Tuesday, June 12, 2007


On Saturday, June 2, four men were ordained priests for the Diocese of Providence. Priesthood ordinations are always a tremendous grace for the Church. For me, Ordination Day is always a time of personal grace and renewal. Whenever I concelebrate an ordination Mass, it brings me back to the day when I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ. I always leave the ordination Mass with renewed commitment to the vocation which I have been called to live.

One of the most poignant moments of the ordination rite occurs when the men to be ordained prostrate themselves. During this moment, the Church invites them to ritualize what should already have taken place in their hearts: they are surrendering to the Lord, laying down their lives to serve Christ and the Church. The man to be ordained literally lies down on the floor of the cathedral as a symbol that he is giving his life to the Lord; he is willing to do what the Lord asks and go wherever the Lord wants him to go.

Surrender: this interior disposition is absolutely essential to a life of holiness and particularly important for the man who is called to the priesthood. A man who is called to be a priest must be willing to lay down his life for Christ and the Church. The prayer that must reverberate in the soul of the man who is called to the priesthood is: “Lord, wherever you want me to go, I will go; whatever you want me to do, I will do. I am yours.”

Why is this prayer and disposition of surrender so important? Because when God calls a man to be a priest, the Lord is asking that man to literally give his humanity as an instrument for the salvation of souls. Christ says to that man: “give me your very self so that I may live in you. As a priest, you are not called to live for yourself; I want to live in you. Surrender to me.”

Whatever vocation you are called to, surrendering to the Lord is a vital part of the spiritual life. We should not be afraid of this invitation to surrender to him. It is not the kind of surrender which leads to imprisonment; rather, it is precisely by surrendering to him that we live in true freedom.

Pray for these men who were recently ordained. Pray that their hearts will stay surrendered to Jesus and that they will be living images of Christ to the people they serve. Pray for yourself as well. Are you being attentive to the voice of the Lord in your heart calling you to surrender to him? Do not be afraid, for by surrendering to him, you will see more clearly the path he has chosen for you.

Here's a beautiful prayer of surrender written by Charles de Foucauld:

Prayer of Abandonment
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.


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