Jesuit Ordinations

This morning five Jesuits of what in two years will be the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus were ordained in Milwaukee.  I was there in the Church of the Gesu where I was ordained almost 31 years ago.  Celebrating the ordinations there always brings back memories of my own, especially this year when Milwaukee’s emeritus auxiliary bishop, Richard Sklba, who ordained me, presided.  As I entered the church and greeted Bishop Sklba, he said that last night he went over the list of those he had ordained and he pointed to me, indicating that he had thought about and prayed for me. 

This year, in addition to the moment when I laid hands on each of the five Jesuits, I was moved by two other things. 

One was the instruction that Bishop Sklba gave when the newly ordained priests knelt before him to receive the paten and chalice which had just been brought up by family members at the Presentation of the Gifts. He said: “Receive from the Holy People of God the gifts to be offered to God. Know what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the cross.”

These words spoke to me of sacrifice. I was reminded of words from St. John XXIII’s encyclical “On the Priesthood,” written for the centenary of St. John Vianney’s death. He quoted Pope Pius XII: “Just as the entire life of Our Savior was ordered to the sacrifice of Himself, so likewise the life of the priest, who ought to bring out the image of Christ in himself, must be made a pleasing sacrifice with Him, in Him, and through Him…. For this reason he must not only celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice, but even in a certain intimate way live it. For thus he can obtain that heavenly strength by which it comes about that he is entirely transformed and shares in the expiatory life of the Divine Redeemer Himself.”  And, St. John added this further quote from Pope Pius XII: “Thus it is necessary that the priestly soul should strive to reproduce in itself whatever is accomplished on the altar of sacrifice.”

After Communion there was reflection song written by the Filipino Jesuit Manoling Francisco called “Your Heart Today.”  It spoke of having a heart like the Heart of Jesus, the priestly heart which all the baptized faithful—lay and ordained—are called to have.  That priestly heart is a heart that is willing to give all, to sacrifice all for others.  It is a heart that is broken as it commits itself to healing a broken world.  It is a heart conformed to the Pierced Heart of Jesus.  Here are the lyrics:


WHERE THERE IS FEAR, I CAN ALLAY
WHERE THERE IS PAIN, I CAN HEAL
WHERE THERE ARE WOUNDS, I CAN BIND
AND HUNGER, I CAN FILL
REFRAIN:

LORD, GRANT ME COURAGE
LORD, GRANT ME STRENGTH
GRANT ME COMPASSION
THAT I MAY BE YOUR HEART TODAY
WHERE THERE IS HATE, I CAN CONFRONT
WHERE THERE ARE YOKES, I CAN RELEASE
WHERE THERE ARE CAPTIVES, I CAN FREE
AND ANGER, I CAN APPEASE


REFRAIN
BRIDGE:

WHEN COMES THE DAY I DREAD
TO SEE A BROKEN WORLD
COMPEL ME FROM MY CELL GROWN COLD
THAT YOUR PEOPLE I MAY BEHOLD
WHERE THERE IS FEAR, I CAN ALLAY
WHERE THERE IS PAIN, I CAN HEAL
WHERE THERE ARE WOUNDS, I CAN BIND
AND HUNGER, I CAN FILL


REFRAIN
AND WHEN I’VE DONE, ALL THAT I COULD
YET THERE ARE HEARTS, I CANNOT MOVE
LORD GIVE ME HOPE
THAT I MAY BE YOUR HEART TODAY