Saturday, April 29, 2017

To men facing ordination

It's about now that chanceries all over the country are sending out letters to seminarians to tell them they're going to be ordained. Shortly thereafter there's a flurry of scheduling the event with family, vestments discussions, and all the rest, but most pressing is often the knowledge of the awesome responsibility entrusted to you. Normally, that comes in the form of wayward thoughts and dreams of flubbing something during the Liturgy by dropping some object or falling or being completely lost. It's a vortex of worry that can swallow you whole if you let it.

Let me tell you something I overheard a priest telling a couple about to be married as he walked them through the service. "This is not performance. This is prayer. You don't need to be worried about messing up if you remember that this is prayer before God." These were words that resonated with me as a young priest more than I think they did for the couple who were more preoccupied with making it to the rehearsal dinner on time than remembering where to stand or the order of things.

So, you men who are to receive the laying on of hands, there is certainly studying to be done, but in the moment when you serve your first Liturgy remember that this is faith in action and not a performance art. That calm, connected feeling you have when you pray is available to you when serving as well. Don't get flustered. For thousands of years men have been trained to serve the Lord. Each has erred in some way or another, improved, and served the Lord better after each correction. You are joining that unbroken chain and it is prayer, practice, and humility that will strengthen you. God is with us!

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

- Isaiah 41:10

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful advice Father.

    As a congregant, when I started thinking of the Altar as also a Throne, the elements of the Divine Liturgy and its choreography made a lot of sense.

    Am I right in this?