Early summer is a favorite time of year for me. Yes, the clouds have finally parted, hinting at warmer days ahead, but this season is also filled with an abundance of sacraments.
Recently (and in the span of two weeks, I might add), five friends of mine became engaged. Another celebrated her first wedding anniversary after welcoming and baptizing her son just weeks earlier. And then there are the many young men I know across three dioceses who have prepared for their diaconate or priestly ordinations.
Over the years, I’ve been blessed to attend a number of ordinations. When I was a little girl, my godfather was ordained a priest. In high school and college, I was blessed to attend ordinations for many seminarians from my home diocese, some of whom had been stationed at my parish, and others I knew through my experience attending and teaching our dioceses’ Totus Tuus program.
As I looked forward to this year’s ordinations, I remembered one in particular from a few summers back. Two of the three men receiving ordination that day shared close ties to my home parish, making it feel like a family reunion. The cathedral in Rockford, Illinois, buzzed with joy as friends and family waited for the Mass to begin. And as the men processed down the aisle toward the altar, surrounded by those friends and family, as well as the many brother-seminarians participating in the Mass, I couldn’t help but realize how much the liturgy reminded me of a wedding. In fact, it felt more like a wedding than some marriage ceremonies I had attended.
As the three men lay prostrate on the marble floor of the sanctuary, I saw them commit to giving their lives for the Bride of Christ, the Church, just as husbands and wives commit to laying down their lives for their spouse. During the examination of each candidate, the bishop asked, “Are you resolved to consecrate your life to God for the salvation of his people, and to unite yourself more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a perfect sacrifice?” And as each man replied, “I am, with the help of God,” I heard a commitment to love, serve and honor the Church in good times and in bad, sickness and health, all the days of their lives.
A week ago, I was blessed to hear a friend and new deacon preach one of his first homilies. The priest and our group of young adults who traditionally attend this weeknight Mass could barely contain our joy to see him preach on the word, and his joy was apparent as well. We could see he was transformed through his ordination, ready to put himself aside for the betterment of his people.
It’s not an easy time to be a priest. Yet, year after year, men continue to give of themselves for us, for the Church. And this fills me with joyful hope for our future.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor.