Remember being asked if you remember someone’s anniversary or birthday? There is some truth to it. Often, we remember the birthdays and anniversaries of friends, loved ones, and our own. Yet, we have taken special anniversaries for granted.
A wise priest once shared advice to remember certain dates. To be exact, the dates we received the sacraments of initiation or the day we came into full communion with the Catholic Church. For clergy, they will recall the day of their ordinations, and for religious the day of the profession of their final vows.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism” (1277). This is the day that many devout Catholics should remember because it is the day that we are born into the church. The day I was born into the church was March 11th, 1990. It happened to be my paternal grandfather’s birthday.
The Eucharist, as the catechism recalls, “is the heart and the summit of the Church's life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once and for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice, he pours out the graces of salvation on his body, which is the Church.” What was the day you received Jesus like? For me, it was a hot day at around 90 degrees on May 7th, 2000, in Philadelphia (in case anyone was going to assume Florida). I was one of 23 children to receive Jesus for the first time.
The Catechism proclaims that confirmation, “[the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence, they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.’” (1285).
The sacrament calls us to a life of holiness and obedience to the will of God. In this sacrament in the Latin rite, we choose a name that has some association to either our roots, a saint we can relate to, or a potential career path.
My confirmation date is March 3rd, 2002. I was confirmed by the late Auxiliary Bishop Robert Maginnis of Philadelphia. I chose St. Patrick as my confirmation saint because of my Irish roots. It came down to him and one of the St. John saints. For those who will have to complete it later in life through RCIA, they will recall the Sunday after Easter or often during Pentecost.
Converts to the faith will likely recall a date when they received all sacraments during the Easter Vigil. During that evening, they receive all three sacraments of initiation. For those who will be received in full communion on Easter Sunday will remember the day they receive Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
Okay, Fathers, let’s talk about the big anniversary date to remember. Priests always recall the day they were ordained to be a priest.
Attend a priestly ordination. It is so moving. I’ve been to one for a high school friend.
Yes, bishops have an anniversary. It is the day they are elevated as an auxiliary bishop. In addition, some would move on to lead a diocese. When an archdiocese has a vacancy to be filled due to an archbishop’s resignation at 75 (mandatory age) or other mitigating factor or death, the curia, and pope review candidates who can take over.
Like priests, Permanent deacons also recall the day that they were ordained to be deacons. Deacons are called to be servants to the church by preaching the word and serving in the ministries of the church.
Some deacons that I’ve gotten to know over the years come from different backgrounds that vary from business, construction, education, and even other professions. At the same time, they soon receive the calling to serve God. Some have families. Others were never married or widowed.
For the religious communities, the brothers and sisters will celebrate the day when they profess their final vows to be a part of the religious order. This is called perpetual or final profession. In other words, these men and women in a religious community promise to be a part of it until their earthly pilgrimage is over. This happens anytime between three to nine years following temporary vows.
So, what are your anniversaries? Remember them. Celebrate them? Recite the vows you first professed. Live out the call of the vocation you said “yes” to. Parishioners, be sure to remember your priest and deacon on the anniversary of their ordinations