This past Saturday was the solemnity of the birth of Saint John the Baptist, a feast that commemorates the beginning of the end of the Old Testament dispensation, with its adumbrative figures of things to come, and the dawn of the New Covenant, of hope and joy. The joy of this day was multiplied at least four-fold, as four young men were ordained for the rural diocese of Pembroke, where I happen to live. This is a nearly unheard-of event in this small rural local church, and signifies itself a new dawn and a new hope, in what seems a small, but in fact a deeply significant, way.
Each new priest is an alter Christus, a sign and image of Christ, Who is Himself the perfect and unsurpassable image of God the Father, from whom we come, and to whom we are all called into eternity. For a young man to forego the joys of marriage and family, to consecrate himself to obedient and celibate labour in the Lord’s vineyard, with all of its sacrifices and hardships, even the growing detraction and calumny involved in identifying oneself as a ‘priest, is a great grace of God.
Yes, there are many joys and blessings in the priestly life, far, far surpassing the difficulties, so long as one ‘gives’ oneself to the vocation (and the same holds for marriage and any path of life).
From all the signs so far, all these young men have so given themselves to Christ and His Church, well-formed spiritually and intellectually, orthodox and faithful, zealous and joyful. It was a great grace to participate in the ordination, as well as the first Mass of one of them, Father Anthony Burchat, an alumnus of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, now a friend and, indeed, a father.
So please do pray for Father Anthony, Father Justin Bertrand, Father Michael Lund and Father Stephen Helferty, as well as all the young men ordained recently (including the five ordained for the archdiocese of Toronto on the 100th anniversary of the first visions of Fatima, May 13th), as they begin their first few days of priestly ministry, the chrism still drying on their hands, as they go forth upon what we may hope to be many years of fruitful work in and for the Church, the Kingdom and the salvation of souls.