Yesterday, I had the great honor to be on Market Square for a public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with many of our active young people from around the Diocese of Knoxville. This adoration took the form of a Eucharistic “flash mob,” whose members came as ordinary people milling about the square, with only the news of what was going to happen spreading by word of mouth in the days and weeks leading up to the event. Jesus, Our Eucharistic Lord, visited Market Square. For some of the people there, we believe it might even have been the first time they have seen Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In our procession out of the square, some people stopped my fellow confrere in diaconate formation, Don Griffith, and asked for a card about the Blessed Sacrament that some of us who knew about the flash mob ahead of time were helping to distribute. I couldn’t help but notice that there were indeed some “random people” who noticed exactly what we were doing and stopped and took the time to adore Our Lord. Afterwords, we had about an hour’s worth of further adoration, and then Eucharistic Benediction, where we said the Divine Praises together, and concluded with a verse of Holy God We Praise Thy Name.
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. –1 Peter 5:1-4.
Today is a historic day for our diocese, as Colin Blatchford, Tony Budnick, Julian Cardona, and Adam Kane have been ordained to the sacred priesthood. Pray for them as they begin their priestly ministries that God will bless them not only with long life and many years of priesthood, but will make them holy priests, and that they will be open to growing in holiness and love of the Lord every day of their lives, because if they are open to this growth in holiness through living lives of prayer, it will be reflected in their ministry to others. We can’t teach others to do and pray and live as Christ would do if we are not doing our very best to imitate Christ ourselves. At the same time, all of the faithful need to pray for Fathers Colin, Tony, Julian, and Adam, as well as for all of our priests. In answering God’s call to the ordained priesthood, they have chosen the path less trod in this life, and I think that they know that it won’t always be easy for them, especially in an age where the priesthood is already maligned. As we are all soldiers in the Lord’s army, they have now joined the ranks of those field generals of Christ’s mercy in the sacramental priesthood, and they will often find themselves in the hottest places of the spiritual battle.
I was deeply honored to be able to attend the ordination Mass of these new priests (I would be remiss if I did not thank Stephanie Richer, who many of you know for her wonderful photography work for the diocese, who was so kind to give me a lift to both of these events), and attending the ordination really gives you an eye into the blessings of our diocese. I pray that many of you will not consider too much of a “softie” if I admit to you that at a moment during the Litany of the Saints, my eyes filled with tears, partly in gratitude for the lives these men have chosen to lead, and partly due to the realization that, as a candidate for ordination to the permanent diaconate, in about two years, the Litany will be said and I could be among the ordinandi prostrate on the floor. Thank you , Lord, for your many gifts to our diocese, and thank you Father Adam Kane (one of our new priests) for your blessing.
Ad multos annos Fathers! We are praying for you.