On June 1st Father Scott Carpentier was ordained to the Priesthood in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence. Bishop Tobin's Homily is reprinted here for the enjoyment of our readers:
Along with my brother bishops I am very happy to welcome you to the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul for a beautiful and blessed event – the ordination of our two brothers to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ!
Welcome to the families and friends of Scott and Thomas . . . to our priests, deacons, consecrated religious and seminarians . . . to the members of their home parishes, and the parishes where our deacons have served . . . to the representatives of the seminaries where our ordinandi have received such fine formation for the ministry they are about to assume. All are welcome! Thank you for coming!
A word of profound gratitude to all those to have planned our liturgy today and to those who are assisting in any special way. Thank you so much for your good work and for allowing us to “worship in spirit and truth.”
And to you, Scott and Tom, we offer our very sincere congratulations, prayers and blessings. God has led you here; He has created you for this moment. Your ordination is the culmination of several years of careful discernment, fervent prayer, hard work and of course the generous outpouring of God’s grace.
You come to the Priesthood from rather diverse backgrounds – you come from different parishes, in different parts of the state; you have varied personal and professional backgrounds; you have studied at different seminaries. One is young . . . and the other, even younger!
But what you share is the desire to give yourselves completely and generously to Our Lord Jesus Christ for the service of God’s people in the ministerial priesthood. And for that we commend you and we give thanks and praise to Almighty God!
In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus asked St. Peter three times: “Do you love me?” And St. Peter answered, “Lord you know everything; you know that I love you.” St. Peter would go on to answer that question not only with his words, but with his life – by living and dying for Christ.
My brothers, I suspect that you have heard Jesus ask you the same question: “Do you love me?” And your most definitive answer is found in your very presence today. You have come here to say: “Lord, you know that I love you . . . I am here because I love you, I want to follow you and give my life to you.”
The priesthood is a wonderful gift that Jesus gave to the Church because of His wisdom and love, and because of His thirst for the salvation of every soul. Our faith tells us that the priesthood involves not just a different set of functions, but indeed a brand new identity. In this sacrament a priest is forever and uniquely bound to Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest.
It is for that reason that a priest is consecrated, “set apart” from others. Being “set apart,” however, does not mean being “set above.” A priest who thinks that he is “above” his people is unfit for service. But a priest is “set apart” so that he can be more easily identified as a servant, a man ready and willing to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of God’s people.
That, of course, is the motive for the sacrifices you make, my brothers – your public commitment to prayer, obedience, and celibacy – so that you can be centered on Christ, and be more readily available to serve the needs of the Church, whatever, wherever they might be.
We have a perfect context for your ordination today, and for your First Mass tomorrow, namely the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the “Body and Blood of Christ” that the Church celebrates tomorrow. This coincidence of dates highlights for us very nicely the intimate connection between the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood of Christ.
The Book of Genesis tells us that the priest Melchizedek offered bread and wine to God. And you are ordained “according to the Order of Melchizedek.” Therefore you too offer bread and wine to God – but now transformed by your words and the power of the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Christ as the perfect sacrifice of the New Covenant.
Our Holy Father, Pope Emeritus Benedict, spoke clearly of the spiritual bond between the Priesthood and the Eucharist. In a homily addressed to priests, he said:
The ministerial priesthood entails a profound relationship with Christ who is given to us in the Eucharist. Let the celebration of the Eucharist be truly the center of your priestly lives; in this way it will be also the center of your ecclesial mission.
Pope Benedict spoke of the Eucharist as “the center of your priestly lives and the center of your ecclesial mission.”
In other words, dear brothers, it will be in the Eucharist – celebrated, received and worshipped – that you will find the font of personal spiritual growth, the most important task of every priest.
I urge you to remember always the great dignity of the Holy Priesthood that is conferred upon you today, and in the words of St. Paul “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness and patience.” The people of God demand and deserve nothing less. How much the world, and our Church, needs the witness of zealous and holy priests!
It is in the Eucharist that you will find the strength and the reason to sacrifice yourself and your personal needs every day, as you unite your sacrifice to the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
It is from the Eucharist that you will be motivated to go forth and preach the Gospel in its fullness and richness, whether convenient or inconvenient, as you take up the challenge of the New Evangelization in our time. And be very clear about this, my brothers – in proclaiming the Gospel you will encounter fierce resistance – you will be swimming against the powerful tide of our increasingly secular, pagan, and atheistic world.
It is in the Eucharist that you will experience the love of God, and thus be led to share that love with others, especially the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the immigrant, the unemployed, the imprisoned, the sick, and those who mourn the loss of a loved one.
And it is in the Eucharist that you will find a faithful friend in Jesus, your brother, who will be with you in good times and in bad, in moments of joy and sorrow, success and failure, victory and defeat, and life and death, as the remainder of your life’s story unfolds before you.
My brothers, the great theologian, Karl Rahner, said that “a priest is not an angel sent from heaven.” I suspect that your family and friends who know you well will confirm the truth of that statement – that you are not angels sent from heaven!
But continuing on Rahner says:
The priest is not an angel sent from heaven. He is a man, a member of the Church, a Christian. Remaining man and Christian, he begins to speak to us the Word of God . . .
Perhaps he has not entirely understood it himself. Perhaps he falters and stammers. How else could he speak God’s word, ordinary man that he is? . . . But must not some one of us say something about God, about eternal life, about the majesty of grace in our sanctified being?
My brothers, in the name of Christ and His Church – we need you to be good, holy and faithful priests. Despite your unworthiness – speak to us the Word of God! Point us to eternal life! And, in your life and ministry, remind us of the majesty of God’s grace! Amen.