Christ has Risen! Truly He has risen!
This Wednesday I will have the privilege of attending the Episcopal Ordination of Msgr. Dan Mueggenborg. Msgr. Mueggenborg is a priest from the diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma. While I was a seminarian at the North American College in Rome, he served as a member of the faculty.
Msgr. Mueggenborg has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle and will be ordained to the episcopacy there. Surprisingly, after 17 years of seminary and priestly ministry, I have never been present at an episcopal ordination. Both in light of the exceptionally convenient location of his ordination and having some personal experience with Msgr. Mueggenborg, I am very much looking forward to participating in the ordination.
An episcopal ordination, such as this, reminds us that the Sacrament pertaining to ordination is the only Sacrament for which we use the plural in naming it, i.e. the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Uniquely, this Sacrament contains within itself three degrees or orders–deacon, priest, and bishop. Though the three orders of this Sacrament are often considered in terms of levels, they can also be understood in terms of emphasis.
For his part, the deacon is ordained to be a servant of Christ. As the Catechism states, “deacons receive the strength to serve the people of God.” If we recall sacred Scripture, deacons were ordained by the first bishops (the Apostles) specifically to help them to fulfill their duty to care for the poor and marginalized. The need to care for the poor and marginalized continues for priests, since every priest is first ordained a deacon. This call is added to the obligation of sacrifice. The priest is especially assigned to be a minister of the Sacred Mysteries and, in particular, to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. Therefore, bishops ordain priests to help them celebrate the most holy sacrifice in every place throughout the world and to ensure that the people of God should never be fully deprived of the Bread of Life, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In addition to ministering to the poor and offering himself as sacrifice, Jesus also devoted himself to teaching. Though deacons and priests certainly help in proclaiming the Gospel, the emphasis on preaching and teaching is the special role of bishops. This, too, we can see clearly in Scripture when the Apostles (the first bishops) chose seven men to serve as deacons. “Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task (serving widows and orphans), whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
This week I invite us all to pray for Msgr. Mueggenborg and all bishops that they may be both faithful and bold in proclaiming the Gospel.
Praise be Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, now and forever!