24 May 2014

On the chalice: Understand, imitate, and conform

Customarily, when a priest is a ordained he is presented with a chalice from his family, his friends, or his parish. Sometimes the chalice is new and sometimes it comes from the patrimony of a parish or is passed on from a deceased priest. (Some years ago I posted a few pictures of my chalice here.)

Within the Rite of Ordination, after the Bishop has imposed hands on the head of the ordinand and invoked the Holy Spirit through the Prayer of Ordination, the new priest is vested with the priestly stole and the chasuble. The Bishop then anoints his hands with the Sacred Chrism asked the Lord Jesus Christ to "guard and preserve you that you may sanctify the Christian people and offer sacrifice to God" (161).

Following the Anointing of Hands, since the ordinand is now a priest he is entrusted with the gifts of bread and wine. Kneeling before the Bishop, he receives a paten with hosts and a chalice with wine mixed with a little water as the Bishop says to him: "Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord's cross" (163). The chalice used at this moment is not usually the priest's personal chalice but one the Cathedral sacristy.

When His Excellency the Most Reverend Clarence "Larry" Silva ordained Father Ajit Baliar Singh, SS.CC to the priesthood this past Wednesday on the 150th anniversary of Saint Joseph Damien de Veuster, SS.CC, he used Father Damien's chalice:

Photo: Dann Ebina
A Catholic Mom in Hawaii (whom I'm looking forward to talking story with this August) related this little detail, which was unknown to me when I first posted on the ordination.

Photo: Dann Ebina

It is one of the most profound moments in the life of a priest and in Father Damien, whose chalice Father Ajit held, we see the example of a priest who took these words to heart. Both in his life and in his death, he conformed his life to the mystery of the Lord's cross, so much so that he said of his fellow lepers, "I would gladly give my life for them."

Photo: Dann Ebina
As we find ourselves in the midst of what might be called the "ordination season," let us pray especially for the men to be ordained priests this year (as well as those already ordained) that may strive to make these words the goal of their lives.

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