In discussions about the meanings of the Eucharist and its relationship with the Church, Vatican II in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium emphasises that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (LG 11). The Catechism of the Catholic Church also tells us that, “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of the communion in the divine life and the unity of the People of God.” (Catechism 1325). The Eucharist cannot be separated from the Church and the Church cannot exist without the Eucharist.
Because of the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Church, the Church unceasingly encourages young people to respond to God’s call in the vocation of priesthood and every year many are ordained to priesthood so that the Eucharist is frequently celebrated among God’s people.
Sharing our joy with the Church and the Blessed Sacrament Congregation globally, on 22 November 2021 - the feast of Saint Cecilia - the SSS Province of Vietnamese Martyrs was given eight newest deacons and six newest priests who were ordained by Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Archdiocese Sai Gon in the chapel of the Provincial House.
With the concerns of the Archbishop and the Province, due to the pandemic of Covid-19 with uncertainties and endangerment, and for the health and safety of many people, the ordination was celebrated with a very limited number of attendants. We trusted in God’s providence. At 8:30 am, Archbishop Joseph arrived at the Provincial House. Father Peter Cung - the Provincial - and the Provincial Consultants welcomed him, shared and discussed with him about the celebration of the ordination. At 9:00 am, the mass commenced with the procession, in the joy of the entrance hymn sung by the choir of the SSS scholastics.
In the chapel which was small but cosy, simply decorated but beautiful, only a few SSS priests and brothers were able to participate in the celebration. Unfortunately, parents, families and friends of our newly ordained priests and deacons could not make it. However, in such a disadvantageous situation compared with the celebrations of previous years, our newly ordained had a precious opportunity to deeply understand the importance of the grace of the holy orders that they received, as expressed in the Rites of Ordination, “Received the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” (Rites of Diaconate Ordination) and “…renew deep within them the Spirit of Holiness; may they henceforth possess this office, which comes from you, O God, and is next in rank to the office of Bishop, and by the example of their manner of life, may they instil right conduct.” (Prayer of Priesthood ordination). Every word and every act of the ordination rites are reminders of our religious life and the life of service, especially for us as the SSS religious. Jesus commanded his disciples and us as well, “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16).
Archbishop Joseph also reminded us of that mission in his homily, “Your call is to bring the Word of God and the Eucharist to God’s people for their nourishment”.
After the mass, the Provincial, on behalf of the Province, expressed our gratitude to Archbishop Joseph. In the midst of the pandemic, his presence and willingness to ordain our brothers was a great support, encouragement, and joy for the whole Province. In addition, the Provincial also gave thanks to our benefactors who have helped us in our mission and who contributed their parts to the beautiful celebration. It ended with a hymn devoted to the Vietnamese Martyrs - the patron saints of our Province, and with brotherly greetings to our newly ordained. Then we all took photos them and Archbishop Joseph. After the celebration, we shared in a fraternal meal with one another.
We wish the fire of the love of the Eucharist always burning in their hearts; and may the Eucharist be manifested to the world by their lives. May Mary - our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, our Founder - Saint Peter Julian Eymard, and the Vietnamese Martyrs journey with them always and help them to be faithful to the mission that they were entrusted on this special day.
Khiet Tam, 28 November 2021
Father Joseph Hoang Yen Linh, sss