The Solemn Pontifical Mass was celebrated by Bishop Meeking, assisted by numerous altar servers and ministers (including Deacon & Subdeacon), and featured chant and sacred music throughout. Bishop Meeking spoke about the essence of the priest as being Christ, as he acts in persona Christi (in the person of Christ). Holy Orders is therefore not an achievement, but grace that is given to the ordained, through which Christ Himself acts on the souls the priest encounters.
Following reflection on the priesthood from St. Alphonsus was offered in the programme:
“Divine,” says St. Cyril of Alexandria, “are the offices confided to priests.” The entire Church cannot give to God as much honor, nor obtain so many graces, as a single priest by celebrating a single Mass; for the greatest honor that the whole Church without priests could give to God would consist in offering to Him in sacrifice the lives of all men. By a single Mass, he gives greater honor to God than all the Angels and Saints, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, have given or shall give to Him; for their worship cannot be of infinite value, like that which the priest celebrating on the altar offers to God.
But our wonder should be far greater when we find that in obedience to the words of his priests—–HOC EST CORPUS MEUM—–God Himself descends on the altar, that He comes wherever they call Him, and as often as they call Him, and places Himself in their hands, even though they should be His enemies. And after having come, He remains, entirely at their disposal; they move Him as they please, from one place to another; they may, if they wish, shut Him up in the tabernacle, or expose Him on the altar, or carry Him outside the church; they may, if they choose, eat His flesh and give Him for the food of others.
And God Himself is obliged to abide by the judgment of His priests, and either not to pardon or to pardon, according as they refuse or give absolution, provided the penitent is capable of it. Were the Redeemer to descend into a church, and sit in a confessional to administer the Sacrament of Penance, and a priest to sit in another confessional, Jesus would say over each penitent, “Ego te absolvo,” the priest would likewise say over each of his penitents, “Ego te absolvo,” and the penitents of each would be equally absolved.
St. Bernardine of Sienna has written: “Holy Virgin, excuse me, for I speak not against thee: the Lord has raised the priesthood above thee.” The Saint assigns the reason of the superiority of the priesthood over Mary; she conceived Jesus Christ only once; but by consecrating the Eucharist, the priest, as it were, conceives Him as often as he wishes, so that if the person of the Redeemer had not as yet been in the world, the priest, by pronouncing the words of consecration, would produce this great person of a Man-God. “O wonderful dignity of the priests,” cries out St. Augustine; “in their hands, as in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, the Son of God becomes incarnate.”
The priest must labor during his whole life, and with his whole strength, not to acquire riches, honors, and worldly goods, but to inspire all with the love of God. The business, then, of every priest is to attend, not to the things of the world, but to the things of God: He is ordained in the things thai appertain to God. Hence St. Silvester ordained that for ecclesiastics the days of the week should be called Feriæ, or vacant or free days; and he says: “It is every day that the priest, free from earthly occupations, should occupy himself entirely with God.” By this he meant that we, who are ordained priests, should seek nothing but God and the salvation of souls. St. Antonine says that the meaning of “sacerdos” (priest) is “sacra docens”, one that teaches sacred things. And Honorius of Autun says that “presbyter” signifies “præbens iter”, one that shows the way.
Taken from: The Dignities and Duties of the Priest by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
Update: Music recorded at the Ordination Liturgy has been posted. Have a listen!