June 14, 2013
“So when I think about those words – service, discipleship, sacrifice, love – they all boil down to family and communion. It’s all about my desire to give my life to Christ and to receive life from Him; my desire to give my life to the people of God and to receive life from them.”
-Fr. Christopher Schwind
As a newly ordained priest I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on my ordination and what the priesthood means to me but I find it difficult to summarize in so short a space. Service, discipleship, sacrifice, love – these are just a few of the words that come to mind as I think about the gift of the priesthood that has been given to me. They are words on which volumes have been written – how can I possibly convey this?
I was blessed to celebrate Mass for the first time as a newly ordained priest on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, one of the most profound mysteries of our faith and a daunting subject to preach about, especially for a new priest. I spent many hours reflecting on the Gospel and the other readings but I was drawing a blank – and then it came to me. It came to me from an unlikely source, a little girl – my niece and goddaughter who would be making her first communion at a Mass of thanksgiving I was to celebrate at St. Hyacinth’s the day after my ordination. It’s all about family and communion. The Most Holy Trinity is all about family and communion. The priesthood is all about family and communion.
My niece was to experience Holy Communion with Christ through the Eucharist for the first time during this Mass but it wasn’t the first time she had experienced communion. She experienced it first in her family – with my brother, his wife and their two other children. I experienced communion for the first time in my own family – sharing my life with them and receiving life from my mother and father, my brother and two sisters. I still experience communion today through my family but as wonderful as it is to be a part of another person’s life, as wonderful as it is to receive life from another person and to give life to them, it is only a reflection of that perfect communion that exists between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: three distinct persons giving and receiving, receiving and giving in such perfect love and communion that they share a single life – the divine life.
The priesthood is all about family and communion – communion with Christ and communion with my new family at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Pampa. We are all the Body of Christ, we share one life in Christ; we are in communion not only with Christ but with one another. So when I think about those words – service, discipleship, sacrifice, love – they all boil down to family and communion. It’s all about my desire to give my life to Christ and to receive life from Him; my desire to give my life to the people of God and to receive life from them. It’s all about striving for that perfect communion that has been revealed to us that exists between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The weekend of my ordination was filled with joy. I celebrated Mass four times over the weekend and each time I was shown such love and communion that I knew the words of Jesus were true: there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age. I thank the parishioners of St. Vincent de Paul, the parishioners of St. Hyacinth’s, the inmates at the Jordan Unit and all the people of the Diocese of Amarillo – you have given me far more than I have given you.
Blessed be God.