On Monday April 15, 2019, H. E. Bp. Tissier de Mallerais celebrated the annual Lenten ordinations at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary. In a single ceremony, 13 seminarians received the Minor Orders of Porter and Lector, 5 were raised to the orders of Exorcist and Acolyte, and another 4 received the Major Order of the Subdiaconate. Additionally, His Excellency conferred the Order of the Diaconate upon one seminarian.
In the midst of the holiest of seasons in the liturgical year, St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary celebrated the ordinations of more than twenty seminarians, 18 receiving Minor Orders and five receiving Major Orders. On the morning of April 15th, the somber silence of Holy week gave way to the profound and reverential joy proper to the solemn occasion. The exceptional ceremonies, lasting into the early afternoon, contained a supernatural richness which is not often seen and upon which no one can adequately expound.
Each order, from Porter to the Diaconate, brings the ordinand nearer and nearer to that sacred mystery which is the Eternal Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. While the Minor Orders are not irrevocable (as are the Major Orders) they nevertheless oblige a man to live a life set apart for the sacred, taking God as his portion and his inheritance. By their ordinations, the ordinandi receive the graces necessary to live in accord with their new state as well as to perform the specific duties and responsibilities now placed upon their shoulders.
The Porter is charged with guarding and caring for the church, the Lector with catechesis, the Exorcist with the binding of Satan and expelling demons in the name of Christ, and the Acolyte takes a step nearer to the altar in his participation in the Holy Sacrifice and is specially called to carry the light of Christ to the faithful by his teaching and example.
Those who receive the Subdiaconate make their perpetual and irrevocable gift of self to God and His Church. “The step”, which is taken in their rite of ordination, symbolizes their complete and total renunciation of all that is not Christ and their resolve to partake in nothing but what concerns Him. The Subdeacon steps away, forever, from the things of the world and pledges himself exclusively to Christ and His Spotless Bride, the Church. With this voluntary surrender, the Subdeacon is bound to a life of perfect chastity and the daily recitation of the Divine Office, uniting his own prayer to the prayer of the entire Mystical Body. The Subdeacon also ascends the steps of the altar where he directly assists the Deacon at Mass and pours into the chalice the drop of water during the Offertory.
The final step before the priesthood, the Diaconate, affirms once again all of the obligations that accompany the Subdiaconate and adds to it the additional honors and duties to preach the word of God to the faithful and to serve in a more intimate capacity at God’s holy altar. At the Offertory, the Deacon, together with the priest, raises the chalice and prays the Offertory prayer, the prayer which separates from every other use the matter which will become the most holy of all Sacraments.
Just preceding the ordinations, His Excellency exhorted the ordinands to great humility and love in return for the great honors God was soon to give them:
“By receiving these orders, you are forging links in a chain which unite you to Our Lord Jesus Christ in His holy priesthood! Pray always for a humble and generous disposition so that you may fulfill your duties aflame with the love of God!”
As we approach the Holy Triduum and the Solemnity of Solemnities, please join us in praying for the newly ordained who have received a greater share in the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray that they will faithfully exercise their new offices and live in an ever increasing union with Christ the Eternal High Priest.