything we do must be in love of Our Lord.  That has to be where we start.  Fr. Hyland and this saintly bishop both emphasize following Christ above everything.  Even when our plans don't happen, or Christ asks us go "where we do not want to go", that is precisely when love for Him must "trump" everything else.  That is exactly what the promises that the to-be priest makes require.  (and I'll quote them here because they are just too cool).  
  • Do you resolve, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the Office of Priesthood in the presbyteral rank, as a worthy fellow worker with the Order of Bishops in caring for the Lord’s flock?
  • Do you resolve to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith?
  • Do you resolve to celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church’s tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people?
  • Do you resolve to implore with us God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to your care by observing the command to pray without ceasing?
  • Do you resolve to be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered Himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice, and with Him to consecrate yourself to God for the salvation of all?
  • Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?
Gosh, the vocation of priesthood is so awesome (in both the sense that it inspires awe and it is really cool).  It is so scary to think that I could be called to that life - to living as Christ for the people...  To discharge without fail the Office of Priesthood, to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, to celebrate faithfully and reverently, to pray without ceasing, be united with Christ, the pure sacrifice, and consecrate yourself to God for the salvation of all, to promise respect and obedience to the successor of the Apostles. Yeah, awesome but scary...  And, guess what, the only way that any man will be able to live up to these supernatural standards is by totally, radically, completely, utterly, etc. loving Jesus Christ.  Please pray for Fr. Hyland Smith, as he begins a totally new life, and all of us seminarians as we discern if that same life is what we're called to.  Good thing grace is there!

Final note - Fr. Hyland chose "Tota vita mea Iesu Christo" as his priestly "motto" (it's on the card I got at his first blessing...).  My translation: "My entire life to Jesus Christ"  And that pretty much sums up being a priest...  (easy right?)

Please keep in mind that my Latin translation may not be terribly perfect, and also keep those prayers coming!