Five men will tomorrow prostrate themselves in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, in a moment in the Rite of Ordination that represents much of what is happening in their spiritual lives, writes Fr Daniele Russo. Source: The Catholic Weekly.
When a person is prostrate, every part of his body is as close to the ground as possible. This posture, voluntarily undertaken, speaks to a complete emptying of the self before the Lord.
This is also why – through their promises of prayer, celibacy and obedience – candidates for the priesthood lay down some of the greatest goods this world has to offer.
Similar to the “old self” that dies with conversion to the “new self” in Christ, prostration signifies a kind of death to self.
Herein lies a great paradox of the priesthood.
When a man empties himself of worldly glory – symbolised in the gesture of prostration – he shares in the self-emptying of our “great high priest”, Jesus Christ.
The self-emptying of Christ saw God draw closer to man. The self-emptying of someone called to priesthood allows man to draw closer to God.
We say “what goes up must come down”. In the sacrament of ordination, “what goes down must come up.”
A man rises from his prostration in the Rite of Ordination having signified his entire vocation. His is a life of heroic service. Except now risen, he is not alone.
He rises with the people of God by his side to both support him and finally provide a focus for the love of his priestly heart.
Fr Daniele Russo is the Vocations Director for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
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