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Open Features: An Ancient Order

Carmen Fitzgerald describes the ceremony which admitted a young man to the ancient order of Melchisidech.

Around one thousand people assembled for the occasion. The primary team were fully clad in distinctive garb; white the prevalent colour. It was Australian Rules grand final weekend in Victoria 26 September 2008.

The weather was the warmest since winter ended and spring began. Everyone around the streets of town wore shorts and light shirts. People dressed a little more formally as they made their way to the gathering place.

One and all were in great voice, their greetings to each other warm and sincere. Some arrived around 5 pm for the run through. They wore morning suits and were robed with a white sash as they received their directives.

Parking was at a premium and the old saying about a worm being early and getting the best parking place, rang true for those who made their appearance closer to 7 pm than 5 pm. Tempers were conspicuous by their absence as space for their mode of transport was obtained, in some cases, three, four and five blocks away.

People flocked through the doors, ushers carrying out their instructions. Booklets were shared around and cards bearing an illustration and ancient words were given to everyone who came together for the grand occasion.

Buses carried supporters from all points of the compass. Some travelled over three hours to sustain the main player. Welcome refreshments greeted weary travellers. Everything was in readiness. The clock ticked sedately to 7.30 pm.

Music heralded the long and solemn procession. White robed youngsters bearing candles preceded the primary team. A notable variance to the clothing of the principal team was a crimson clad, staff-bearing gentleman, a mitre atop his dome.

They negotiated the long aisle and the celebrations began. A white robed youth left the key group and took his place in the front row; arms reached out to encompass him. The music swelled then calmed. The mitre was removed from the crimson-clad one as he began to speak. His words were welcoming and encouraging.

People came forward from the gathered onlookers and took a temporary place amongst the key team. From this vantage point, ancient words were read. This proclamation incited sung responses from the congregation.

The youth was summoned and presented to the crimson-clad elder. Questions were asked, responses given and a mentor spoke in favour of the youth. Responses were deemed appropriate and the youth positioned himself at the feet of the assembly.

The followers were silent, graceful music filled the air, prayerfulness pervaded. The prostrate one arose and stood, head bowed, eyes closed as one by one the primary team filed past him, hands resting reverently on his stooped head.

A man and a woman came forward from the ranks and robed the youth in a flowing white gown, an icon of wheat and crossed wood visible athwart the rear. The choir sang, a euphonium heralded the occasion accompanied by the pipe organ. The youth took his place among the primary team, arms reached out in embrace.

He joined the ranks of the ancient order of Melchisidech.

A great ovation resounded throughout the Sacred Heart Cathedral, the rafters trembled at the vibration and the interior and exterior lights shone brighter.

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