Wow - that title is a mouthful, but so it was on the second day of February in Winona, MN. Once again HSMom readers, I am permissioned to guest-post on her blog ... maybe it was because my birthday just happens to fall on this feast day, maybe it is just out of blind charity (which is actually what I suspect). In any case though, the caveat is that HSMom is more refined, better practiced in the virtues and much more benevolent than I (as my wife, I got the better of the deal, to be sure). That said....
My family and I were blessed to have witnessed the beautiful ceremony of the Taking of the Cassock and the Clerical Tonsure at the seminary chapel on the high hills of Winona on a foggy, chilly February second. My nephew was one of a significant number who received his cassock on this day, which is but one of many steps in his journey towards the Priesthood. Such a beautiful ceremony and we the faithful who attended were privileged to have been a part of it.
It is edifying to witness the deep spirituality which these young men exhibit, for they are preparing themselves for the tasks which our Lord will place before them in their journey towards Holy Orders. And this joy resounds far beyond the confines of the chapel. From the programme, "Ordinations have a profound significance for Catholics. The young clerical student sees in them the fulfillment of his youthful visions, the goal of his aspirations and labors during the many years of his college and seminary life ... ".
I reflected on the day. The ceremony - most of which was devoted to the Clerical Tonsure, took nearly 4 hours from start to finish. The homily by his Grace, Bishop Bernard Fellay, was as it would be from a father to his sons, and for the faithful, as from a father to his family. Beautiful. I reflect on our own Archdiocese's vocation efforts and what it means "... for a beloved boy to rise from Order to Order until he ascends the altar, a priest of God" There is a confidence and purpose in the hearts of these young men that is immediately apparent. Its radiance draws a soul to its goodness. It gives one hope if one fully understands the dignity and mission of the priest, especially for those who respond to the call of God to abandon all and follow Him in service for the salvation of souls. Again from the programme, "How many parents would not do much more to foster priestly vocations among their sons if they had a better knowledge of the exalted dignity and profound significance of the priesthood? It is just such an understanding attitude towards priestly vocations that must be developed among our Catholic people ..."
A priest is called to sacrifice, to witness, to lead by example, to be courageous in standing up against immorality and vice in all its ugliness, against those who would demand compliance to laws and ordinances in full conflict to Catholic teaching, be they in secular society or within the Church herself. Faithful Priests and Bishops are at the vanguard and we must support them with our prayers and action that they do so with humble courage. We must pray for these men in formation to become the worthy priest God is calling them to be.
Saint Thomas Aquinas in Winona is a seminary of the Society of Saint Pius X, and as are all orthodox seminaries forming goodly young men into priests of the Church, worthy of our prayers and charity. I am grateful to have been a part of this day and the significance of it in the lives of all who witnessed or participated - a wonderful birthday present to be sure - and I reflect on it a few thoughts: Pray for our priests, pray for all our priests in formation, pray especially for the full regularization of marginalized traditional communities and societies within our Catholic Church. Pray for our fellow Catholic faithful, be they laymen, priests or Bishops to practice a greater charity towards their traditional brethren. The springtime of faith that Blessed Pope John Paul II spoke of - it is my personal belief it will be born from the wellspring of these communities who have kept the Faith of Tradition.