At the priestly ordination of faithful of the Prelature at the Shrine of Torreciudad, Spain (September 6, 2015)
My dear sons who are about to be ordained,
my dear sisters and brothers:
Today is a day of deep and special gratitude to heaven for the priestly ordination of these three deacons, incardinated in the Prelature of Opus Dei. From the first moment of the celebration we have been accompanied by the sincere joy of the Entrance Antiphon, for the great gift that the Trinity is making to the Church today. Thanks be to God, as St. Josemaría wished, this ordination is part of an uninterrupted line going back to 1944. This reality invites us to pray for the new priests and for all the priests in the world, so that each of them identifies himself with the “good shepherd” Jesus speaks to us about with such great affection in the Gospel.
Good shepherds: that is what our Lord calls them and wishes them to be; and it is a call that brings with it the demand to behave with full and joyful fidelity to our Lord’s plans, based on prayer, on piety, on self- sacrifice, imitating Jesus. By his conduct, Jesus has shown us how a priest should live, and also all Christians since, in receiving baptism, we have all been made sharers in his royal priesthood. That is, since each of us, each man and woman has been joined to the one priesthood of Christ, we should feel the need to accompany very closely the divine Word, the beloved Son of the Heavenly Father, sent to this world of ours to save us, to speak with each of us in the different circumstances of our ordinary life, as the founder of Opus Dei so often and with such great gratitude told us.
Let us all—and very especially the three being ordained—make the resolution to be very prayerful. Remember that our Lord, to fulfill the mission received from his heavenly Father, spent time (we could even say continued) in prayer, even pernoctans in oratione (Lk 6:12), spending the night in prayer, because it’s very certain that our life, that of each one of us, is worth what our prayer life is worth.
And you three, my beloved sons, I ask particularly that you may love this spirit of prayer, both mental and vocal; and that you make a daily effort to attain on your part the response, the generosity that our Lord wants from his priests. St. Josemaría, referring to Jesus in the Tabernacle, urged us not to leave him alone, an invitation that we can also apply in all its depth to our daily piety. It is useful to meditate slowly on the words of the first reading: God chose us from all eternity, from before we were born, and we have to respond with refinement and loyalty, even though we are of such little worth.
The priesthood you are about to receive asks us, in following the Master’s footsteps, to learn to love sacrifice as generously as he did, who gave himself up to death, and death on the Cross, St. Paul tells us clearly. This has been brought home to us today with other words (words that moved our Father so deeply): “the love of Christ urges us on!” (2 Cor 5:14), Let us make Christ known with total faith, and also with generous mortification, with self-denial.
Today, many people seem frightened by the word “mortification,” as though it meant something sad and unattractive. Perhaps they forget that there is no true love, also in the exclusively human terrain, without sacrifice, without the decision to renounce one’s own ego in order to serve others with generosity and joy. They identify this word with great sacrifices or penances, which we also should not fear if our Lord asks them of us. And they fail to appreciate the little daily details of yielding to and serving others, of making the life of those around us more pleasant, and also of not imposing our likes or foibles of temperament on those we live with, etc. I ask you—and everyone else as well—that, like St. Josemaría, you may fall in love with the word “service,” so as to always be available for the needs of others.
And above all, my dear ordinands, remember that from now on you are going to be Christ himself, especially in the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. Let us marvel at this great mercy of God, who wishes to make use of us to make present such great mysteries. Take loving care of the Holy Mass, day after day, and consider seriously that you are acting in persona Christi. He places himself at the disposition of your will, of your piety, of your love, of your words at the moment of the Eucharistic celebration and especially at the transubstantiation. Be deeply in love with the Sacrifice of the Altar, striving to understand ever better, although we will never fully comprehend it, the love of Christ in giving himself to all humanity and to each person. Let us consider what the Gospel text has reminded us of: “I have called you friends . . . and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:9-17).
Also love very much sacramental Confession, going yourself to seek God’s forgiveness, to wash away your faults in the confessional. And always be prompt to provide that help whenever a soul asks you for it, at any time. It has been said—and it’s true—that the crisis this sacrament is now undergoing is due in good part to a crisis of the absence of confessors. Therefore, go every day to diligently impart God’s forgiveness. In doing so, show others mercy, understanding, giving encouragement and hope to the penitent, as Pope Francis recently said. Let us not reject anyone, guiding each person with sound doctrine, and giving the necessary formation. Be convinced that we are not wasting our time if we await souls with joy in the confessional.
Spread the word of God with depth and in an attractive way, drawing souls, each soul, towards sincere friendship with God the Father, with God the Son, and with God the Holy Spirit. Let us pray now and always for the Holy Father and his intentions, for all bishops and priests so that, fully dedicated to our ministry, we will know how to give Christian life to the society in which we live, in which we have to be deeply immersed. Let us pray for my brother the Bishop of Barbastro, asking our Lord that there be an abundant harvest of holiness in this beloved diocese.
And always place yourselves under the protection of our Lady, of our Lady of the Angels of Torreciudad, in memory of this day. Mary is the mother of the Eternal Priest and of all priests who share in the one priesthood of Christ. Lady of ours, so venerated in this shrine, help all of us to learn to love the Blessed Trinity as you did.
I wish to congratulate the parents, brothers and sisters, and relatives of the three people being ordained, with the petition that you pray for them every day.
I ask all of you to commend to our Lord the apostolic work of the faithful of the prelature of Opus Dei throughout the world, and to also sustain me with your prayers and affection.
Laus Deo Virginique Matri. May God bless us and his blessed Mother accompany us.