Renewal of Priestly Promises

Today I had the chance to attend the annual Chrism Mass in the diocese. Every Tuesday of Holy Week the priests of the diocese (100+) gather with the Bishop to renew their priestly promises and receive newly consecrated oils which will be used for annointings and sacraments. This is my first year attending and it brought great consolation to be in the presence of all the priest’s I’ll eventually be serving alongside. It was a powerful ceremony.


Chrism Mass Austin 2012

Chrism Mass 2012 (couldn’t find one from today) – Via Diocese of Austin Facebook

The most moving part of the Mass was the renewal of promises. At ordination each priest makes promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He gains the right to celebrate sacraments but also incurs the obligation to serve the Church and her people. Ordinations are exciting because you see the starry-eyed guys who’ve spent 7+ years in formation and are eager to “get out there” and get to work for the Kingdom. The zeal and desire is inspiring.

The renewal of vows is inspiring in another way. The priests span the range – old and new. Some priests are there for the 25th time. Some for the first. All have experienced the reality of priestly ministry (As a visiting priest at the seminary recently said – “It’s not a rainbows and waterfalls of grace…. sometimes it’s black and bruising”). These men have seen hard times, fought good fights, endured difficulty, and persevered through it. They’ve moved past the priestly honeymoon and continued in ministry. They’ve celebrated thousands of confessions, marriages, baptisms, and seen many of those people walk away, but they’re not giving up the good fight. They’re publicly declaring that they want to go back into the ring. They went through the ringer last year and showed up today to commit to another one. They’re not committing to an imagined future; they’re committing to a future they know well. That moves me.

More than the eloquent speeches among seminarians, or soaring words of writers, or text of Church documents… seeing these priests united with the Bishop in promises to love the Lord and serve his people was a moment of power. In the seminary we learn a lot of tools and techniques of priestly ministry. Today I witnessed a renewal of the heart of the priesthood – Union with Christ, celebration of Sacraments, and zeal to serve the people of God.

Words have power. They manifest the will and change lives. Priests’ words manifest God’s power in the world – effecting the change of bread into Christ’s body and forgiving sins. Today their words declared to the world that God will provide, His call is real, and they desire to serve Him to the end. I pray for the grace to do the same in the future.

The renewal of Priestly Promises:

Bishop: Beloved sons…
are you resolved to renew
in the presence of your Bishop and God’s holy people,
the promises you once made?

Priests: I Am

Bishop: Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus
and more closely conformed to him,
denying yourselves and confirming those promises
about sacred duties towards Christ’s Church
which, prompted by love of him,
you willingly and joyfully pledged
on the day of your priestly ordination?

Priests: I Am

Bishop: Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God
in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites
and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching,
following Christ the Head and Shepherd,
not seeking any gain,
but moved only by zeal for souls?

Priests: I Am

Life Update:

This year, the Seminary released us back to our dioceses for Holy Week. So, I’m back at St. Mary’s Catholic Center for a third round of MC’ing Triduum liturgies. With two years under my belt now, I’m ready to actually offer constructive help. Growth happens in small ways, but I see definite progress when I return more confident to situations I’ve experience before. Apparently something is working.

2 thoughts on Renewal of Priestly Promises

  1. Thank you, this is so educational and inspirational! I think it is important to note that the power of the Holy Spirit changes bread to the body and blood of our Lord and Savior which the Priest calls for with his words.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree with your note and didn’t intend otherwise. We have to live in the tension of both statements. The Holy Spirit is “doing” the action, but God has ordained that the change be acted out through the words of a human person. Without the words, it doesn’t happen. In Thomistic terms, God is the efficient cause (it originates in him) and the priest is the instrumental cause (the means by which the effect comes about). The priest only has power because it is given by God.


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