Yesterday, Felix, a special touch was felt by you as a number of us surrounded you and placed our hands on your head. If you have a recollection of someone pressing your ear, that was me! That moment of ordination was not a kind of mysterious masonic initiation ceremony but an incorporation in an apostolic calling that, wonderfully, takes us back to the very times of the Lord.
Just over fifty years ago, the great Austin Farrer, surely one of the greatest Anglican theologians of the 20th century, preached at the Ordination of a priest and used these words:
”˜Here before you is a new made priest; and what does he do? What place does he hold in the mighty purposes of God? The answer is before you. He is not special in himself, he is special because the sacraments are special. Apples don’t drop from the sky, they grow on apple trees. And sacraments don’t hurtle down here, they grow on the great planting tree of the Apostles’ ministry; the tree planted by Christ when he called twelve men and made them his ambassadors; a tree which has grown and spread and thrown its arms out through history. So, a priest is a living stem, bearing sacraments as its fruit, to give you the body and blood of Christ. And that’s not all, the man who bears the sacrament is sacramental himself. He is, one might almost say, a walking sacrament’.