On this February morning, the sun illumines without warming
buried beneath the snow. On account of several storms, common in
the central U.S. this time of year, many families and friends had
to cancel their travel plans, giving up the opportunity to
surround the seminarians this
Candlemas. Nevertheless, nearly half
are about to take an important step towards the altar during the
course of the Pontifical Mass of Ordination celebrated by Bishop
“Do not let yourselves be saddened. It is, on the contrary,
a source of happiness to be able, through the Cross, to win souls
for God for eternity.”
The 15 seminarians of the second year receive the cassock,
sign of their consecration to God. Encircling the altar on bended
knee, their cassocks over their arms, they listen to the blessing
of the bishop. Having left the chapel to change, long minutes pass
by during which the words of the bishop keep coming to mind:
renouncement of the world to belong to God... the cassock, black
as death, the condition for living for God...
Emotion runs high for the families who see their sons
garbed all in black entering anew into the church, led by the
superior of the seminary!
makes the seminarian enter the Church’s hierarchy.
Then the 10 seminarians of the third year present
themselves, surplice over their arms, to receive the blessing.
They come to keel before the pontiff who in a symbolic gesture
cuts four locks of hair in the shape of a cross. “The Lord is
the portion of my inheritance,”
the new Levite says at this moment. It is an allusion to the Old
Testament tribe of Levi, who, possessing no territories in the
Promised Land, instead received for their services in the Temple
their Lord himself as inheritance.
The vesting with the surplice follows, symbol of this new
man, whom “divine love leads to the foot of the altar,”
who comes to be “adopted” by the bishop, and for whom the
bishop begs of God “charity and preservation from every stain.”
sons, consider that beginning today you are given a place of
prominence in the church and you participate in the privileges of
The surplice is the exterior mark of this distinction. At
the seminary, the clerics alone wear it in choir.
In virtue of
these ordinations, the seminarian receives special graces which
the layman does not receive, albeit he exercises the same
functions, such as sacristan.
Finally the 7 seminarians of the fourth year are called to
present themselves to receive the minor orders
of Porter and Lector. In his instruction, the Pontiff presents
them with the office of Porter: to open the doors of the church,
to ring the bells, and he already commends to them the souls of
the faithful. “May your word and your example close the door to
the devil and open the hearts of the faithful to the word of God
in order that they may keep it and accomplish it in good works.”
When they then touch the keys of the church, the bishop reminds
them also of the account they will have to render to God for such
an office. At the entrance of the church, one by one, they open
the door and ring the bell.
Having returned to the altar, they are ordained Lector for
the edification of the faithful. “May you believe with all you
heart and accomplish in your actions that which your lips read...
As you stand erect to read, you ought also to give good example
and practice a height degree of virtue than those who listen to
In his homily, Bishop Fellay remarks how, beginning with
the first steps towards the altar, the Church directs the gaze of
her Levites towards the souls that they will have to sanctify.
“I am the godfather of a vocation”
Fr. Rostand (District Superior of the United States) and
Lagarde assisted at the throne. The latter, despite his 88 years,
has made a long journey from Chambery (France) to assist at the
taking of the cassock of one of his former faithful, a seminarian
at Winona. Still young, this seminarian has entrusted his vocation
to Fr. Lagarde. “From this day on, I shall not cease praying
for him.” Indeed Fr. Lagarde has sung today the Nunc
Dimittis of the aged Simeon, we wish him to remain with us to
accompany his protégé to the altar.
belongs to the order of the impossible, we do not understand!”
Rising again to the scandal and impiety of Assisi, His
Excellency reminds all of the duty to protest and make reparation,
and he adds: “we are thinking of a new Rosary Crusade!”
“Despite the head, despite the leaders of the Church,