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A new priest and his first blessings

NEW YORK,ORDINATION

Jeffrey Bruno | Aleteia

Fr. Taylor Colwell - published on 07/04/23

My new configuration to Jesus was palpable as, like the master during his earthly ministry, crowds gathered to seek his attention to their needs and burdens.

One of the most impactful aspects of being a newly ordained priest is the opportunity to give first blessings. This typically begins immediately after priestly ordination, when many of the faithful line up to receive from the new priest words of peace spoken over outstretched hands recently anointed with sacred chrism — hands set apart as Christ’s instruments to bless and sanctify. 

While I knew it would be moving to bless family members and friends, I was surprised by the number of strangers who approached me. Many of them came with special requests for prayers: for their families, for themselves, for healing, peace, conversion, and other needs. These were intimate moments, in which I was invited to step into the dialogue of faith and trust between Jesus and his people, as one chosen to be his representative in their midst. My new configuration to Jesus was palpable as, like the master during his earthly ministry, crowds gathered to seek his attention to their needs and burdens. 

The experience of first blessings is certainly a witness to the power of the ministerial priesthood. It is also, however, a witness to the profound solidarity that exists among us all, manifested whenever we share our burdens with others in request for prayer. Solidarity is a feature of our common humanity, which binds us together in the shared vulnerability of human beings in a world that is difficult and fallen. This sharing is intensified by the sacramental bonds of baptism and the Eucharist, that make us one in the Body of Christ that is the Church. Thus can St. Paul conclude, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26).

The experience of imparting priestly blessings is a special one, yet it also exemplifies the power of prayer in general to bring together people, who would otherwise be strangers, into an intimate sharing of spiritual goods. We all have the power to give and receive blessing. We bless and are blessed by owning our common vulnerability as human beings and as Christians, by sharing each other’s burdens, and by interceding before the Lord on each other’s behalf. Wherever you may be in your journey of faith, whatever the needs and prayers you have to contribute to our common spiritual treasury, I encourage you to harness this power.     

~

This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

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