The mother of a priest

The mother of a priest

Three years ago today, at the conclusion of my ‘First Mass,’ I placed flowers before an image of Our Lady, and consecrated my priestly ministry to her Immaculate Heart.

But immediately before that, I presented my own mother with a special gift. The previous day, the bishop had anointed my hands with the Oil of Chrism. I used a specially bought cloth (an embroidered purificator, I recall) to remove the excess oil from my hands. It was this cloth, perfumed by the Chrism, which I presented to Mum after my First Mass.

This custom is the modern variation of an old and venerable tradition, wherein a newly ordained priest presented to his mother his manitergium.

The manutergium (from the Latin manu+tergium = hand towel) is a long cloth that was used in the preconciliar rite of ordination. It was wrapped around the hands of the newly ordained priest after the Bishop anointed his hands with the sacred Chrism. The purpose was to prevent excess oil from dripping onto vestments or the floor during the remainder of the ordination rites.

The manutergium (from the Latin manu+tergium = hand towel) is a long cloth that was used in the preconciliar rite of ordination. It was wrapped around the hands of the newly ordained priest after the bishop had anointed his hands with the sacred Chrism. The purpose was to prevent excess oil from dripping onto vestments or the floor during the remainder of the ordination rites.

According to tradition, the mother of a priest is to keep this precious cloth in a safe place. When she is buried, the cloth is placed in her hands. In the case of an open coffin, it serves as a reminder that one of her sons is a priest — a rare honour given to few.

The practice also evokes a pious legend, which imagines that when the mother of a priest finally meets our Lord face to face, and is asked that fateful question — “Did you love me?” — she can reply in the affirmative, presenting as part of her case, her Chrism-fragranced hands. This demonstrates that she loved our Lord so much, that she gave to him one of her sons, to serve him as a priest.

The literal details of that legend are of course superstitious, but I don’t think the gesture can be reduced to superstition. I think the presentation of the manutergium recognises and honours something profound. Not being a mother myself, I can’t very well describe it. (Perhaps I should ask my mum!)

In the meantime, we can consider this very moving footage from the ordination of three priests in Melbourne last June. If pictures tell a thousand words, then a motion picture must tell millions.

This video shows Fr Michael Kong, Fr Matthew Baldwin, and Fr Vinh Nguyen processing out at the conclusion of their ordination, and receiving the congratulations of their brother priests and seminarians. Then it cuts to Fr Michael blessing his mother, who is deeply, deeply, moved. That scene speaks volumes, I imagine, to what every woman of faith experiences, when her son becomes a priest.

H/T Bucky.

From Dad to Son

From Dad to Son

Here’s something for Father’s Day! You might recognise the story from Facebook or one of those chain e-mails which makes the round, but in fact it predates the Internet by several millennia.

Here’s Aesop’s take, circa 500 BC:

A farmer being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had given it. He called them to his bedside and said, “My sons, there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards.” The sons, after his death, took their spades and mattocks and carefully dug over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labor by an extraordinary and superabundant crop.

And here’s the modern take, not so much a lesson on the fruits of hard work, as it is glurge about a father and son. But sometimes glurge is good — especially on Fathers’ Day!

Ordination in Adelaide

Ordination in Adelaide

Adi Indra, a second year seminarian for the diocese of Sandhurst, has applied his considerable talents to the production of a short film promoting Corpus Christi College.

Having credited Adi, I don’t want to diminish the work of the priests and seminarians which collaborated with him. The result is an engaging and informative glimpse into seminary life.

One of the seminarians featured in the video is Rev Michael Romeo, whom Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson will ordain to the priesthood this Friday. Keep him especially in your prayers!

Saints’ First Communions

Saints’ First Communions

In about a month’s time, our grade three children, who earlier this year celebrated their first confession, and received the sacrament of Confirmation, will make their first holy communion.

I’ll meet with the parents tomorrow night to plan out the last four weeks of preparation. Youtube is usually a goldmine of good material for such meetings. Busted Halo, for example, produce some great catechetical videos.

But apart from that, I stumbled across this video about the first communions of St Josemaría and Pope Benedict — one of my favourite saints and one of my favourite popes, respectively.

There should be a whole lot more videos like this. A great many of the saints fondly recalled their first communion, but this is the only video of its kind on Youtube. So I’m going to make some more. How hard can it be? If you have any knowledge in video editing, or any details about a saint’s first communion, let me know via frjohncorrigan@gmail.com.

(Also, if you’ve got the ear of Pope Francis, ask him to share his memories too!)

The Known Universe

Early in my seminary career, I worked at Kanabea Catholic Mission in Papua New Guinea’s highlands. Remote from any semblance of light pollution, the night sky was awesome to behold. I’d often lie on my back, gaze at the stars, and ponder eternity.

This video is the online equivalent.

The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world’s most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History.

The suicide of Europe

The suicide of Europe

This week, one hundred years ago, the Great Powers of Europe were hurtling towards a war which would eventually draw in the entire Western sphere.

We know it as the First World War, which may be a bit parochial, because the theatres of war were largely confined to three continents, though there’s no denying its impact was global. Pope Benedict XV called it “the suicide of civilised Europe,” which is a better appraisal.

The war changed Europe and the West forever, and not for the good. It gave rise not only to totalitarian communism, the Nazi Holocaust and the Second World War, but also to the hedonism of the 1920s and 1960s, and to the moral and spiritual decline which has afflicted western civilisation since 1914.

Catholic News Service has produced an excellent 20 minute documentary which examines the origins and the aftermath of the Great War, and what lessons we can draw from it 100 years later. As Mark Twain famously observed, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.”