Monday, July 24, 2006

Ordination Prep

Get on your planes, Romans. The Empire awaits.

Happy Love Week to you and yours from the center of it all.

As you know by now, the festivities reach their peak in two days' time as Auxiliary Bishop-elect Daniel Thomas is ordained before the largest turnout of hierarchy these shores have seen for an episcopal ordination since another former resident of the Gianicolo was elevated five years minus three weeks ago.

(Hint: Justin Rigali was the ordaining prelate that day, too.)

While we await the commemorative photo of the new bishop in his dress reds -- and the tears I usually shed at seeing those for the first time -- Danny Thomas' episcopal arms have made their appearance.

Rendered in the silver and blue of the archdiocesan seal, it's a double cant on his name: Daniel, who "when [he] was found praying to the Lord... was thrown into a den of lions" and Thomas, who the Gospel of John referred to "as 'Thomas, called Didymus,' a Greek name meaning 'twin.'

"The 'twin' lions on the shield thus call to mind the apostle known as 'the Twin,'" saith the summary.

The absence of heraldic tributes to the Holy See where the 47 year-old prelate served for 15 years, the NAC where he lived for that time, to his mother and to his eminent mentor-patron are notable. However, in deference to the feast day of the ordination (a tribute to the ordinand's late mother) a relic of St Anne will be on display in the Cathedral-Basilica, and word is that flowers will be brought to it during the liturgy.

The motto, however, brings to mind the story of the morning when a bishop in liturgical vestments was approached by a friend who bowed deeply and exclaimed, "My Lord!"

The bishop responded by similarly bowing, exclaiming back, "And my God!"

If you expect to see anything of the kind here ever, good luck... just don't hold your breath.

Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Strafford, where Thomas has served as pastor since his November return to town, has purchased the silver gilt crozier the new bishop will receive at the Mass. As for the rest, it'll either be the gift of the Overbrook Class of 1985 or culled from the extensive Philadelphia patrimony of pontificalia (a sight which many of you would greet with -- what else? -- a serene and kindly gaze).

Fret not: given Thomas' wide ties and the usual custom of out-of-town prelates offering gifts of gold, amethyst and filigree to Philly's baby bishops, he'll be very well-set.

The pontificalia to be used on Wednesday will ostensibly be blessed at a Holy Hour for visiting clerics to be held tomorrow evening. A simultaneous Holy Hour will be offered at the Strafford church.