Sunday, June 28, 2009

A New Priest

It was my privilege and pleasure to serve as subdeacon yesterday at the ordination of Emily Bloemker as a priest in God's church. Beth Felice captured a great series of photographs here.

While Emily was a student at Washington University, she was a member of the campus ministry led by Mike Kinman. Mike persuaded her to travel to our companion diocese (Lui, Sudan) in 2005. It is my understanding that that experience crystallized Emily's sense of vocation. She went from college to seminary, and yesterday we ordained her to the priesthood. I am so excited by her ministry and passion.

I love this photograph. It was taken during the sermon, and shows Emily so serious and intent and beautiful in her love for this ministry.

The nay-sayers accuse us of being heretics or unitarians. I can assure that, from my perspective, nothing could be further from the truth. We raised up an orthodox priest in Emily, who is committeed to evangelism and godly teaching.

May God richly bless Emily's ministry.

For those of you who may be interested, I served as subdeacon in Emily's ordination, so I appear in several of these photos at the Bishop's left hand.

You know I love serving in the liturgy of our church. Here are a couple of photos.

During the examination and ordination ...

and during the Eucharist ...

What an honor it was to serve in Emily's ordination and to participate in this liturgy.


Blogger Ann said...

what is that laying on the floor stuff?

6/28/2009 11:11 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

In our diocese, Ann, ordinands are given the option of kneeling or prostrating themselves during the intercessions that follow the BCP pg.527. I wish the prayers we used were online. They were very powerful prayers -- for the church and specifically for Emily's ministry.

6/28/2009 11:36 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

creeps me out -- guess my old low church sensibilities freak out with those sorts of gestures.

6/28/2009 11:38 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I think I hear what you're saying, Ann. But here ... it works. I see it as a powerful gesture of the new priest expressing her/his fervent need for the prayers of the church assembled and total dependence on the prayers of the whole church. Liturgically, I read it as an emptying of self, after which the ordinand rises and makes the bold declarations. I like that movement liturgically.

Mind you, I'm just a layperson -- not a theologician or liturgist. That's just what I "see" in that part of the ordination liturgy. YMMV.


6/28/2009 11:47 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I see it as a prostration of self before the bishop - along with the vows of obedience -- but whatever works in your place - I just could not do it.

6/28/2009 11:51 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Ann, does it help at all to know that the prostration occurs during intercessions and prayers of the people -- of the people who have raised her up to be a priest -- not during vows to the bishop?

But, yeah, this may just be a difference between us. I didn't realize you were so "low-church." I'm "high-church." A different in liturgical "style." That's all.

6/29/2009 12:11 AM  
Blogger WilliamK said...

I was delighted to see that your diocese provides the option of the full prostration. I'm also neither a theologian nor a liturgist... but my guess is that the "specialists" would be quite happy with the explanation you offered here. I guess what I would "offer" to Ann in this context is that the "high church" tradition emphasizes "full body religion," with many actions, gestures, and movements that are "outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual" states. The full prostration is a wonderful way for the ordinand to "incarnate" her recognition of her need for the prayers of the assembly and her surrender to God to be used as a minister of grace. I can only imagine what it felt like for this young woman to lie there as the intercessions washed over her. I would argue that we need more not less of this kind of "embodied spirituality."

6/29/2009 7:22 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Prostration on the floor face down while being prayed for would not work "bodily" for me -- standing with others holding me up would. Last night I was thinking it was my inner, old "anti-papish ways" tapes running -- but this morning I think it has more do do with a priest setting themselves in a context of community as local door mat. OCICBW. It is how it "reads" to me. But thanks for the pix and story -- and willingness to talk about it.

6/29/2009 7:35 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I must say that, 23 years ago, when my Anglo-Catholic bishop announced that I would be prostrate for the Litany of Ordinations, I was not a happy camper.

That was 23 years ago. I was - we all were - reacting against patriarchy. In many ways, we still are.

This is not about a reaction to patriarchy. This is about a response to God - to the power of the Spirit. It's the kind of emotion of which the Psalmists sang.

There are times for 'standing in solidarity' with the Risen Christ and there are times when it is important to prostrate oneself before the Living God who is doing a new thing.

For me - not for everyone, for me, ordination is one of those times.

I can tell you, having experienced it 23 years ago, that I can still feel the power of the Spirit present in that moment - lifting me up before God. One of my favorite pictures from my ordination is of me, prostrate, with the congregation surrounding me in prayer.

However, in my picture, the bishop and 'altar party' have moved themselves to the side and are, themselves, kneeling in prayer. I think that makes a better visual - more to the point of what is really going on. A minor liturgical detail that can make a very large difference.

Thanks for sharing these snaps, Lisa. You look great, BTW.

6/29/2009 7:55 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Fascinating discussion. Thanks to all of you.

Elizabeth, I like how it was done in your ordination, with the clergy moving aside and kneeling in prayer along with the ordinand. Yes! That would be an even more clear "message" of what's going on in that moment.

Ann, I wonder if this may help at all: During the rehearsal, Emily was told that she had her option of kneeling or lying prostrate. She said, "Let me think about that." When the liturgy occurred, she chose her stance. Nobody dictated it to her. .... Does that help?

6/29/2009 9:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

BTW: Thanks, Elizabeth for your "You look great" comment. I truly enjoyed the service. I am never happier than when serving in one of our liturgies.

6/29/2009 9:03 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

oh- I have no problem with whatever she chose to do - it is all about my reaction in this discussion!! (hmm all about me - that sounds familiar) LOL

6/29/2009 10:04 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

oh by the way - when I was ordained priest - the bishop took me by the hand and helped me to stand - then anointed my hands and head - now days in our diocese - the bishop has the ordinand stand and all in attendance lay hands on her or him.

6/29/2009 10:06 PM  
Blogger Caminante said...

I wish I had laid down on the floor during the litany for ordinations because for me it is symbolic of the total surrender to the Holy Spirit and yes the kenosis to God (though one is not trying to be Christ!). Watching our former choir director do it at his ordination is what made me regret not having prostrated myself. I am so glad I had my hands anointed. That still means so much.

And back when, I had one person reach her hand out to everyone else present so while people were not gathered around me they were in touch during the laying on of hands.

Whatever works for different people... the high church person gets 'creeped out' when the elements aren't touched during the prayer of consecration ;)

6/30/2009 7:22 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Caminante - thanks for your comments. Next time I preside I will try to remember to touch everything! BTW I was "slain in the Spirit" and found myself on my back on the floor - does that count? It was a great experience - a sense of the total freedom we find in Christ.

6/30/2009 8:36 AM  
Blogger susan s. said...

The last ordination I went to was my son's. There were 8 people being ordained then. One woman who was being ordained has bad knees, so everyone stood in solidarity with her. I was just as moved as I would have been if all had been prostrate. And I think we all were. Those prayers are pretty powerful from any position.

Elizabeth was right, Lisa. You looked great!

6/30/2009 9:08 AM  
Blogger susan s. said...

Oh and now that I looked at all the pictures I see someone else I know only from the web! Deacon Mark S. who was a friend of my son's first!

6/30/2009 9:16 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

look at me behind Jan.


6/30/2009 9:16 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

and Lisa the Litany for Ordinations is available online at:

6/30/2009 10:18 AM  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

All joy!

6/30/2009 2:33 PM  
Blogger JCF said...

Ahem: is the new priest single, per chance? ;-)

Re prostration: I think we went round&round 'bout this last year at OCICBW. Seems to me, that prostration works best when the ordaining bishop is facing the altar, not w/ the ordinand at their feet. In other words, Someone is worthy of prostrate worship, and it ain't the bishop! ;-/

6/30/2009 9:41 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Ann wrote: "oh by the way - when I was ordained priest - the bishop took me by the hand and helped me to stand - then anointed my hands and head."

That sounds wonderful!

7/01/2009 12:06 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Caminante wrote: I wish I had laid down on the floor during the litany for ordinations because for me it is symbolic of the total surrender to the Holy Spirit and yes the kenosis to God (though one is not trying to be Christ!).

Yes! That's it for me, too ... though I've never been and won't be through an ordination. But the physical gesture spoke to me of total surrender ... and a surrender that was carried on gales of prayer.

But consider the source: I'm one who always opts to kneel (if at all possible) in the 2nd part of the Eucharist prayer. I believe something profoundly holy is going on, and I kneel in awe and reverence. For me, that's not assuming the position of a "wretch," but an outward and visible sign of my awe and reverence in the presence of God. For me -- with my tendencies toward hubris -- it is a good thing to kneel in the presence of the divine, to be mindful of my "creatureliness."

7/01/2009 12:14 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Small world, Susan! Yes, Mark was there and wonderful.

When I can find pix of Sunday's "Mass on the Grass," you'll see even more pix of Mark serving with the Bishop.

7/01/2009 12:16 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, JCF, she's single. And isn't she lovely?

I must have missed the prostration discussion at OCICBW. I hear what you're saying: "prostration works best when the ordaining bishop is facing the altar, not w/ the ordinand at their feet. In other words, Someone is worthy of prostrate worship, and it ain't the bishop!" But when I've seen this done at our ordinations over the last few years, it's felt quite clear that the ordinand is falling into the arms of God -- not reverencing the bishop.

7/01/2009 12:20 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

In the OCICBW discussion the pix was of John David Schofield sitting in all his lace and pomp - with the ordinand laid out before him.

7/01/2009 9:40 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for filling me in, Ann. Of course, there are many comments I could make about the image of Schofield in his man-lace with an of-course-male! ordinand lying prostrate before him. But I am going to forbear.

7/01/2009 8:35 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kaeton said...

One of the most powerful moments of my ordination - besides the litany - was when the bishop anointed my hands with holy oil.

At the end of the service, before the 'recessional', he scooted me back to the altar rail, knelt before me, and asked to be the first one I blessed.

I was speechless (if you can imagine that). After I gave my bishop my blessing, he then took my hands in his, palms up, and then kissed the hands he had blessed.

I still get verklempt just remembering it and retelling the story.

7/02/2009 8:46 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Elizabeth, I apologize for missing your comment last week.

What a powerful experience that must have been! I love the mutuality of it.

7/06/2009 9:05 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

To Elizabeth Kaeton: In the Roman Church "back then" (1960's), each person blessed by a newly ordained priest kissed the priest's palms. You remembrance of the bishop kissing your palms is a wonderful memory. Peace. Frank

7/04/2010 2:55 PM  

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