To close our coverage of the Ordination to the Presbyterate of Fr. Matt Kuczora, C.S.C., we share a reflection from Mr. Jarrod Waugh, C.S.C., a third-year temporarily professed seminarian. He and his classmates are now in the on-deck circle as they will, God willing, take Final Vows and be ordained deacons in August. Not surprisingly, his experience of the Ordination Mass this past Saturday hit close to home.
First of all, I want to say how happy I am for Fr. Matt, for his family, and for our whole Congregation. I wish once again to extend to him congratulations on his ordination to the priesthood. As I know Fr. Matt would attest, the formation process for religious life and priesthood can be a long road, filled with many challenges and even more blessings.
With Fr. Matt’s hands now generously anointed with Sacred Chrism, there is no longer a “class” in the U.S. Province’s formation program left ahead of my own. Now Brian Ching, C.S.C., Mark DeMott, C.S.C., and I are the furthest advanced in the program, and Fr. Matt’s ordination is the last Holy Cross ordination that I will witness before, God willing, the three of us attend our own Diaconate ordination Mass in August.
It makes the whole ordination liturgy even more powerful when you know that your own is now likely so close. This allowed me to see the whole thing with new eyes, even though I have witnessed several Holy Cross Ordinations before.
The Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer used at Ordination Masses (the same as is used for the Chrism Mass) states that men ordained to the priesthood “give up their lives for You (God) and for the salvation of their brothers and sisters.” For me, this is most powerfully displayed at two moments in the liturgy: the procession past the Baptismal Font, full of the Easter water in which new Christians were so recently initiated, and secondly, when Fr. Matt lay prostrate on the Basilica floor, praying silently while the assembly sang the Litany of the Saints.
Religious Vows and Ordination of course require many “deaths to self” in ways small and large, obvious and hidden. Fr. Matt was truly laying down his life for the service of Jesus’ Body, the Church, so that as a priest he can administer to the faithful that selfsame Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
I was struck by the thought that, very soon, it will be my classmates and me processing in, then laying there. It will be my family in those front pews – probably my mom crying – and my own heart beating against the Basilica floor as the names of the saints – my friends, patrons, and intercessors in Heaven – are sung from the choir loft, from the mouths of my friends, family, and brothers in Holy Cross, and from the grateful hearts of Brian, Mark and me.
Those will be my hands in the lap of the bishop … but really just mine briefly, because through the grace of Holy Orders, I pray, they will be made the Hands of Christ, and my heart made more like His.