On Tuesday night, in Houston, Texas, at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, on the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (Candlemas), I attended the Episcopal Ordination of my long time college friend, Steven J. Lopes. I met Bishop Lopes nearly 22 years ago when I transferred into the Saint Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco in the Fall of 1994.
Although I have been to Ordinations to the Priesthood, this was my first Episcopal Ordination, and it couldn’t have been any better, especially since it was for someone I personally know. It’s very difficult to explain to you through this limited space the pageantry, pomp, beauty, and sacredness that was the Episcopal Ordination Mass of Bishop Steven J. Lopes. The sheer excitement that began during the day at the hotel and then reaching its peak during the Mass is still penetrating my heart and mind. I think the 24 hours I spent in Houston for this occasion will be with me over the next few weeks as I continue to share it with parishioners at my parish as well as with friends who were unable to attend.
Not to make light of the ordination by any means, but as we were making our way to the cathedral from the hotel, which was a very short bus ride, I said to my three other friends, one a Benedictine brother and one a religious sister, “Between the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious, and so many Lay Faithful, tonight is like Catholic Candy Land.”
There are many things that stood out for me during the course of the three-hour Episcopal Ordination, but if I had to narrow it down to three things, it would be the Liturgy itself, the beautiful sacred music, and the Rite of Ordination of a Bishop. The Mass resembled the structure of the Roman Liturgy, but with some nuances from the Anglican tradition. It was very much a “high mass” which I have come to enjoy as I learn more about the liturgy. The Prayer of Humble Access before Holy Communion and the Prayer of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion, both said by everyone who received Our Lord in the Eucharist, reminded me of the Eastern liturgies I have been to in the past. Both prayers reflect the beauty of the Church’s sacramental theology.
The second aspect of the Mass was the intense and most profound sacred music. I am in my early 40’s, which means I grew up with mundane liturgical music that often contradicted Catholic theology in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Although I have been exposed to beautiful sacred music since, the music at the ordination was beyond superb and spiritually elevated us right into heaven and brought heaven down to us. The choir was composed of three individual choirs – the choir from Our Lady of Walsingham Parish (now the Cathedral), the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Choir and the Archdiocesan Choir. If you watch the remarks from the Bishop here, you will get a taste of what the choir brought to the liturgy.
The third and final aspect of the Mass that I enjoyed was the Rite of Ordination of a Bishop. This rite began with the Principal Consecrator, His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and concluded with Bishop Steven J. Lopes taking the reigns from him and finishing the liturgy. The Rite of Ordination of a Bishop had numerous parts. They are:
- Veni Creator Spiritus (Come, Holy Ghost)
- Presentation of the Bishop-Elect
- Reading of the Apostolic Letter (official document from Pope Francis)
- Assent of the People (all responded with – Thanks be to God)
- Examination of the Candidate (asked numerous questions regarding his episcopal ordination)
- Invitation to Prayer (all pray for Bishop-elect)
- Litany of Supplication (Litany of the Saints)
- Laying On of Hands
- Prayer of Consecration (Book of the Gospels held above the head of Bishop-elect) and Prayer of Ordination recited (Calling down of the Holy Spirit)
- Anointing of the Bishop’s Head (with Oil)
- Presentation of the Book of the Gospels (Teaching is a duty of the Bishop; other two duties – Sanctify and Govern).
- Investiture with Ring, Mitre, and Pastoral Staff
- Seating of the Bishop and Kiss of Peace (from this moment Bishop Lopes became the primary presider of the Liturgy).
There is so much I could say about each part, however, this blog post would end up being 2500 plus words in length and far too long for a reasonable post. If you ever get the chance to attend an Episcopal Ordination, my suggestion is – take it! It’s by far one of the most amazing liturgies I have experienced. With liturgies such as this one, it makes me very glad and blessed to be a Catholic.
As I did in my blog post back in November, I implore that you pray for Bishop Steven J. Lopes. Please pray three Hail Mary’s through the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham as he begins his new ministry as Shepherd of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
Our Lady of Walsingham…Pray for Us.
This blog post is dedicated to the Bishop himself, Steven J. Lopes. Thank you for your friendship, guidance, and overall support these many years. Unfortunately, I never made it to Rome while you were there. I pray that you will be a good Shepherd to your flock.