Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Sacrament of Holy Orders on an Anniversary

In sticking with the theme of Sacraments, it is notable today that the "sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred, in each of its three degrees," [bishop, priest, deacon] "by means of the imposition of hands on the head of the ordinand by the Bishop who pronounces the solemn prayer of consecration. With this prayer he asks God on behalf of the ordinand for the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for the gifts of the Spirit proper to the ministry to which he is being ordained" (Compendium of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church , 331). This is notable today because it was three years ago on this day, 24 January 2004, along with 24 other men, I knelt before His Excellency, the Most Reverend George Hugh Niederauer, then-Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, before the cathedra you see pictured above, which is in The Cathedral of the Madeleine, pledged my respect and obediance to him and to his successors, and received by the laying on of his hands, the Sacrament of Holy Orders to the degree of deacon, thus entering the clerical state.

Two of my brothers who were ordained that day, Aniceto Armendariz and Gerald Shea, have gone home to be with the Lord. A third, Scott Chisholm, a retired professor and author, most notably of Following the Wrong God Home: Footloose in an American Dream, suffered a debilitating stroke a little over two years ago, the week after our annual diocesan deacon's retreat. So, it has been quite a journey so far, a lot like that of any family with its ups and downs, its tears and joy.

Along with the Sacrament of Matrimony, Holy Orders is a Sacrament in the service of communio. According to the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, these two sacraments "confer a special grace for a particular mission in the Church to serve and build up the People of God. These sacraments contribute in a special way to ecclesial communion and to the salvation of others" (Comp. 321). "Holy Orders," according to the Compendium, "designates an ecclesial body into which one enters by means of a special consecration (ordination). Through a special gift of the Holy Spirit, this sacrament enables the ordained to exercise a sacred power in the name and with the authority of Christ for the service of the People of God" (Comp. 323).

"The deacon, configured to Christ the servant of all, is ordained for service to the Church. He carries out this service under the authority of his proper bishop by the ministry of the Word, of divine worship, of pastoral care and of charity" (Comp, 330). Finally, the Sacrament of Holy Orders, like Baptism and Confirmation, "confers an indelible spiritual character and therefore cannot be repeated or conferred for a limited time."

Holy Mary, Mother of God - pray for us
St. Stephen - pray for us
St. Philip- pray for us
St. Ephrem the Syrian - pray for us
St. Lawrence- pray for us
St. Vincent of Sargossa- pray for us
St. Francis of Assisi- pray for us
St. Nicholas Ferrar- pray for us
St. Alcuin of York - pray for us
All holy deacons - pray for us
All holy men and women - pray for us

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