At the priestly ordination of two faithful of the Prelature, Shrine of Torreciudad, Spain (September 6, 2009)
At the priestly ordination of two deacons of the Prelature
1. My dear ordinands, my dear brothers in the priesthood, my dear brothers and sisters.
The Church raises up many prayers in praise of the Most Blessed Trinity. One of these, called the Trisagium Angelicum, repeats frequently these words: Tibi laus, tibi gloria, tibi gratiarum actio in saecula sempiterna, o Beata Trinitas. To you, O Blessed Trinity, be all praise, all glory, all thanksgiving. We should always direct our praise, and today in a special way, to the Most Holy Trinity, whose ordinary and extraordinary providence constantly watches over us. We live and we breathe, we are able to work and to love, only because of the assistance, the nearness of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, our triune God. This is a mystery that, although it exceeds the grasp of our intellect, fills us with such great consolation because we know we are sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, guided by the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit.
I was telling you that today is a very appropriate day, in seeking out God’s presence, to invoke the Trinity and give thanks for all the gifts we have received; specifically for the gift of the priesthood for these two brothers of ours. In the Church, as Christ has established it, we all have to be people who pray, people who know that their life can become an interrupted dialogue with God because He, our triune God, never ceases to look upon us. But also today, in the midst of the Year for Priests that we are living at the desire of Benedict XVI, it is very fitting that a constant prayer for priests be raised up in the whole Church.
Let us begin with the Supreme Shepherd. Our prayer for the Pope should be a prayer filled with affection, a prayer of union and support for all his untiring work. How can we fail to recall his frequent request at the beginning of his Pontificate, when in his humility he begged us, with his arms outstretched, not to leave him alone, saying: pray for me, pray for me? It is good for us to consider whether each day we are truly aware of the need to pray for the Roman Pontiff, for this Supreme Shepherd who—we can be absolutely sure—is accompanying each and every one of us in all his pastoral activity.
We should also pray for all the bishops, the Apostles’ successors, asking that they be faithful followers of Jesus Christ and act constantly in our Lord’s name, with the mandate he gave to the first Twelve: preach to the people with your life, not only with your words but with your life, in my Name. It is logical that we pause today to pray for the bishop of this diocese, so that he notice the help he is being given by those who today find themselves in this diocese of Barbastro, which is under his jurisdiction.
I ask you to pray devoutly for all priests. There is a custom in many Latin American countries that it would be good for us to incorporate into our daily prayer. In these places, after Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament, when praying the aspirations of reparation for offenses against God, the people repeat devoutly, as an urgent need of their soul, the following invocation: “Lord, give us holy priests.” They repeat this three times. It is true that the one who calls is God; but it is also certain that if the People of God unite in beseeching the Blessed Trinity to send us holy priests, we will exert influence on the divine will so that there will be no lack of men who decide to undertake this path and who want to act constantly with the only priesthood that exists, the priesthood of Christ.
And we need to pray for the whole People of God, for all Christians, knowing that all of the faithful, both men and women, have a priestly soul, that we participate—from the fact of being baptized—in the one priesthood of Christ. This common priesthood has to be, for all of you, a spur to grow in your own interior life, and also to foster the spirit of penance so proper to people who love. There is no love without sacrifice. We see this even in human love: where sacrifice is absent, true love, authentic love is absent. You have to foster also a concern for all souls, reaching the whole world with your lives: it’s within our reach! I am referring now specifically to the men and women of the People of God who, by their prayer, can and should make themselves present in all parts of the world, imploring God’s help for those who are our brothers and sisters; and also that those who don’t know Christ may come to know him.
2. Today, I repeat, is a very special day. We are in the Year for Priests, under the protection of the Holy Curé of Ars, a priest who worked in an insignificant village in France. What was Ars in comparison with the size of Europe? What was Ars in comparison with the continents of the world? A tiny corner. And, nevertheless, the life of that holy priest, whom St. Josemaría Escrivá had such great veneration for, was an “ignition point” for the whole world. From his confessional—let us not fail to foster the practice of confession in our own life and in the lives of our friends—from his confessional, from his altar, with the piety of a person who loves, he was placing God at the summit of all the world’s realities. For this he was named, with full right, the patron of confessors.
Today is a day of celebration for the whole Church, with the ordination of these brothers of ours. It is an ideal day for us to consider one of the notes that defines the Church and that we confess in the Creed: unity. We should feel ourselves brothers and sisters of all the people in the world; not only in spirit, but also in our daily life. We can’t allow that phrase from the Creed, et unam, sanctum, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam, to remain only words for us.
My sisters and brothers, let us give more insistence to our prayer, more force to what we are doing, realizing that by our prayer we can sustain the Church. Let us go, I insist, also to the Curé of Ars, to St. Jean Marie Vianney, so that many more people throughout the world may take advantage of the marvelous sacrament of Penance, which opens for us the doors to the life of grace and increases it in us, when we receive it well-disposed, with the desire to amend even our smallest faults.
3. Now I am addressing you, my dear ordinands. I remind you of the words I will speak when you are handed the paten with the host, and the chalice with the wine. I will tell you that you have to incorporate into your life—that all of us priests have to incorporate into our daily lives—what we carry out on the altar: imitare quod tractabis, imitate what you celebrate.
I remember very well the many times that St. Josemaría, the founder of Opus Dei, in his constant prayer, would look at his hands with real wonder and say out loud, or in his heart to God: “With these hands I can touch God, I can give God to others!” This led him to more prayer, to more expiation, to a greater joy, because there is no greater happiness than that of having Christ with us and so close to us.
Thus, my sons who are being ordained, may you imitate what you will carry out, may you strive to conform your life to Christ’s ministry on the Cross. It is not out of selfishness that we priests pray for our personal holiness, because only if we seek God with rectitude of intention, and exclusively Him, will we give him with naturalness and urgency to all souls.
I will read for you some words of St. Josemaría: “This is the source of the priest’s incomparable dignity. It is a greatness which is on loan: it is completely compatible with my own littleness. I pray to God our Lord to give all of us priests the grace to perform holy things in a holy way, to reflect in every aspect of our lives the wonders of the greatness of God.”
Let us pray for all priests: may we not be an obstacle to God’s grace, which the Holy Spirit wants to send to souls through our faithful correspondence.
4. My sons who are being ordained, be great lovers of the Holy Mass, of the sacrament of Confession, and of preaching. Go every day to the teacher that we have had here on earth; first to Jesus, of course; but our Lord also wants us to follow the footsteps of St. Josemaría, so that he might spur us to have a love for and closeness to the Blessed Trinity that imbues all our daily activity and that of all priests.
Don’t forget that our life, everyone’s life, has to be liturgical. The prayers and readings that we hear at Mass can’t just be words that pass us by, like leaves borne by the wind. In today’s first reading we are reminded: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. We have all been chosen by God, and we priests have been chosen from all eternity to be priests of Christ. So we should all remember, but specifically the priests, the divine election that has made us other Christs, Christ himself at specific moments.
I want to cite some other marvelous words of Opus Dei’s founder: “Here we have the priest’s identity: he is a direct and daily instrument of the saving grace which Christ has won for us. If you grasp this, if you meditate on it in the active silence of prayer, how could you ever think of the priesthood in terms of renunciation? It is a gain, an incalculable gain.” Yes, it is true. All Christians, through their priestly soul, and all priests, through the sacrament of Holy Orders that we have received, are lovers of the Source of love. It is not a renunciation; quite the opposite: it is entering more deeply into intimacy with God.
In the second reading, St. Paul recalls that we have to be—all of us, but specifically the priests—humble, kind, understanding, bearing the burdens of one another with charity. for to me to live is Christ. All of us should have the clear realization that, by the Baptism that we have received, people should recognize in our conduct the Christ who must inform all our actions.
Finally, in the Gospel, we heard words about the Good Shepherd. We know perfectly well that the good shepherd, like a good father, or a good mother, gives his life for his sheep. For all of them, without any distinctions! A priest is characterized by generous, joyful, constant service to all souls, so as to bring them closer to God. Also in moments of tiredness or greater personal struggle.
I cannot fail to congratulate the grandparents, parents, and brothers and sisters of these two new priests. May God bless you! Our Lord has passed by your families telling you once more in a very special way that he loves you and counts on you. Your work is not finished. You have to help them every day so that they will be priests who live with Christ at every moment. And, along with my congratulations, comes the request that you pray for Opus Dei, so that we can serve the Church as the Church wishes to be served.
I end by going to the intercession of the Mother of priests. We are all children of Mary, because our Lord gave her to us as our Mother at that crucial and solemn moment of Calvary. He told us, through St. John: Behold, your mother. So I ask that you get to know her well, that we all do so—but specifically you two—that you draw much closer to her. St. Josemaría urged us to call out to her: “Mother! Call her again and again. She is listening, she sees you in danger perhaps, and with her Son’s grace she, your holy Mother Mary, offers you the refuge of her arms, the tenderness of her embrace. Call her, and you will find yourself with added strength for the new struggle.” Amen.