Sunday, June 09, 2013

A New Priest

Today we celebrated the first Mass of Father Jason Burchell at St. Mary's Church n Alexandria, Virginia. Along with six classmates Father Jason was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood yesterday in Arlington, Virginia. I was privileged to proclaim the first reading, from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah:

 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,

says the Lord.’
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
‘Now I have put my words in your mouth. (Jeremiah 1:4--9)
Jeremiah's quote drives home the importance of the priest as one who speaks the Word of God: "I have put my words in your mouth." From now on Jason and his fellow newly ordained are to preach God's Word as Paul says, "in season and out"--whether their words be pleasing to the ear, or, when their words may irritate and annoy some who need a lifestyle change.

From all eternity those seven men were chosen to represent him as the Church says, "in persona Christi". That is, they stand in the place of "the person of" Christ, especially when it comes to celebrating the Eucharist, the Mass, and the sacrament of reconciliation, as well as the other sacraments.
For those of us who are Catholic and have been participating in Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) for years, nothing beats the peace and comfort that come from receiving these sacraments. We look to our priests to provide these "life-lines" for our spirits.
Like Christ, they are to be obedient to the authority of their bishop. The Bishop asked each one, "Do you promise obedience and respect to me and my successors?" Each one responded, "I do." Again Jeremiah's words ring true: "You shall go to all to whom I send you..." regardless of age, class, race, social standing or economic status.

The newly ordained receive the laying
on  of hands from
all the priests present at their ordination.
Father Dyer who gave the homily ended his sermon with a personal reminder that the priest, along with Christ, is called to be a victim. That means he is called to sacrifice. Father had had a long day on Saturday, attending the ordination, praying a holy hour with the seven about-to-be-priests on Friday night, busy in his usual parish assignment. Saturday he was twice awakened by the bus of a need to go to the hospital to anoint a dying person. His sacrifice of getting up and going to anoint the eldely person on her deathbed and comfort the family was his participation in the work of Christ the Priest and Victim.

Of course we continue to pray for Father Jason as he begins a three year assignment as a parish priest. Father is already a member of the US Navy Reserves.His experience here will be a treasure for hom when, after the three years, he takes up duties as a Chaplain in the US Navy.

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