My Ordination 1968
When I illustrated my June 4 post about starting a joint police cadets/seminarians group I put up pictures of a young priest and a young policeman, which I found by simply googling “young priest” and “young policeman”. So I’m afraid those of you who thought that the priest was me in my younger days were wrong. To prove it, here is a picture of my mother and me, taken just after my ordination to the priesthood in St Salvador’s, Edinburgh on June 14, 1968.
I am astonished I look so calm in the picture, since the ordination was long and very moving for me. I was priested on my own and in the parish where I had served for nearly a year as a deacon. The year before I had been made deacon in St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh (the largest ecclesiastical building in Scotland) with another seminarian. This, I believe, is the right way round: the deacons can be ordained together in the Cathedral, because it is mostly their friends and family who will be there for them. But once a deacon has been in a parish for a year, his priesting is, I think, best done in that parish, because by this time he has come to know a great number of the parishioners who want to be at his ordination to the priesthood. This is how my two ordinations were done.
My priesting was on the Feast of St Barnabas, the “Son of Consolation”, and I have always had a special devotion to him and tried to follow his example of being there when people needed to be consoled and cared for amid “the trials and tribulations of this mortal life”. St Barnabas’s Day that year was on a Wednesday and the following day was Corpus Christi. So I had the wonderful experience of singing the High Mass of Corpus Christi for my First Mass. Talk about seventh Heaven!
The Mass was beautiful. St Salvador’s has a beautiful altar of green Iona marble carrying six tall silver candlesticks.. The sanctuary is wide and spacious, sweeping gently down to the nave with nothing between the altar and the people. I did all the right things for a first Mass, blessing the congregation individually, after which they kissed the palm of my hand where the Bishop had anointed me the day before (no, I hadn’t washed it off!). I presented my mother with a bouquet of red roses and laid a similar one at the feet of Our Lady.
One tiny incident during this Mass I will never forget. While I was saying the Canon, I kept hearing little “pssts” and I wondered if someone was trying to attract my attention. But when I eventually looked round I saw it was the thurifer, who was overcome by the occasion: his tears were falling on the thurible and making the little noises as they turned to steam!