Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: because these our sons, your relatives and friends, are now about to be ordained as priests, consider carefully the nature of the sacramental office in the Church to which they are about to be raised. It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ our great High Priest, himself chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in tum sent the Apostles in to the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.
After mature deliberation, these, our Holy Cross confreres, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the Presbyterate so as to serve in the Person of Christ the Head, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built up as a holy temple, a holy nation, a people set apart. In being configured to Christ the eternal, High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd the flock, and to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s Sacrifice.
Now, Matthew, David, Timothy, Stephen, Daniel, and Christopher, you are about to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Be constantly faithful to your Holy Cross vocation as educators in the faith. Impart to everyone the-word of God which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach.
In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful. As Holy Cross priest, entrust your hearts to the Heart of Jesus and accept the yoke of his immeasurable love. Living, praying, and serving in community, by your word and example, build up the house which is God’s Church.
Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. Embrace the Mass as the highest expression of your priestly identity. For by your ministry, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar. As Jesus our High Priest taught: I have given you the example so that you may do what I have done.
Blessed Basil Moreau taught: “Gaze upon the divine model. Imitate Him within the context of your Holy Cross vocation, and imagine that he is saying to you: Follow mel“
And as Holy Church demands at every ordination: Understand what you do, and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your lives is sinful and walk always in newness of life.
Remember, when you gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and when you forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance; when you comfort the sick with holy oil and celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world,- remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God.
Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Lord with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to the needs of all those entrusted to your care.
My dear sons, exercising for your part the priestly office of Christ, united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit.
Remember that Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and to seek out and save what was lost. Christ lived for us. He died for us. He emptied himself. He loved us to the end. He gave himself up for us, even to dying on the cross.
In your apostolates, imitate the strength of Good Saint Joseph, and the unwavering faith of Our Lady, and like the Sacred Heart of Jesus, be on fire with love for sinners and for all those you meet.
As Father Moreau challenged every Holy Cross priest: “Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd. Imitate His example, be adorned with His virtues, be other Christs, and let His life be revealed in yours.”
So in your priesthood, in your religious life, in your personal journey of faith, live every day the guiding motto of the Congregation of Holy Cross:
Ave Crux Spes Unica! …… Hail .. the Cross our .. only Hope!