“May she behold her Son,” said Father Eugene Ritz, Diocesan Chancellor, at the Vigil for Ordination two days before the Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Alexander Brown at his home parish, Sacred Heart in Bath.
As homilist for the Holy Hour with Vespers service June 1, he ended his homily with a poignant statement about our Blessed Mother and how she views the priests of her Church.
The Holy Hour, which was held on the Memorial of St. Justin the Martyr, was presided over by Monsignor David James, Vicar General of the Diocese. Monsignor James stepped in when Bishop Alfred Schlert had to attend to his family; his father passed away earlier that day.
“We keep the Bishop, and his brother, and his family in our prayers for their support in this loss, and also pray for the repose of the soul of his father, Alfred Sr.,” said Monsignor James, beginning the Holy Hour.
Being held on the first day of June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the vigil for the Ordination brought out over 40 people to join in praying for Deacon Brown. Confessions were offered for all those present.
“I think it is praiseworthy to reflect on the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially in the true presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, but especially at the conclusion of this period of formation of the one to be ordained,” said Father Ritz as he addressed Deacon Brown.
Father Ritz discussed the importance of priests being “in persona christi,” a Latin phrase meaning “in the person of Christ,” and while the Blessed Mother loves all her children, she is particularly the queen and mother of priests because of their resemblance to her Son.
“We have to remember that Mary loves priests,” he said. “She loves all members of the mystical body that is the Church; but in a special way, she cares for her priests because of the sacred mysteries they celebrate ‘in persona christi.’”
Deacon Brown was joyous throughout the homily as Father Ritz continued talking about the importance of the Priesthood.
“Pope Benedict XVI tells us that the incarnation, God’s taking on of human flesh, is the crossroads, the meeting place of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the priesthood, because that is the moment where Mary teaches us to speak in perfect freedom our ‘yes’ to God.” Father Ritz echoed this as he spoke about St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, and Vianney’s sentiment that the Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.
After the homily, Magnificat, and intercessions, Monsignor James offered a prayer asking for the intercession of St. Justin the Martyr. An early Christian apologist who studied pagan philosophies before converting to Christianity, St. Justin became the first Christian philosopher. Martyred because of his strong Christian beliefs in 165 A.D., St. Justin is the patron saint of philosophers – one of the focuses of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, where Deacon Brown completed his formation and studies.
The vigil concluded with the Litany of Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim, and Benediction.
By Jennifer Russell. Photo by Ed Koskey.