The diocese was blessed May 26 by the ordination of three newly-minted priests. The two and one-half hour liturgy was resplendent in its beauty and symbolism. The Rite of Ordination begins with the Director of Diocesan Priestly Vocations attesting to the candidates’ worthiness. Then the candidates promise to fulfill their duties and responsibilities of the priesthood by placing their hands between those of the bishop, promising respect and obedience to him and his successors. The candidates then prostrate themselves as the assembly sings the Litany of the Saints. The conferring of the sacrament of Holy Orders involves, as in most sacraments, the laying on of hands. The bishop imposed his hands first, then all the other priests. Each candidate was invested with a stole and chasuble. Their hands were anointed with sacred Chrism showing that these priests participate in the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. (A linen cloth is used to wipe the chrism, and these cloths are presented to the mothers of the priests during the First Mass.) Finally there is the fraternal “Peace be with you” as the bishop and all concelebrating priests give a sign of welcome into the Order of the Priesthood.
Diocesan priests do not live in community the way religious order priests do. In large parishes priests may live together in the rectory, and I’m sure bonds of friendship and camaraderie are often formed. (I hear jokes between the priests at weekend Masses sometimes.) However, even when a priest lives alone, he has the memory of the fraternal “Peace be with you,” the sign of welcome. I imagine that the Twelve Apostles had special bonding. Peter, James, and John seemed to be selected as special friends of Jesus. Perhaps the four had other excursions besides going up to Tabor. At the Transfiguration the three apostles felt close to Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. And did they say to one another, “I love being here with you guys”?