It has only been over the past couple of weeks that I've started to really appreciate the wisdom of our province having its Ordinations on the Saturday after Easter. It's always seemed fitting to have Ordination during such a joyful time of year, but I've come to realize there's more to it than that. While we've had a very sweet poster up in our parish school for the past few weeks counting down the days until Ordination, Holy Week has got rid of any sense in my heart that I'm counting down till "my big day." The Church's prayer of Holy Week, Triduum and Easter has been my proximate preparation for priesthood, immersing me in marvel at the Paschal mystery and readying me to raise a hand as I swim in it and show the world the water in which we're bathed.
On the Saturday before Palm Sunday, I presided at a Service of the Word funeral, having spent time the week before ministering to the grieving family. That afternoon, I went to St. Stanislaus Church to assist as a deacon at the Mass of Palm Sunday. During the Passion reading, what it means to say that Jesus died hit me in a whole new way, as my awareness of what death is and does was very much alive.
Our half of the diocese had its Chrism Mass on Monday, and I served as one of the deacons of the Mass. Bishop Rhoades called attention to me, my classmate Deacon Pat and Deacon Zack (a transitional deacon of the diocese) during his homily, and pointed to our hands which would be anointed by the chrism he was about to consecrate. The anointing that Christ is, will coat our hands and must be what people encounter when we extend them. Whatever good or ill these hands of mine have done will be swallowed up in the victory of the Crucified, submerged beneath the anointing he offers to the world through our hands.
Continuing through the Triduum, for my first time as a deacon, kept on impressing on me what Christ is doing for us. As I was hectically marshalling the servers' activity while my pastor washed 12 parishioners' feet, I was newly aware of the wonder of the calm Sabbath rest with which Christ personally and intimately is active in washing each of us and readying us to walk His pilgrimage, a pilgrimage we were reminded of in procession to the altar of repose.
Singing the intercessions on Good Friday let me lift the world up in prayer, and carrying the cross in for veneration reminded me of the weight of that, the weight Christ carries. Seeing parishioner after parishioner kiss the cross, and knowing something of how real that cross is in many of their lives and how some have turned to me to accompany them, made it realer and realer with each kiss.
Then, on Saturday we lit the new fire, and from that spread Christ's light, readying me to shine the light that is Christ into every dark corner. We rejoiced, because there is great joy in all of this.
That's still today. Lighting that new fire, an image of the fiery furnace of Christ's love, began the octave of Easter, eight days devoted to expressing our joy at what Christ has done for us which are liturgically one day. The fire signaled its start, and it won't end until after Masses on the second Sunday of Easter are done (at which we still refer to Easter as "on this day" in the prayers). My first Mass presiding as a priest will draw its radiance from that same Easter fire that blazed as I sang "The Light of Christ."
God is ready for my Ordination, and is readying me. He has powerfully reawakened me to that through this Triduum. At my final profession, I made a gift of myself to God through the Congregation of Holy Cross. At Ordination, Christ will make a gift of Himself to His people through me. The Church's prayer these past two weeks has warmed me to be the vessel He calls me to be, clay though I remain.
Deacon Adam Booth, C.S.C., professed his Final Vows to the Congregation of Holy Cross on Sept. 7, 2013, and was ordained to the Diaconate the following day. Deacon Adam is spending his diaconate year serving atHoly Cross and St. Stanislaus Parishin South Bend, Ind. He wrote this reflection for the Vocations Blog.