Last weekend was our “Tabor Moment.” Jesus took three of his disciples and went up a high mountain; there, he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appeared and conversed with him (cf. Mt 17:1-3). That was the closest experience they had of the beatific vision while on earth. Jesus allowed them to taste, though briefly, the contemplation of eternal joy so that when the cross happens, they might not falter in their faith (cf. Luke 12:32). Without a doubt, last weekend was not far from the experience of Tabor. It is a little foretaste of what it means to respond generously to God’s call. He allowed us to see the future joy that ministering well might bring, and the unceasing prayer, generous support, untold gratitude, and beautiful kindness we have in the Church community. Supporters of our vocation laughed, cried and savored the weekend with us to the brim. They congratulated us and promised to pray for us as we blessed them. Such a holy weekend is not easily forgotten. Such an experience propels us forward to serve selflessly, give ourselves willingly and embrace our ministry wholeheartedly because God and his people are behind us. So, in challenging times, tough days, this is a moment we will remember as we minister and spread the gospel of joy in every corner of the Diocese of Providence.
The people of God get it. We have been assigned to many parishes throughout our time in seminary. Consequently, we have met, befriended and touched many. They have seen us grow, mature and persevere year in and year out. They know we will be their priests. They count on us to be their companion, guide, solace, minister of salvation and dispenser of grace and blessing from the cradle to the grave. As soon as a person enters this world, they expect us to be available to impart on him/her supernatural life through baptism. The priest accompanies the dead to their resting place in the grave with rites and prayers of immortal hope. When they are suffering, they know the priest is there. When the going gets tough in the journey, the priest strengthens them with the grace of the sacraments. When they fall away from grace, they are reconciled with God in the sacrament of penance through the hands of the priest. Called to found a family, the priest is there to receive and bless this unitive and procreative love. The priest stands by them in the best and worst periods of their lives — new life, fears, doubts, concerns, sadness, troubles or celebrations. He coaches them about how to win the race and fix their eyes on Jesus. It is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings (Gaudium Spes 45). Most importantly, behind the scene, in supplications, fasting, penances, study, hours on his knees, he prepares himself daily to live up to the lofty promises he made at ordination before God and his people. So, out of gratitude and love the faithful come out in droves to celebrate and welcome the new priests as a way to tell them: “Welcome to our lives. We are glad you are here. Show us the way.” That’s what the ordination meant to us.
“Ask the Newly Ordained” features Fathers Brian Morris, Joseph Brice and Stephen Battey — who respond to questions about the faith from Rhode Island Catholic readers.
Have a question? Ask the Newly Ordained! Readers may submit questions by sending them to Editor@thericatholic.com.