This Holy Saturday ordination brings me back the memory of the first I had the happiness of doing on the same day in 1833.
In the previous journal entry, Eugene had described the priestly ordination of Charles Bellon, and now he reminisced about the first priestly ordination he had ever performed as a newly-ordained bishop. It is a powerful revelation as to what went on in Eugene as he became God’s instrument of communicating the gift of the priesthood in an ordination. He exclaims: “This miracle is worked in every ordination I perform.”
Can I recall without emotion that the first fruit of my fecundity was the precious Father Casimir Aubert, the first on whom I imposed hands. No one could guess what transpired in my soul when in profound recollection I invoked the sovereign priest Jesus Christ with all the power with which I was invested to bring about this great miracle, and lifted up my hands over the dear head of my well-beloved son and passed on to him a share of that abundance of grace and power of which I had myself received the plenitude some months before.
It seemed to me that together with the Holy Spirit who came down on him and with the power of the Most High who was about to overshadow him, – for one may apply to this divine operation that transforms in a way the soul of the new priest as it makes it fruitful, the words of the angel to the Mother of God, – it seemed to me, I say, that my own spirit communicated itself to him, that my heart expanded in the outpouring of a charity, a supernatural love that produced in its turn something more than human.
It seemed to me that I could say like our divine Master that a power had gone out from me and I knew it. At all events I was in a transport with that very real and wholly-of-God power that I was passing on with force and efficacy and that I could say as it were went out from me, since it was in me radically through the character I possessed, all unworthy though I may be.
This miracle is worked in every ordination I perform and I experience it to a greater or lesser extent according to the quality of those on whom I impose hands, for I confess that paternal love is at work in the very midst of all these marvels, especially when I see my children disposed as I desire. Thanks be to God, it is what I believe I have perceived in the majority of those I have ordained up to now.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 25 March 1837, EO XVIII
Beautiful words that remind us that the priesthood is not a career but a God-given responsibility.