Thursday, 25 June 2009

Vienna VII - Ordination and First Mass of Fr Dimitry

The ordination of Fr Dimitry was a triumph of Faith. There was one cardinal, fifteen bishops and several hundred priests. The Cathedral was packed with standing room only. The liturgy was in German with the Latin settings. Large TV screens enabled all people to see. The Mass took over two and a half hours. I did not take any photographs of the ordination Mass.
After the Ordination we went into a convoy of taxis to the Seminary for drinks and Supper.
The following day saw us assembled in the chapel of St Andrew in the Archbishop’s Palace. At 8am the Cardinal arrived and gave the licence to Fr Dimitry to be a bi-ritual priest. That means he can celebrate in both the Western and Eastern rites. This ceremony consisted in giving Fr Dimitry the antimension, a corporal with relics of saints and the depiction of the burial of Christ on which he must celebrate every Divine liturgy in the Eastern rite. He also gave him a pectoral cross (one which belonged to Patriarch Alexius I (1945-1970)), and a hand held cross for blessings. The Russian contingent offered an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Fr Dimitry. This ceremony was accompanied by Russian Orthodox chants from the Philokalia choir.
Just after 8.30am Fr Dimitry started his first Mass. This was in the Western form and was both in Russian and in English. The Missa Brevis of Haydn was performed by members of the Cathedral choir. At the end of this post you will find the text of the sermon I preached on this wonderful occasion.
After the Mass we were all treated for a breakfast in the state rooms of the Palace. Following this the party went to venerate the relics in the chapel of relics. I was asked to give the blessing with the relic of the arm of St Matthias the Apostle and all came to venerate it. It was indeed another honour. The Philokalia choir sung during the veneration.
I left Vienna that evening to be back for our Patronal. Fr Dimitry celebrated in the Eastern rite on Sunday morning and in the Western rite at the Cathedral on Monday night. I hear that both were very good celebrations. His first three masses done, Fr Dimitry is now on a well deserved holiday. We look forward to welcome him here in October.

The post ordination supper at the seminary, below Tony and Christine our Parish links with Philokalia

The licensing of Fr Dimitry as a bi-ritual priest

First Mass

With an Ukrainian Catholic priest during breakfast, Fr Nazar

Fr Dimitry having a few minutes of rest.

The veneration of the relic of St Matthias
The homily
As the universal Church was taking delight in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and as the Holy Father opened the year dedicated to the Priesthood, we had the great joy of witnessing, through the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the ordination of you dear Father as a priest of Jesus Christ.
Truly apt it was to have your ordination on the day when we meditate and delight in the love of our Lord. Your ordination has now configured your being to that of Jesus Christ, and although every baptised is called to live in that love, the priest not only lives in it but is a living icon of the love of Jesus Christ. In you Father we see the living Christ working among us.
How can you live fully this state of being another Christ? I would like to suggest to you three points.
First your eyes. Father make sure that your eyes are constantly focused on Jesus. As people see Jesus in you so you must always see Jesus in them. It is in this way that you fulfil in your being your high calling of being the Good Shepherd. How do we keep our eyes constantly fixed on Jesus? Above all else you are ordained to offer and plead the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Make sure that the altar is for you the threshold of heaven and your only school. Your daily celebration of Mass will enable you to grow in your priesthood, as every time you celebrate you grow that little bit deeper in Jesus. Listen carefully to what you proclaim and become what you say and what you receive. It is in this intimacy with the sacrifice of the altar that our vision is focused on Christ and on the heavenly Jerusalem where you are called to travel and lead the sheep entrusted to your care. Make sure that there is time for preparation before Mass and thanksgiving afterwards, and after you make your intention, before walking to the altar recall that you are called to celebrate as if every Mass is like this your first Mass, as if it was the only Mass you are to celebrate as if it is the last Mass you will celebrate. Living with Jesus the Paschal Mystery is keeping your eyes firmly fixed on him.
Secondly your hands. Make sure that they are joined in prayer. One of the temptations in priesthood is to be very busy. Being very busy is a heresy Father and as all heresies it needs to be avoided at all costs. Priesthood is about being and not doing. Prayer is what keeps us on the right path. We are fortunate in joining the Universal Church every day in the Divine Office. Love your breviary. The Office of Readings and Lauds enable us to tune our ears together with those of the Church to listen to the Word of God. Prayer is a two way traffic, we speak and we listen. The Scriptures offered to us in the Liturgy of the Hours enable us to re-receive every day the Word of God that changes us. It is an opportunity to read scriptures prayerfully rather than in an academic way. Prayerfully we bring to conclusion our every day with Vespers and Compline as the Word of God takes root in us and nourishes every minute of the day and night. Daily time needs also to be spent in that most joyful intimacy in front of the tabernacle. It is there that our hearts are inflamed with love and our actions sanctified. It is there that we take our joys and sorrows as we carry people in our hearts; it is there that our weakness is turned into strength. Father I also recommend to you with all my heart the daily Rosary – that most wonderful school where with the Blessed Virgin Mary and through her eyes we contemplate Christ who sends us in the field of mission. Praying is living in the Father’s house. Was it not the teenage Jesus who told us in today’s Gospel that he must be in his father’s house? In prayer we share with him his living in the Father’s house where the Father delights in us and we in him.
Finally your knees. Every priest needs a pair of good knees. You are vested with authority, very high authority indeed: that authority that binds wounds and forgives sin. Jesus gave us an icon of this authority. It is himself kneeling down and washing the feet of his chosen ones. Like him, because now you are him, you need to be on your knees and wash feet, even of those who like Peter may be hesitant. Wash the feet of Holy Mother Church, receive, on your knees, her teaching, the pure stream of fresh water that comes to us from the Magisterium with Peter and his successors at its head. This is our only guarantee that our service is from God when we think and speak and breath with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Fight injustice, fight error, fight sin, defend the orphan, the widow, defend life but always on your knees in the washing of feet.
Today as you celebrate your first offering of the Holy Sacrifice and transform that bread and wine into the most glorious body of the Risen Lord, you renew on this altar the Yes that Jesus uttered to God out of his complete freedom. That Yes to which you united yourself yesterday as you said: Here I am before you were ordained. Today too with the Church we immerse ourselves in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Every inch of Mary’s being is Immaculate. Mary is free from sin. It is in this freedom that she was able to utter her Yes and be for us not only a Mother but also a model of the Church that is already but is yet to come. Like Mary and with her intercession, Mother of the Church and Mother of priests, be free from sin and in that freedom every day join your own Yes to that of Jesus and Mary.
Fr Dimitry remember your eyes fixed on Jesus, your hands joined in prayer and you knees bended in loving service. On our part we will remember you in our daily prayers that through the intercession of that Free Virgin of Nazareth and the Holy Cure` of Ars you may be a minister of joy, an icon of Christ’s love, a holy priest of Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

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