Institution of Acolyte

Dear sons in Christ, as people chosen for the ministry of acolyte, you will have a special role in the Church’s ministry.  The summit and source of the Church’s life is the Eucharist, which builds up the Christian community and makes it grow.  It is your responsibility to assist Priests and Deacons in carrying out their ministry, and as special ministers to give Holy Communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick.  Because you are specially called to this ministry, you should strive to live more fully by the Lord’s Sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness.  You should seek to understand the deep spiritual meaning of what you do, so that you may offer yourselves daily to God as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Jesus Christ.  In performing your ministry bear in mind that, as you share the one bread with your brothers and sisters, so you form one Body with them.  Show a sincere love for Christ’s Mystical Body, God’s holy people, and especially for the weak and the sick.  Be obedient to the commandment which the Lord gave to his Apostles at the Last Supper: “Love one another as I also have loved you.”

Brothers and Sisters, let us pray to the Lord for those chosen by him to serve in the ministry of acolyte.  Let us ask him to fill them with his blessing and strengthen them for faithful service in his Church.

God of mercy,
Through your only Son
you entrusted the bread of life to your Church.
Bless + our brothers
who have been chosen for the ministry of acolyte.
Grant that they may be faithful
in the service of your altar
and in giving to others the Bread of Life;
may they grow always in faith and love,
and so build up your Church.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Each candidate goes to the Bishop, who gives him a vessel with the bread or wine to be consecrated saying:

Take this vessel with bread (wine)
for the celebration of the Eucharist.
Make your life worthy of your service
at the table of the Lord and of his Church.
Amen.

[Prayers and texts taken from the Roman Pontifical]

Last night those of us in 3rd Theology that hadn’t yet received the ministry of acolyte were instituted by Archbishop Aquila at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, consequently I was one of those who received the ministry of acolyte.  This is the third minor order I needed to receive prior to diaconate ordination (the other two minor orders are the Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders and the Institution of Lector, both of which I have already received).  The ministry of acolyte is centered around the Eucharist.  It means that I will serve more closely at the altar during the Sacrifice of the Mass, assisting deacons and priests in their ministry of service (including purifying sacred vessels) and as an acolyte I have a special role in bringing Jesus in the blessed Sacrament to the sick.

This road I’m on towards Holy Orders keeps flying by faster than I expect.  It seems like only yesterday I was a nervous “newbie” entering seminary for the first time at Conception Seminary College and had no idea what God had planned for me.  I knew that I was trying to follow God and He led me to seminary.  I remember in those days thinking that ordination was “years” away and I had plenty of time to learn and prep for it.  But looking at it now, I can’t help but laugh at how naive I was.  Diaconate ordination for me is only months away and I realize now that I’m still not “ready” for it, but I have come to learn that He will provide for me if only I daily put my trust in Him.  During the past four years I have learned a lot about my Catholic Faith, but also I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I have been challenged; I have struggled with myself; I have laughed, cried, grown, healed, and am being ever more propelled by God to keep saying “YES” to Him.  I realize now I will never be “ready” as the inner perfectionist in me wants to be for ordination, but ultimately that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I keep saying YES to God my heavenly Father and keep placing my trust in Him.  And this is by no means easy!  The part of me that tends towards pelagianism keeps trying to do everything myself (my prayer, my studies, my practicum, my relationships with others, etc.), and do it perfectly on my own.  Last night was a reminder to me that this is not the case and cannot be the case.  I did not achieve this ministry by anything I did (by “doing” something myself), but God gave me this ministry as a way to give glory to Him, amid my own weakness and imperfection.  God, who is love, gives freely if only we are open to receiving Him.  He gives himself to us as a gift, principally in Jesus Christ.  I will never be able to merit God by “achieving him” by works.  My works will glorify God, but they will not earn me love.  These ministries I have received I have not “achieved” but have rather received them as a gift from an infinitely generous God who desires me to be His priest and this is one of the steps along that path.  I will never be the “perfect” acolyte (or lector, or priest), but rather will strive for perfection with God as my helper.

Lord, I ask for the grace to carry out your works with humility, help me to bring others to know the love you have for them by my life.

My brother and I after the Mass when I was instituted as an acolyte.
My family was able to come be a part of the liturgy.
Additionally Fr. Brian Hess’ parents (a second set of parents to me) came down to be a part of this event.
Deacon Joe joined in the celebration and sat at my table during the banquet following the Mass.

 

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