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Indy, Why Does the Floor Move?

Earlier today, during the ordination of The Rev. Andrew D'Angio White to the priesthood, I greeted my fellow candidates for Holy Orders (not yet official for me from my bishop) at the passing of the Peace, and excitedly said, "We're Next!"  It won't be until June, but my friend Jo, classmate Elizabeth and others from the Diocese of Virginia all look forward to graduation from Virginia Theological Seminary or the Yale Divinity School, and our subsequent ordination ~ God Willing, and the people consenting, of course ~ as deacons in the Episcopal Church.  Later, ordination to the priesthood is slated for December, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.  To be priested means you have a call to minister someplace.

To say I witness ordinations through a different lens these days is more than a slight exaggeration.  Though, as friends have gone on to be ordained, first as deacons, and later as priests, Facebook has been regularly dotted with the phrase, "Contemplating Ontological Change."  There have been interesting photos posted, with special clothes set aside, including colorful socks (thank you, Andrew+).  But what is this 'ontological change' people mention?  Today was certainly an example where the Holy Spirit moved and human emotions flowed.  It was truly beautiful and quite moving!  

In the Catechism, The Outline of the Faith (in the Book of Common Prayer, pgs 860-861), it states that "Ordination is the rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being made bishops, priests, and deacons, through prayer and the laying on of hands by bishops."  Ordination seems to be the recognition and culmination of a process which has been underway for some time in a person's life.  Whether a call to ordained ministry comes early or later in life, the process of growth involves listening to both God and God's people, listening for the still small voice and the obvious call-out to ministry.  This is a dialogue which continues throughout the 'No's" and after the eventual 'Yes.'  Discernment is an on-going, never-ending process. 

Someone once said, "if you're not a priest the day before ordination, you won't be one the day after."  I get that.  I do, and in increasing ways, I am beginning to flex some priestly wings.  But ontological change?  I don't know about that.  Some people trace this back to St. Thomas Aquinas.  God has called me to a new aspect of ministry.  From something in which I felt quite comfortable to something which has offered me both times of comfort and discomfort all along the way since I said 'yes' to God.  "Only by God's Grace" will I be able to offer a pastoral presence with any priestly authority.  I have come to understand that It is the people who 'ordain you at the door.'   I'll have to do more work on this.  Because most people I know well who are clergy are still 'people first.'  Put another way, "priests are people, too!"  So there is hope for me.