Posted by: fvbcdm | April 15, 2013

Feast of Saint Paternus (15 April 2013)

My fourteen classmates and I were scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood on Monday, April 15, 1963.  And to make the day even more beautiful, it happened to be Easter Monday that year. My mother arrived in Dubuque, Iowa that Easter Sunday afternoon for the great ceremony the next day. Friends from California, Illinois, and elsewhere also came to be with me on that very special day.

 I had waited for that day all my life, it seemed.  The dream was finally coming true. We fifteen lined up at the back of the chapel of our house of studies in Dubuque; someone lit the candles that each of us carried, the choir began to sing the entrance antiphon, and we made our way up the long aisle to where the bishop was awaiting us at the altar.  The entrance antiphon, chanted in Latin, says this on Easter Monday:  “The Lord has brought you to a land flowing with milk and honey, so that his law would always be given honor among you, alleluia.”  Nothing could have been more appropriate.  For us, who had studied so long and waited so eagerly for years, the priesthood was indeed a “land flowing with milk and honey.”

The precise moment of the reception of the sacrament is when the ordinands lie flat on the floor while the bishop’s hands are extended over them and an invocation of the Holy Spirit is chanted over them. I remember vividly lying on that marble floor and listening to those words, and thinking, “I am a priest!”

That was [fifty] years ago today. I was thirty-three years old then; I am [eighty-three] now.  Would I do it over again if I had the choice? Of course I would! This land flowing with milk and honey has been a good land indeed and I am deeply grateful to God for the vocation to our holy Catholic faith, to religious life, and to the priesthood.  I have tried to celebrate Mass every day of those [fifty] years; often more than once a day. I have tried to preach the word of God every day, and this Catholic Daily Message is my attempt to continue preaching even when my health makes it impossible to do so publicly and officially.

You are part of my priestly vocation; without God’s people to attend Mass, to receive Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Penance, and to listen to the preaching of the word of God, the priestly vocation would be without meaning.  But you have been at Mass, at Confession, and in the pews before the pulpit for all these years. And now, you are here either reading or listening to these words. Thank you. And let us together thank God for these gifts which mean so much to you and to me. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P. 

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.

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