by Therese Ivers, JCL
Last month, I had the very great privilege of witnessing the elevation of my former canon law classmate to the episcopacy. I thought I’d share a little of this experience before touching on the vocation of bishops.
I flew into Toronto the night before the ordination. I had reserved a hotel close to the cathedral, and had come sans tickets (to the Mass) because my invitation had not arrived by mail for some unknown reason. When I had last emailed the then Fr. Vincent, he assured me that someone would bring a ticket for me to the hotel, and so I wasn’t too worried about being without an official invitation or Mass ticket.
The next morning, I was surprised and delighted to discover that Fr. Vincent himself was delivering that ticket. We had a great chat before he had to return to his TV interviews.
After lunching with another classmate of mine who flew in from Rome, we walked to the Cathedral in the bitter cold so that I could secure my seat, and he could vest for concelebration. There was already a long line in front of the Cathedral, and I was afraid of having to wait in the 20’s degree weather outside, but I was told that the line was for people without reserved seating tickets. So, I found my way into the Cathedral, and squeezed into a pew towards the front. Everyone was handed a program:
The procession was very long. Hundreds of priests, deacons, and dozens of bishops flowed into the Cathedral. See this clip of just the bishops processing in.
The ordination ceremony was very moving. For me, there were three particular highlights. The first was that I was happy to see Bishop Nguyen’s siblings present. This was the first time in about 30 years that they were together. You see, Bishop Nguyen was a refugee from Vietnam, and his siblings needed to get special visas in order to attend. Interestingly enough, they are descendants of a Vietnamese martyr.
Another part of the ordination ceremony which fascinated me was during the consecration prayer, where the book of the Gospels is held over the person being made bishop. Here’s a photo from the Archdiocese:
Finally, one other aspect which really caught my attention were the words which accompany the giving of the ring. “Take this ring, the seal of your fidelity. With faith and love protect the bride of God, his holy Church.” This conferral of the ring reminded me of the special bond between the consecrated virgin (icons of the Church) and their bishop. The words for the conferral of the ring upon a consecrated virgin are: “Receive the ring that marks you as a bride of Christ. Keep unstained your fidelity to your Bridegroom, that you may one day be admitted to the wedding feast of everlasting joy.”
Here is a link to more pictures from a different bishop and a short description of the Rite of Ordination to the Episcopacy.
What is a bishop? A bishop is a man who possesses the fullness of Orders. He governs, sanctifies, and teaches his flock, in order to bring people to Christ. A vocation to the episcopacy is relatively rare. It is also a vocation that should not be on a person’s mind when discerning vocations. This is because the only people who should discern this vocation are priests whom the Pope has asked to accept this office. In my opinion, a priest in this position should lean towards saying “yes” out of obedience to the Holy Father unless there are serious reasons to ask to decline. Everyone else, of course, should not waste their time on discerning this vocation because men shouldn’t presume that they are called to be a successor of the Apostles and given the heavy responsibilities that a bishop shoulders, and women simply aren’t called, period.
Please pray for our bishops, priests, and deacons.
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(c) 2010 by Therese Ivers, JCL
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