Ordination of Three Deacons of the Prelature in the Church of St. Josemaría, Rome (March 7, 2015)
1. The texts of the Mass are very eloquent and moving, speaking to us of divine mercy. In the collect prayer we asked God: “Look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up mercy.”
This is a recurrent theme during this liturgical period. The Church invites us to follow Christ on his last trip to Jerusalem, to carry out the sacrifice of our salvation: that of all humanity and of each one of us. Therefore it is important that we renew every day our desire for conversion, which needs to be shown in insistent prayer, in assiduous mortification, in the practice of works of charity. Thus we will respond, to the extent of our strength, but with generosity, to divine mercy.
The greatest manifestation of God’s mercy is the incarnation of Jesus Christ and his death on the Cross for our salvation. “God so loved the world,” St. John tells us, “that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.” And St. Paul, in the second reading, says: “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called . . . Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Divine mercy fills the whole earth. Not only did God send his Son to save us through his sacrifice on Calvary and glorious resurrection, but he has wanted this grace to be always present, until the end of time. Therefore he has left us his Word in the Gospel and entrusted to the Church his sacraments, which we should receive frequently. It is only natural, then, that at every moment—but especially when we celebrate the Eucharist—we renew our gratitude and resolve to make better use of these sources of grace. Jesus was sent by the Father to converse with us, to speak with men and women, and he has great interest in our personal life.
2. Among the seven sacraments, Orders holds a unique position. Thanks to the sacred ministers, the Church is able to fulfill its mission fully. Today we thank God for the ordination as deacons of these brothers of ours. From this moment on, they will be sharers in Christ’s salvific mission in teaching the faith, in liturgical service, and in the service of charity. I would like to refer briefly to these offices.
In the first place, my dear future deacons, you will have to teach people the path of salvation marked out by the commandments of God’s law. The Lord’s ten words on Mount Sinai are addressed to all men and women, with no exception. They were inscribed by God himself in human nature right from the creation of our first parents. Nevertheless, so that they not be forgotten, God also wanted them to be recorded in Holy Scripture. But we have to give witness to them with our daily conduct, so that people see Jesus when they look at us.
Let us not forget that the commandments are not a law imposed from without, foreign to our deepest impulses and desires; on the contrary, they fully accord with our human nature. God has created us for love, so that we might attain eternal happiness, and this is our path: there is no other. We can always count on God’s help. As St. Augustine stated: “God does not command impossible things; but, in commanding, he admonishes us both to do what you can, and to seek his grace to do what you cannot do.”
Our Lord’s yoke is not heavy when it is accepted with love. As we exclaimed in the responsorial Psalm: “The Law of the Lord is perfect; refreshing the soul . . . The precepts of the Lord are right, refreshing the heart. The command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye.”
3. I would like to add some words about the other offices that await you. By your diaconal ordination, you become co-workers of the bishop and priests in the liturgical service. Not only because you can administer Holy Communion to your brothers and sisters, but because it is your responsibility to put special care and affection into everything referring to divine worship. Yes, Jesus Christ awaits you! Treat him with great refinement.
Finally, in what refers to the service of charity, in close union with your bishop, remember that by serving Christ in your fellow men with humility and patience, you should guide your brothers and sisters “to that King for whom to serve is to reign.” If you have to stand out in anything, may it be in your spirit of service. St. Josemaría taught us that “we have to make ourselves a carpet so that others may tread softly.” This is not just a nice phrase. He went on to insist that it has to be a reality in the life of every Christian. He also taught us that “charity does not consist so much in ‘giving’ as in ‘understanding’.” Let us strive to do so each day.
I congratulate the relatives and friends of the new deacons. I ask you to keep praying for them and for all sacred ministers, from the Pope down to the last deacon recently ordained. Also pray for me so that each day I may be the good and faithful servant that our Lord wants. And let us also beseech our Lord to raise up many vocations to the priesthood.
To conclude, let us entrust our petitions to our Lady, in this Marian year that we are observing in Opus Dei. We place under Mary’s protection especially all families, fundamental building blocks of society, and in a special way Christian families, who are called to be true domestic churches.
Praised be Jesus Christ!