Blog/CYM Blog

Pentecost and the Priesthood

In my life, I have been blessed to attend a few ordinations, and I have to say, an ordination is hands down my favorite sacrament to witness. I know, I should say it’s a wedding or a baby’s baptism, but they just don’t compare.

Witnessing men willingly lie prostrate on a cathedral floor for their Bride, the Church, symbolizing the unworthiness for the office and complete dependence upon God is the most selfless act of sacrifice and humility.

Watching the bishop and brother priests lay hands on the man being ordained moves me to tears as I fully grasp the apostolic tradition being handed down before my eyes. At that very moment, the ordained invoke the Holy Spirit to come down to give him a sacred character and set him apart for ministry in the Church.

I remember watching a mother weep as an elderly priest clothed her newly ordained son with a stole and chasuble. I asked her afterward what she was thinking about at that moment. She said she remembered her son as a child, dressing him, feeding him, and bathing him. To see a priest cover her son with priestly garments was the tenderest moment (and flashback) of the ordination for her.

Today’s Gospel (John 20:19-23) reminds me of two particular moments during an ordination: the anointing of the hands and the handing of the chalice and paten.

I find it remarkable when Jesus came to the upper room; He showed His wounded hands and side. The same feet anointed by Mary with costly spikenard, in preparation for His burial, stood before them in resurrected glory. Hands that, days before, broke bread with them at the last supper now touched them with an embrace. And instead of saying, “Where were you when I needed you most?” or “Why did you abandon me?” He said, “Peace be with you,” and “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

There is an equally peaceful encounter between the bishop when he takes the hands of the soon to be ordained and anoints them, saying, “The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.” These hallowed hands will anoint the sick, baptize, confirm, and bless the people entrusted to his care.

And then, the bishop places in the same anointed hands the chalice and the paten that will be used for the Eucharistic celebration, praying, “Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to him. Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery you celebrate; model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross.” His hands will accept our offering and turn it into the Body and Blood of Christ; through the power of the Holy Spirit, ordinary will become extraordinary.

On this Pentecost Sunday, I choose to remember and honor the priests who have laid down their lives for us. I pray every day that priests wake up hearing the words of Christ in the Gospel of John, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I sent you” (John 20:21), and they are set ablaze to ignite a fire in every person they receive.

On the day of priestly ordination, the ordained “Receive the Holy Spirit.” They are, in a way, sent out of the upper room with the command, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” It is through the power of the Holy Spirit, “whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26). Priests have responded to this calling with obedience and submission.

Let us pray for our priests today and remember they were not called to be administrators, budget keepers, or parish architects and developers; they were called to the vocation of the priesthood to set the world on fire with the Good News of Jesus Christ. I pray we will respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as obediently as our priests and help them build the Kingdom of God on earth through our service, action, and words.

About the Author

Tricia Tembreull

Tricia Tembreull is a California girl with a Texas-size heart for hospitality. She said yes over twenty years ago to God’s call to youth ministry and never could’ve imagined the adventures and people He had planned for her to encounter along the way. She serves as a Parish Coach for Life Teen and joyfully travels around the globe training, empowering, and praying with youth ministers. When not on a plane, you can find Tricia in a church, spending time with family and friends, in the kitchen cooking up something delightful, or on the beach for an evening walk.

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