On Wednesday the Gospel for the liturgy of the day summarized the purpose of sacred ministry beautifully: “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). Ministry, whether sacred ministry performed by bishops, priests, and deacons, or ministries performed by other members of the faithful, are always ministries of service. Seminarians as part of their preparation for ordination are instituted in the ministries of Lector and Acolyte to assist in certain liturgical functions.
In the case of the Legionaries they receive it one or two years before their diaconate ordination. As a professor this means my students to be within a year, and the students I have just taught are instituted each year in the ministries of Lector (my future students) and Acolyte (my past students). If that isn’t a blessing enough, living in Rome means I can usually attend their ordinations as well (as I did this year). Last Wednesday I concelebrated in the Mass where my past and future students were instituted in the ministries. This is the language Paul VI used: instituted in the ministries. The focus is not so much on being a minister as on the ministry, the service, that needs to be performed for the good of the faithful.
As a sacred minister, a priest who doesn’t stop being a deacon, a servant, I can tell you that this is the key to being who Our Lord calls you to be: seeing and acting from the point of view of service. Let’s pray for these young men to continue to advance and grow in service.