Our website is made possible by displaying online ads to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our site.

Going up to the altar of God

First slide

"I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy" (Ps 43:4).

The discernment of the vocation to the priesthood is a journey toward the altar of the Lord. Every year of theology, the seminarian takes one step closer to the priesthood and the church responds by calling him to a new ministry.  Last month, I received, along with my 38 classmates, the ministry of acolyte at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception of the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

The principal celebrant of the Mass of Installation was Dominican Archbishop Augustine Di Noia from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. During the homily, he told us that the step we were about to take was an invitation to live out what the prayer for the institution for this ministry states: "Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and his Church."

For those who serve at the altar of the Lord, the call to holiness has a specific and concrete pursuit. In the "Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priest" of the Second Vatican Council, we read that the principal source for the sanctification of priestly life flows from the celebration of the Eucharist. The council states that the Eucharist, "stands as the root and center of the whole life of a priest.” As a newly instituted acolyte, I can assist the priest at Mass more closely than before, which encourages me to increasingly make my life "worthy of the service at the table of the Lord and his Church," beginning at this precise moment of my formation. In other words, the calling to holiness must begin "right now," in the midst of our daily activities, and it must not be left for later.

The same can be said for any vocation. We must strive for holiness each day of our lives. The strength that we need to walk the way towards holiness is found "at the altar of the Lord" during the celebration of the Eucharist. At this altar is where the Lord feeds us with his body and blood.

Portillo, who is from St. John the Beloved Church in McLean, is in his second year of theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020