December 13 was an amazing day. 35 of my Legionary brothers were ordained priests here in Rome at St. John Lateran (click here to see my post on the Lateran Basilica). Many of their family and friends traveled here for their big day, the vast majority of them arriving here from across oceans. Many came from across the Atlantic- USA, Mexico, and South America, while some even came from Australia and New Zealand as a native Aussie and two Kiwis were ordained.
The new priests processing out after Mass
For some this was a once in a lifetime trip, finally made after so many years of waiting for their son/brother/friend to make through the long period of formation and preparation. For others, it was a truly unique opportunity to participate in a Mass of priestly ordination. One group had a particularly good time, coming to dub this event the "priest bowl." As they got to know many other brothers while in Rome, they resolved that they would have to make the annual trip overseas to participate in the priest bowl for years to come.
A new priest's homily in his 1st Mass
The ordination Mass was beautiful, but I find it easy to say that the days immediately following were just as emotionally and spiritually intense as these new priests celebrated their first Masses for family and friends. I have shared the moment of consecration from some of these Masses on Vine (click here). Homilies were often interrupted by choked voices, swallows, moments of silence taken to reign in surging emotions. I was so proud of these men, my friends and brothers, who are now bringing the sacraments of Christ, and with them eternal life, to so many.
One of the new priests
It struck me in a particular way to hear them saying the words "this is my body" and "this is my blood." Of course, they say these words in persona Christi, but it struck me that, in a few years, I will be the one saying these words; and saying these words, how could I not, experiencing Christ's immense love for us when he comes to us in the Eucharist, want to repeat, imitate, make true in my own life the truth those words express? This can be our experience of Mass every day, every time we participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. This is the desire that has been in my heart in these days since seeing my brothers ordained: I want to offer my body and my blood for the glory of God the Father, following the example of these brothers of mine who are leading the way and for whose example I am so grateful, but above all following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, this is the hope and glory of Christmas: our savior is born, our Lord is come to save us. Alleluia!
Nativity scene recently unveiled in St. Peter's square