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Prostration at ordination

27 Jul 2015, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sacraments

Have you ever attended the ordination of a Catholic priest? It is an amazing ceremony that always leads me into deep meditation, even though we are sometimes distracted and carried away by the social celebration of this great mystery. At the ordination ceremony, you just seat and watch how the grace of God takes an ordinary and sinful man and transform him into something mysterious, something amazing. Rev. Fr. Federico Suarez describing who a priest is, says; A priest is another Christ. This is so by virtue of the nature of the priesthood itself, which is participation and continuance of Christ’s priesthood on the cross, where he died to redeem man from the slavery of sin. A priest is another Christ; amazing! A mere mortal, weak, and sinful man called into something holy. They are called individually by name, and they present themselves to the Church and to God.

At some point during the ordination ceremony, the ordinance lies prostrate before the altar of God. Some people ask, what is the significance of this prostration? This question reminds me of our Father in faith, Abraham. When the Lord appeared to him and asked him to walk blameless, Abraham fell on his face. He considered himself unworthy to face the Lord (Gen. 17:1-22).

Prostration is a sign or an expression of our unworthiness before God. When the ordinance prostrates themselves before God, they declare their unworthiness for the office for which they have been called. The priests are mere mortals called into the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Before them, the task is enormous, and so, like Moses and Aaron, they prostrate before God for help (Num. 20:2-8). They ask for mercy and purification like the leper who prostrated himself before the Lord (Lk. 5:12). They surrender to the will of God as the Master Jesus prostrated himself before the Father and surrender to his will (Mt. 26:39). Then, everyone kneels and calls on the Saints of God in heaven to intercede for the ordinance and the whole Church while the ordinance lies prostrate. He who in humility and in faith prostrates himself before the altar of God is able to stand by faith against every other altar.

  • Ada Reply

    whishng them fruitful years in God’s vineyard.

  • Fr Numbe Michael Reply

    Greetings and blessings brother!
    I am a Liturgy student of CIWA, and writing a paper on this same topic. I appreciate this insightful piece. keep the flag flying.
    I also humbly seek your assistance with sources on the topic, particularly on the history behind the Liturgical posture.