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January 6, 1952     The Observer
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January 6, 1952
 

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'And Now I Am A Priest' a a The following article was written by Dr. Jordan at the re- transcending in importance the Sacrament. I was trembling, quest of N.C.W.C. News Service, which he has served for many one that now had been imposed overwhelmed with a joy not of years, and is continuing to serve as a news correspondent. Dr., this earth, in the realization that I had been chosen as an instru- Jordan was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 57, December ment of Divine Grace in the dis- 8, at the Benedictine Archabbey of Beuron, Germany. The rare character of the event was deemed ample reason for asking him to acquaint the millions of readers who know him through his dis- patches with the thoughts and feelings of a newspaperman or- dained at 57. REV. DR. MAX JORDAN Beuron, Germany -- "That you may be blessed as a priest . . .!" Archbishop Aloisius J. Muench, Bishop of Fargo and Apostolic Nuncio to Germany, the golden mitre on his head, the crozier in his right hand, had imparted to me his solemn blessing at the end of my ordination. I had recited the Creed and promised "rever- ence and obedience" to him as my Ordinary, and to his successors. Now I was a priest: a minister of the eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ. A priest forever "accord- ing to the likeness of Melchise- dech" (Hebr. 7, 15). In rapt silence, the congrega- tion which was packing the church of this famed Benedictine Abbey had witnessed the rites at the altar My family and many dear friends were present in the front pews. The choir of monks had chanted the Mass of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, But I was alone with my God. O Lord, how wonderful are the ways of Thy Providence! In Thy infinite mercy hast Thou received ~e as Thy servant. Through the bounty of Thy unfathomable grace hast Thou fulfilled the deep longing of my soul. Twenty-seven years ago I had been given the greatest gift any man can obtain: the Faith. Visits to Beuron, the experience of the Benedictine liturgy, contacts with the Fathers who are the guardians of one of Europe's most popular sanctuaries and pilgrimage cen- ters had then been the determining factors of my conversion from Protestantism. Twenty-seven years ago I had become a Catholic, and ever since I had felt the calling to become a ]priest, to go all out in the follow-i mg of Christ, to devote myself l heart and soul to the service of i His Church. And now the high goal was achieved. I had become a priest. I was looking back on the years of my life, on my travels all over the world as a newspaperman, on the variety of my experiences as a reporter and broadcaster, always in the forefront, as it were, of history, always concerned with the day's news -- and always yearning for the truth which is eternal, for the values which transcend the mere ephemerals of human affairs. St. Augustine had long convin- ced me that the heart of man can- not find rest unless it rests in God, but it seemed that I was de- stined to serve Him as best I could, as a layman, battered about in the stream of contemporary events. Even before becoming a con- vert, I had longed for a life en- tirely devoted to the service of the Church, as priest, or Relig- ious perhaps However, a good many obstacles stood in my way. Family obligaticns, ties to the world which could not be severed without, perhaps, causing harm to others, a political situation fraught with extraordinary uncer. tainties which affected my own as well as the destinies of other people to such an extent that per- sonal ambitions and legitimate hopes seemed of little consequence ---these and other factors caused one delay after another. Then finally, after a long wait and a severe trial, the grace of God cleared my path. Now I ar,a priest, born anew in Christ as His servant. During that solemn moment when the Bishop laid his hands on me to confer upon me the dignity of the priesthood, and then one by one, all the priests present performed the same symbolic ritual in the "majesty of silence," I knew that the calling which so long had moved my soul had found its su- preme fulfillment. "Thou hast formed me, and hast laid thy hand upon me" (Ps. 138, 5). This fullness found its most stirring expression in the rite of the initiation when my hands were anointed and I was allowed to touch for the first time chalice and paten while the monks' choir intoned t ,,v.--" -~ he --=,,, ~reator Spirit- us" which is above all the prayer of priesthood. "No longer do I call you ser- vants," says the Bishop. at this point of the liturgy, using John 15, 15, "but I have called you friends." And the choir sings "Receive the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete." I stood there m front of the altar, "in facie ecclesiae" ("be- fore the Church"), reciting the Creed. And I remembered: "You are my friends, if you do the things I command you" (John 15, 14) I had entered into an eternal pledge of divine love under the seal of His Church. What a contrast to my previous life! In the presence of the Holy of Holies it seemed so far behind me. Suddenly I found myself re- moved from the world and its cares, into the very presence of God. Could there be any allegiance ul~n me? Indee~l, O Lord, Thy yoke is sweet and Thy burden is light. Yours is the promise of eternal life. I do not know if any newly or- dained priest has ever been able to find the right words to de- scribe the tremendous, soul-stir- ring experience of the First Mass. Probably no one would dare at- filling the wide nave of the church, the emotion deep in my heart Vatican City --(Radio, NC)-- Three weighty reasons make it im- practicable to open the tomb of St. Peter to the general public, Msgr. Ludwig Kaas, secretary of the Sacred Congregation of the Basili- ca of St. Peter, told this corres- pondent. (1) The space leading to the tomb is so narrow that a person almost has to be an acrobat to get there. (2) St. Peter's tomb is sur- rounded by other priceless relics which could easily be destroyed by a careless public. (3) A person un- trained in archaeology could tell little if anything from seeing the tomb. Archaeologists themselves had considerable difficulty in getting to the tomb, the Monsignor said. Only by "acrobatics" do they reach it. Monsignor Kaas supervised the work of the excavations. "I would tremble for the destruc- tion of an important and priceless relic if you, for example, were to try to reach the tomb," the Man- of maneuvering through the nar- row opening one must put his foot with full weight on one of the most ancient tombs that surround the grave of St. Peter, Monsignor Kaas said. There would be real danger about its holding such weight. Many other things make it hard to reach the tomb. There are, for ex- ample, the successive ornamental constructions placed around the grave, the foundations for the pres- ent papal altar and the supports for the great bronze columns sup- pQrting Bernini's baldachino. St. Peter's grave is located just where continuous tradition has al- ways believed it to be, the priest stated The very clustering of these ancient graves as close as possible around the sacred spot of St. Peter's burial, while providing maximum evidence and guidance in identifying the spot, has at the same time made it extremely diffi- cult to get to the tomb, Monsignor Kaas said. Concerning the things found there, Monsignor Kaas was very definite in deploring the "wild" press reports which spoke of "the bones of St. Peter being found and being preserved in an urn in the Pope's private chapel." tempt it. To approach the altar, to be intimately united with the tab- ernacle, to hold the Body and the Blood of Our Lord in one's hands and to pronounce in trepidation and awe the holy words of conse- cration . . . When this sublime, loftiest, most exalted of myster- ies, God's coming on earth, the God-Man manifesting Himself in our midst, becomes a reality in the abandohment ef our self to the revelation from on high, then, in- deed, we can but cover our face as the angels did in Isaias' vision of the Lord's unfathomable glory, in prayer and adoration. The priest ascends the altar, and then descends from it to carry the consecrated Bread of Life to the faithful. Vested in the holy robes I was wearing for the first time in my life, deacon and sub- deacon on my sides, I, too, now was taking the chalice with the "pure and sacred Hosts" to the Communion rail. There knelt rela- tives and friends, to receive the which reflected a sense of loving unity in Christ with all my fellow- men, near and far. If only, I prayed, this would always be sol If only I could be worthy of these boundless blessings that had come to me through God's overpowering mercy! .... I was ordained at an age where not too many years remain, with an active life in the world behind me. Yet, if our Divine Master calls us to His service, we can- not shrink from being His wit- nesses. There is no task in this world more important, no duty more pressing, no promise greater than to conform to His image. Now that I am a priest I begin to understand what St. Paul meant when he said: "I do not consider that I have laid hold of it already. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind, I strain forward to what is before, I press on towards the goal, to the prize of God's heavenly call inChrist Jesus" (Phil. 3, 13, 14). OUR SUNDAY VISITOR llA-" The Observer Edition January 6, 1955 Britain's Catholic Population Put At 5,500,000 London--(NC)--The total Cath- olic population of all Great Brit- ain now is around 5,500,000, ac- cording to the 1952 Catholic Di- rectory, just published. Catholics of England and Wales number 2,837,700 according to the latest available figures. These are Catholics who live regularly in one parish and are known to the clergy, but there are many more and the rough figure of Cath- olics for England and Wales is put at 4,000,000, or one-tenth of the general population. Scotland has another 1,000,000 and Northern Ireland 500,000. The official figures for England and Wales show an increase over the year of 25,100. The Liverpool archdiocese heads the list with 430,000 Catholics, followed by the Westminster (London) archdiocese with 345,000. Catholic conversions in 1950 de- creased by 507 to 11,010 and mar- riages by 1,927 to 34,157. Churches and chapels open to the public total 2,867. There are also 911 pri- vate chapels where Mass is offered once a week. The number of diocesan priests q" in England and Wales is 4,237, a drop of 126 from the prewous year, but the number of members of religious orders rose by 82 to 2,447. The number of Catholic schools is 2,080 with 525,437 chil- dren, some of them non-Catholics, 'Tomb enrolled. Students for the priest- ,J hood number 799 seniors and 771 L I juniors. -- The diocesan clergy includes 118 whateverREV" JOS:PHd SULLreI:s:: of ]Iound e European voluntary workers. -- there, is much that may yet b I Polish priests and chaplains of A great deal has lready been learned about the first basilica's outlines and dimensions, Monsignor Kaas said. But there is much more that probably can be discovered. There is the well-known "circus of Nero," a race course, which still eludes searchers. The Monsignor and his crew are ready to carry on and the Holy Father wishes them to do so. 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Monsignor Kaas' particular con- cern throughout the entire project has been the direction and coordin- ation of the technical work of the excavations and the even more ira- portant and more difficult problem of safeguarding all parts of the at- tual building from possible damage during the operations of unearth- ing the small but real city of the dead directly beneath the tremen- dous edifice of, St. Peter's. As it has turned out, the priest said, in- stead of being endangered by the excavations, the structure has ac- tually been strengthened through the reinforcements which have been made. Next on the schedule, Monsignor Kaas said, is the work of protect- ing from damage what has so far been brought to light. It seems al- most impossible that more can be done in the way of making access to the grave itself and its imme- diate area possible for the public, he added. It i~ hoped that the work of further excavations both beneath St. Peter's and beyond can be un- dertaken, he said, for it seems that Pope Orders Cause Of South American Nun Opened Vatican City --(NC)-- His Hol- iness Pope Pius XII has decreed the opening of the apostolic pro- cess of Sister Mercedes of Jesus Molina, Ecuadorian-born found- ress of the Congregation of Mari- ana of Jesus. The Holy Father took this ac- tion after preliminary investiga- tions conducted by the dioceses of Riobamba and Cuena in Ecuador "Bones were indeed found," the had "been studied and approved by German-born priest said, "and the Sacred Congregation of Rites some of them are pictured in the here. official publication. Naturally, Sister Mereedes of Jesus was they have been and are carefully born at Guayaquil in the early 19th preserved and studied. The proba-i century. She led an extraordinary bility that many more martyrs and [ life of prayer, penance and mis- saints than we will ever know were [ sionar~ labor, evangelizing the In- buried" there in the same area]dians m Ecuador's eastern forests. makes it only normal to preserve She died in 1883.