Diaconal Ordination of Faithful of the Prelature, Basilica of St. Eugene, Rome (October 31, 2015)
My dear sons who are about to be ordained as deacons;
Dear brothers and sisters:
1. With deep and sincere joy, we are going to celebrate a “feast of the Church,” which in this case is the diaconal ordination of 27 faithful of the Prelature of Opus Dei. The fact that it coincides with the solemnity of All Saints fills us with additional joy, and helps us to remember that all of us are called to holiness. The liturgy invites us to turn our eyes to Heaven, our definite home, where we can unite ourselves to the multitude of saints. The Virgin Mary, our mother, will help us in our daily battle to serve God better.
St. John refers with moving words to “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne . . . and crying out with a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev 7:9-10).
Let us also remember the many people we have known who have already left this world in God’s grace, and who help us to thank our Lord for his marvelous call to rejoice in his presence forever. They carry in their hands palm branches, symbols of victory. So let us stir up our hope that God is waiting for us, and loves us with his infinite providence while we are journeying here below, in order to unite us to his love for all eternity.
Our Lord himself, in the Gospel of today’s Mass, shows us the demands incumbent on a Christian: the beatitudes, treasures that each of us should put into practice in accord with the call received from him. They represent a very attractive program that all the baptized should follow, precisely because they are Christians.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted . . . Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:3-9). Let us not think that this requires a gigantic effort or leads to a sad life. Although it’s true that the struggle for sanctity surpasses our natural capacities, it’s also true that divine grace gives us the possibility and the strength to go forward. So we need to have recourse to the sources of supernatural life: taking part in the Holy Mass with the nourishment of the Eucharist, sacramental Confession, prayer.
Beyond any doubt the happiest men and women in the world, who aspire to attain the joy of being always with God, have been and continue to be Christians loyal to Jesus Christ.
2. Now I would like to address the new deacons. Just as the apostles chose seven men to assist them in their ministry, so now through the laying on of the bishop’s hands and the invocation of the Paraclete, our Lord (because he is the one who has chosen you) will imprint on you a new seal, the diaconal character, with the mission of serving the Church and all souls, like Christ himself who, being Lord of all mankind, freely made himself a servant of all (see Jn 13, 13-17). You who within a short time will be ordained deacons, and who later will become priests, are consecrated “to serve.” You “are not being ordained to give orders or to attract attention,” wrote St. Josemaría, “but rather to give yourselves to the service of all souls in a divine and continuous silence.”
The sacrament of Holy Orders confers on those who receive it, in different ways, the responsibility of being “the custodians and authoritative witnesses of the deposit of truth consigned to the Church, and likewise the ministers of charity. These are two aspects that go together. They must always be mindful of the inseparable nature of this twofold service, which in fact is only one: truth and love, revealed and given by the Lord Jesus. In this regard, their service is first and foremost a service of love: and the charity they live and foster is inseparable from the truth they preserve and pass on. Truth and love are the two faces of the same gift that comes from God and, thanks to the apostolic ministry, is safeguarded in the Church and handed down to us, to our present time!” Consider how marvelous are Christ’s words, which St. Josemaría so liked to savor: Euge serve bone et fidelis (Mt 25:23); well done, good and faithful servant. Here we see how lovingly God himself looks upon us every day, moment after moment.
With the Year of Mercy about to begin, I would like to remind you of this reality, both you who are being ordained and all of those present. “Mercy is the second name of Love,” it is the way in which the merciful face of God the Father has been manifested visibly to us in Jesus Christ. For there is no greater proof of love then giving one’s life for one’s brothers and sisters. And this is what our Lord has done on the wood of the Cross, and we have to follow in his footsteps.
In a few months time, you will be consecrated as priests. Then you will be ministers of divine mercy, strengthening souls with the Eucharist and the other sacraments—in a special way through the administration of the sacrament of Penance. And you will fortify them with the preaching of the divine word, working with the same sentiments as Jesus who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (see Phil 2:5-8). But starting right now, try to fulfill your duties with an abundance of mercy. By treating with supernatural and human refinement the people you meet on your path, you will come to see humanity as an inheritance that our Lord has placed in your hands.
The invitation to service, valid for all Christians, means “to a great extent caring for the vulnerable . . . Theirs are the suffering, fragile and downcast faces which Jesus tells us specifically to look at and which he asks us to love. With a love that takes shape in our actions and decisions.”
We are all invited to examine how we can serve our neighbors better, above all those who are closest to us, with specific deeds: always, and in a special way in the upcoming Year of Mercy.
3. I accompany with all my heart the families and friends of the new deacons. I remind all of you of the duty to pray for these brothers of ours and for all the Church’s ministers; above all, for our Holy Father Francis. Let us also pray that there be many priestly ordinations in the Church. I thank Cardinal Vallini, vicar of the Pope for the diocese of Rome, who has told me that he is praying for you and who expresses his gratitude for your decision to follow Christ so closely.
Before finishing, I recommend that you continue keeping very present the needs of families. A few days after the conclusion of the Synod, our prayer has to become more constant, more trusting, more persevering, so that the conclusions of this assembly may serve as a guide for a greater fidelity to the divine plan of salvation, which passes through this institution founded by God in creation.
Let us listen to the Pope’s suggestions, going better prepared to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. May all of us, like our Lady, on receiving Jesus bring him with us and make him known to those around us.
Praised be Jesus Christ.