This past Saturday, I had the joy of attending the ordination of one of our seminarians to the transitional diaconate. Jose, who is currently in formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, made his vows before the Church to faithfully serve Christ and his Bride.
For me, this was a particularly profound experience. Jose literally grew up before my eyes. I met him when he was a fresh-faced young man, a teenager who was attending the minor seminary. He was always willing to help us out with the many, many weddings we would have at the Cathedral. He was just as much at home in the sacristy as he was with his own family. At such a young age, he lived and breathed the Church.
Now, some 13 years removed, young Deacon Jose still lives and breathes the Church. Saturday’s liturgy, which he helped plan, was also indicative that he and his fellow seminarians are making their mark as the Benedictine generation. For all of my previous rants about the state of music in Youth Masses, Deacon Jose gave me much hope. The music he chose bore a sacred quality that was conducive to the Rites and to the Mystery celebrated. It embodied the vision that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI laid out in Sacramentum Caritatis No. 42. I hope that those priests in attendance were able to appreciate that.
Deacon Jose and his classmates displayed an immense joy, something that was both profound and infectious. In his book, “Milestones”, the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger talked about the joy he experienced at his presbyteral ordination. He said that on the day of his ordination, a lark had flown into the cathedral, loudly singing. The young Joseph Ratzinger took this as a sign that he was headed in the right direction. He was doing the will of the Father and he was doing so joyfully. While it was too cold for any larks to have flown into our Cathedral, I do believe that the warmth of the Holy Spirit certainly permeated throughout the building as Deacon Jose lay prostrate before our bishop. I pray that this divine warmth, which enflamed the first deacon, St. Stephen, will remain with Deacon Jose and his brother seminarians, for the rest of their lives, carrying them as they fulfill their vocations as priests of God and ministers of our joy.