Friday, March 16, 2018 was a day of joy amidst the penitential days of Lent. St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary welcomed His Excellency Bishop de Galarreta who conferred the Minor Orders upon eight seminarians in the solemn annual ceremonies which have been for the Church a continual source of grace and joy.
Five seminarians received the orders of Porter and Lector, while three were raised to the orders of Exorcist and Acolyte. This year marks the second ceremony of Minor Orders in Virginia, the seminary again hosting dozens of friends and family members of the ordinands.
The ceremonies themselves, rich in symbolism, present to the eyes of all the charges and functions that fall to the newly ordained. Most notable is the presentation to the ordinandi of the insignia specific to their order. As the bishop speaks the prayers of ordination, the seminarians place their hands on the insignia and thus the order is conferred.
The bishop presents to the Porter the keys, indicating his mission of opening and closing the church, calling forth the faithful with the ringing of the bells, and guarding the sacredness of the church; the Porter is a guardian of the House of God.
The mission of the Lector is the public proclamation of the Word of God. During the ceremonies, it is by placing his hand on the Lectionary that the seminarian demonstrates his willingness to fulfill this office. The Lector must develop a burning love for Sacred Scripture and a zeal for the sanctification of souls.
The ordinand to the third order, that of Exorcist, is presented with the Rituale by which he may expel demons from the possessed and guard Christ’s faithful against the powers of the devil. The Exorcist receives the same power given to the Apostles over the demonic, and is likewise called to a life of purity and vigilance of soul.
Those raised to the order of Acolyte are charged with carrying the lighted candles during the holy ceremonies, an action representative of their mission to enlighten the faithful by their conduct and bring them ever closer to God. Acolytes are also given a more intimate role in the Divine Mysteries, the responsibility of bringing to the sacred ministers the water and wine which will become the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord.
As Bp. de Galarreta explained, these steps of Minor Orders are a constant reminder of the ultimate goal of the seminarian. For, the seminarian is not called simply to grow intellectually, but, by the progression of Orders, to be transformed into a priest of Jesus Christ and minister at His holy altar.
Join us on this joyful occasion in praying for the new ordinands, that they may faithfully fulfill the charges entrusted to them, and for the grace of many vocations to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.