Ordinations are weird stuff. A big dose of pomp and circumstance, not a little formality, an eye of newt, some magic stuff and mystery aplenty.
(A young boy, watching an ordination of a bishop, turned to his father when all the assembled bishops gathered round the kneeling ordinand to lay hands on him, and asked, "What are they doing to him, Daddy?" The father answered--with as much truth as irony--"They're taking out his back bone....")
I once told an ordinand in my sermon for his ordination, "Michael, always remember you are an almost irrelevant functionary of an irrelevant institution." And I meant it. The bishop who was there was not amused and yelled at me in the vesting room afterwards.
You see, I think the church takes itself entirely too seriously. The minutia and flotsam and jetsam of the church is of no interest to the vast majority of the human race. It is just 'sound and fury signifying nothing' much.
The new Pope is putting a little intrigue and pizazz back into organized religion, I'll give him that. But, for the most part, most Roman Catholics might feel proud to have Francis, but the doctrine and dogma of the church has next to nothing to do with their day to day lives.
But given how irrelevant it all is, ordinations are high fun!
Lots of marching. Lots of singing. Quite a bit of chanting. Clerics all gussied up in their liturgical finery. A bishop with an odd looking hat and what looks all the world like a cane for someone 9 feet tall.
One of the ugliest moments I've ever encountered was after one of my classmates was ordained and his wife wrote a letter to Bern saying, "his hands changed". Bern was bouncing off furniture for some time, tearing up the letter and saying things a priest's wife (though I was technically still a deacon then) has never been known to say.
"If your hands change" I remember her telling me, "don't ever touch me again!!!"
My hands didn't 'change' and neither will Rowena's on Saturday. Ordination doesn't deal with the 'essence' of the priest, only with the 'accidents'.
Which makes the whole thing an accident.
I'll deal with that tomorrow.
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