ABU GOSH – On August 6, 2017, the Feast of the Transfiguration, Brother Brice, a monk of the Abbey of St. Mary of the Resurrection, was ordained a priest by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. It was a day of great spiritual joy.
The Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, in the middle of summer, sometimes passes by a bit unnoticed in our parishes. The community of the Olivetan Benedictine brothers, located in Abu Gosh for more than forty years, decided otherwise this year by choosing the day to celebrate the priestly ordination of Brother Brice.
For the monk, ordained to the deaconate on February 2, the Transfiguration gives a special meaning to the priestly ministry: “I love the feast of the Transfiguration. Celebrating the manifestation of the glory of Jesus, it is also, and this is a less well-known aspect, the celebration of the mystery of our baptismal vocation that is a way of transfiguration of our being, our life. If this dimension of the feast is little emphasized, it is because the focus of our gaze on the glory of Christ can lead us to devalue our humanity. This is why Jesus did not answer the disciples’ request to erect three tents to perpetuate their experience, at the risk of placing them in a disembodied spiritual state. The essence of the priestly vocation is to help the baptized and all men to live their path of transfiguration.”
In his homily, Archbishop Pizzaballa recalled the Transfiguration as an extraordinary episode in the mainly human life of Jesus. By becoming a priest, and by celebrating the Eucharist, Brother Brice will “enable all in his community to experience this Transfiguration”. And much more, being fully priest, he is called to “be fully witness. Not as a witness attending the event of the Transfiguration but as one who experiences it.”
The celebration in the purest Benedictine tradition where monks and nuns alternately sing the Gregorian chants brought together many friends, priests, religious and faithful. At the summit of the Eucharistic Liturgy, the consecration of the sacred species was a particularly moving moment for Brother Brice: “I then became aware that from now on I was part of the community of witnesses of the last supper of Christ, of those who collected the last words of our Lord addressed to his closest friends!
“It is the honor and joy of the priest to be so closely associated with the life and mission of the twelve apostles and to testify in their witness to what happened in the intimacy of the Upper Room. This is only a first awareness of my identity as a priest, other stages will follow, all equally exciting; I feel it! But to testify with the twelve to what has been heard and seen in the Upper Room seems to me to be the fundamental experience of the priestly life.”
At the moment of giving thanks, Father Abbot Charles Galichet paid tribute to the monk’s parents who came especially from France, as well as to Monsignor Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio in Israel, who attended the occasion, and who will soon leave office
Before leaving the beautiful Crusader Church, so famous for its frescoes, the faithful knelt before Brother Brice to receive from his hands, on this very special day, a special blessing.