The Mystery of the Lord’s Cross

Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God.
Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate,
and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.

— The Rite of Ordination

These words from the Rite of Ordination have sobered and well, almost haunted me in the last few months of my formation. Not that they are surprising, but they certainly get right to the point of what priesthood, and indeed the whole spiritual life, is about. For in Baptism, we are indeed all crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and the life we live is not our own. Christ himself taught us that we must lay down our lives for our friends, as he did (John 15:13).

This is true in a special way for the priest, who is called to offer the Sacrifice, and who must respond to the needs of God’s people. In a little over twenty-four hours, my life will no longer be my own, and I will be often called on to die to myself to follow Christ and do His work.

The strength to do that comes from Christ himself, who sends us His Holy Spirit to give us the grace to do what we cannot do on our own. The joy that comes from that grace is immeasurable. Conforming my life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross is a serious responsibility, but also a great source of peace and joy.

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