Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The ordination ceremony for a priest

For those who have never attended an ordination ceremony, particularly a traditional one, I thought it might be useful to put up a few notes on it.

Presentation of the candidates

First it should be noted that an ordination is a public ceremony, traditionally specifically involving the people (although hopefully through supportive silence in the main!).

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (noting that some of this ceremonial may have been modified in the 1962 books, although it certainly lines up reasonably well with my memories of the last one held in Australia!), the ceremony starts with the candidates presenting themselves in the church in clerical dress, carrying the vestments of the order to which they are to be raised, and carrying lighted candles.

They are all summoned by name, each candidate answering "Adsum". After the Tract of the Mass the candidates, vested in amice, alb, girdle, stole, and maniple, with folded chasuble on left arm and a candle in their right hand, go forward and kneel before the bishop who asks their sponsor (in this case I presume Fr Berg of the FSSP) whether the candidates are worthy to be admitted to the priesthood. The bishop, then charging the congregation and insisting upon the reasons why "the Fathers decreed that the people also should be consulted", asks that, if anyone has anything to say to the prejudice of the candidates, he should come forward and state it. The bishop then instructs the ordinands on the duties of the Office they are about to assume.

Then comes what I consider one of the most moving pieces of the ceremonial, the singing of the Litany of the Saints while the candidates lie prostrate before the altar.

The matter and form of the ordination

The crucial step is the laying on of hands on the ordinands by the bishop, followed by all priests present, and the saying of various prayers by the bishop, inviting God's blessing to come down on the ordinands.

After this follows the bishop says the Preface, and then crosses the stole over the breast of each one and vests him with the chasuble. The chausable is actually arranged so it hangs down in front but is folded behind. More prayers, and then the bishop intones the "Veni Creator", and whilst it is being sung by the choir he anoints the hands of each of the newly ordained with the oil of catechumens. The bishop then hands to each a chalice, containing wine and water, with a paten and a host upon it.

Concelebration of the Mass

The Mass then continues, and this is the one time priests traditionally concelebrate:

"When the bishop has finished the Offertory of the Mass, he seats himself before the middle of the altar and each of those ordained make an offering to him of a lighted candle. The newly-ordained priests then repeat the Mass with him, all saying the words of consecration simultaneously.

Before the Communion the bishop gives the kiss of peace to one of the newly-ordained. After the Communion the priests again approach the bishop and say the Apostle's Creed.

The bishop laying his hands upon each says: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." ... The chasuble is then folded, the newly-ordained make a promise of obedience and having received the kiss of peace, return to their place."

The singing and ceremonial

There will of course be lots of singing (largely Gregorian chant) and ceremonial, beautiful vestments, multiple servers, assistant priests, deacons, etc. Expect all the stops to be pulled out in terms of solemnity, so lots of colour and light throughout, hopefully making for a very beautiful ceremony.

Be warned though - the sacring of a priest is not a short ceremony - count on at least two to three hours if you are planning to come this weekend (or next in Auckland).


David said...

I'm hoping to be there; just a couple of practical issues I need to sort out this week, first.

Secondly, I wonder whether ex-Fr Paul Collins MSC (who I understand to be a resident of the Manuka area) will be there holding a silent prayer vigil on behalf of the a-Catholics, against evil traditionalism and "restorationism". Actually, according to some of his comments, traddies are so insignificant as to be really unworthy of his attention, so I guess not!

David said...

Don't forget the custom of the newly ordained priest giving his maniturgium to his mother at his first Mass.

Pious tradition was that when the mother of a priest died, she was to be buried with the maniturgium used at her son's ordination. Then, when she met St. Peter at the pearly gates, he would see the maniturgium and recognize she is the mother of a priest, and then got a first class escort to her heavenly reward.

Son of Trypho said...

I can confirm that I will attend as one of my dearest friends is coming from Sydney (he is in the choir) so I will attend.
Readers of this blog might spot me if your observant! :)

Terra said...

Hmm, does that mean I should look out for the person wearing a yarmulke?

Anonymous said...

Son of Trypoho,

Is your Christian name either John or Jason, by any chance???

+ Thomas Wolsey

Archieps. Eborac., etc.

Son of Trypho said...

I'm in two minds about that - I don't want to cause scandal or offend anyone or become a spectacle but then it is where I am currently (in terms of known identity, not participation). If you do see anyone wearing one it will most probably be me.

It could be - but if I was to confirm you would have me at a disadvantage as I don't know who you are?

Terra said...

Trypho - My advice would be not to wear one for the reasons you state unless you feel strongly about the religoius gesture which you clearly don't! I was just intrigued by your comment about recongizability.

On which yes, Wolsey, do please come clean...perhaps we should nominate a time and place for readers of this blog to meet and reveal themselves!

Son of Trypho said...

I'm always up for meeting new friends so let me know if anyone cares to meet - I'll be sticking around shortly at the end to meet my friend so some time after the end would be good me.

David said...

Hmm, does that mean I should look out for the person wearing a yarmulke?

Heh, in Hebrew, it's called a "kuppah". Yarmulke is Yiddish, IIRC.

Anyway, the Archbishop will be wearing one, won't he?

As a proddy-burning traddie, I don't have a problem with Jews covering their heads in Church. It's up to them.

The only time I ever visited a shul, I put a kippah on my head out of respect.

David said...

Actually, how do we recognize Terra at the ordination?

Perhaps a flourescent yellow chapel veil is in order! :)