Kneel As Deacon... Rise As Priest

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

J.M. + J.T.

On 10 May 2008, a day before the great feast of Pentecost, six deacons were ordained into the presbyterite for the Archdiocese of Miami by Archbishop John C. Favalora.

Thanks to one of the Carmelite Sisters from my school, who pulled some strings to clear my schedule, I was able to attend. A priest from my parish gave me, three other guys my age - who made up Father's discernment group - and a soon-to-be seminarian a ride to St. Mary's Cathedral. On the way there, he explained to us the parts of the Mass and the Rite of Ordination, adding interesting facts and comments.

We arrived about an hour and a half early to the cathedral, but better safe than sorry: the pews were just about completely full about half an hour before the Mass began. We got a pretty good view, being able to see the entire sanctuary, though not even close to the amazing view the Carmelite Sisters from my school had from their specially reserved section on the left side of the cathedral. Sister later told me that she could see the now Father Vigoa cry as he rose from the floor after the Litany of the Saints, and the Archbishop anoint his hands with the holy chrism.

Sister and I concurred that no words could fully describe the beauty and wonder of the Mass, so all I can say is: go for yourself and see!

However, what I can say is this:

Seeing these men, who entered the Mass as deacons, kneel down before the Archbishop, receive his hands upon their head, and get up as priests, truly fanned the flame inside my heart. We go in and out of Mass the same, in the sense that we remain either lay people or priests or religious, but these men left the Eucharist new men, the new man: JESUS CHRIST.

After the Mass, as Father had told us, the six "baby priests" - as I've heard them being called many times - gave their first blessings to the faithful who lined up before them. Now, Father had told us in the car that we would probably not have the time to receive a blessing from them - especially not from Father Vigoa, who comes from our parish, but he was only half right. His mother, who was also in attendance, saved us a spot in line for Father Malzacher, who is assigned to a parish near by. Father Vigoa's line was to the back of the room.

Kneeling down before this newly ordained presbyter was another amazing experience for me. There wasn't enough time for me to truly take in what was happening, but I knelt down, placed my arms wherever they went, not wanting to waste too much time, and closed my eyes. I heard Father pray that "the blessing of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit descend upon [me] and remain with [me] forever." (Or, at least that's what I think I remember him saying.) I got up, a little disappointed that I couldn't just stay kneeling to meditate upon what just happened, but left giving Father a shake and a "Congratulations!"

Before leaving for lunch, we said hello to a few people, and I got to see a seminarian who I had met on that Vocations Awareness Weekend at St. John's back in March. Apparently, Father's mother used to give him haircuts when he was younger, and she wanted her son to get to know him. When I heard her say he is a seminarian named Erik, I could only smile: Divine Providence struck again!

We left for lunch - with Father's mother tagging along in her car - and enjoyed three huge pizzas between the seven of us. Father told his discernment group (which I sort of unofficially became a part of by just being there with them, I guess) that, though he was being reassigned to another parish quite a distance away, he did not want the discernment group to end. First off, he highly recommended - if not, ordered - that we find ourselves a personal spiritual director. He then told us that, since he is friends with newly ordained Father Malzacher, and since Father is assigned to a nearby parish, he would speak to him and ask if he could help continue the group. One of the guys mentioned that "our" Father Vigoa mentioned that he wished to help too.

The providential thing is: I had been thinking about asking Father Malzacher to be my spiritual director. After all, I received the Eucharist from him, one of his first blessings, and he is assigned to a parish very close by. Despite Sister wishing there was a way that Father Vigoa were closer so that he could be my spiritual director, I really hope it will work out with Father Malzacher. If not, I'll try to learn more about the newly ordained priest assigned to my parish. (But, I don't know; there's something about Father Malzacher...)

Please pray for these new presbyters! They said it themselves: they want to be holy priests!


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