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Monday, September 1, 2008

Laying on of Hands

Just before the ordination: The soon-to-be deacon with three rookie priests.

One of the most powerful moments of my ordination--and surely any priestly ordination--was the "laying on of hands," that moment when each of the concelebrating priests, after the bishop, places their hands on the heads of those being ordained. I've always thought it a powerful symbol since it connects us physically and spiritually with the Apostles, who laid hands on their successors who, in turn, did the same. One gets a sense of being something larger as well as knowing the support of one's brother priests, many of who have been friends, mentors and models of priesthood.

This weekend I learned that it is equally powerful to stand on the other side. Three of us from my community who were ordained this summer traveled up to Montreal for the diaconate ordination of one of our community members here in Boston. He was ordained at the same time as two new priests from his province (French Canada). So, I had the opportunity for the first time to lay hands on some new priests, just 10 weeks after my own ordination. And it was just as powerful from the other side. Indeed, since the entire liturgy was in French, and my French is pretty rusty, such symbolic actions and gestures took on added significance. There was no need to translate. The three of us also had the privilege of concelebrating the first mass the next day, at which our new deacon assisted.

It was a grace-filled weekend during which we got to meet several of our French Canadian Jesuit brothers for the first time. They couldn't have been more friendly and hospitable!

What a humbling privilege to find myself part of this "chain" of grace.