At the Ordination of Deacons of the Prelature, St. Eugene's Basilica, Rome (November 8, 2014)

Most dear sons about to receive the diaconate,
Dear brothers and sisters:

Let us give thanks to God for the gift of these new deacons to his Church. We unite our gratitude to that which we raised up to God a little over a month ago, for the beatification of Bishop Álvaro del Portillo, the first successor of St. Josemaría and the first Prelate of Opus Dei. These thirty-two men will receive the sacrament of Holy Orders today following a long chain initiated by St. Josemaría in 1944, with Don Álvaro and two other faithful of the Work. By receiving the diaconate, and later the priesthood, they are ordained to serve the faithful of the Prelature and every person who draws close to their apostolic activity.

The opening prayer of the Mass invites us to ask God the Father that, in the school of Christ who became the servant of all, the new deacons may learn to serve their brothers and sisters and not to be served. The liturgical text expresses clearly what the Church expects from them, and from all of us, given that these words are directed also to the laity in accord with each one’s vocation and state: to be tireless in the gift of self, persevering in prayer, joyful and welcoming in service.[N]1/[N]

1. Let us consider these characteristics. Tireless in the gift of self. This can seem difficult, and it certainly is if we rely on ourselves. But our Lord has called us to follow him and grants us the grace needed to overcome this challenge. This is confirmed by the example of the prophet Jeremiah. When he laments that he is too young and lacking the conditions needed to fulfill his mission, the Lord responds: Say not, "I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak . . . See, I place my words in your mouth! [2]

Let us learn from our Lord: “Jesus’ whole life, his way of dealing with the poor, his actions, his integrity, his simple daily acts of generosity, and finally his complete self-giving, is precious and reveals the mystery of his divine life. Whenever we encounter this anew, we become convinced that it is exactly what others need, even though they may not recognize it . . . Sometimes we lose our enthusiasm for mission because we forget that the Gospel responds to our deepest needs, since we were created for what the Gospel offers us: friendship with Jesus and love of our brothers and sisters.” [3]

In the effort to bring the word of God to others, in the apostolate, no one will lack God’s help if we rely on his grace. And we can obtain grace abundantly by means of the sacraments and prayer.

2. This is the second recommendation of the opening prayer: to be persevering in prayer. It is not enough to pray from time to time, when we feel the need; we ought to desire that our prayer be ceaseless. With the help of God it is possible. As well as dedicating to God a daily time for personal prayer, let us strive – not only in word – to act in coherence with the demands of the Christian vocation: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. [4] Thus, even when it is not possible to speak with God because work obligations or sleep do not permit us, it is possible to pray at every moment, without words but with our heart set on God, as St. Josemaría wrote, borrowing an idea from St. Jerome.

You, dear sons and deacons, are going to be entrusted with a specific duty: to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the name of the Church. Enunciate the psalms, the readings, etc., digne, attente ac devote, with dignity, attention and piety, with your mind set on God and realizing, also in those moments, that you are servants of all souls.

3. To be joyful and welcoming in service. This is the final recommendation of the opening prayer. And it is logical that it be this way. St. Josemaría said that God has wanted the spirit of Opus Dei “in order to make serving God in the world lovable and cheerful.” [5] Recalling our Lord’s commandment and citing words of St. Paul, he said: “alter alterius onera portate, et sic adimplebitis legem Christi (Gal 6:2). Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfil the law of Christ . . . With love for God and love for your brothers, give yourselves in a service that passes unnoticed. And if you live like this, you will see how others will begin to live the same way, and you will be like a great bonfire that enkindles everything.” [6]

Today, as always, it is urgent that the message of love intrinsic to Christianity reach all parts in order that the mandatum novum, Jesus’ new commandment at the last supper, be fulfilled: love one another as I love you. [7] It is always possible to follow this commandment because the Holy Spirit, who is the personal Love of the Father and the Son, has been poured into our hearts. Christ himself assures us: You are my friends if you do what I command you . . . I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. [8]

With words of Benedict XVI, I desire this for you, my dear sons: “May the certainty that Christ does not abandon us and that no obstacle can prevent the accomplishment of his universal plan of salvation be a cause of constant consolation – also in difficulties – and steadfast hope for you. The Lord's goodness is always with you, and it is powerful. The Sacrament of Orders, which you are about to receive, will make you sharers in the very mission of Christ; you will be called to scatter the seed of his Word, the seed that carries in itself the Kingdom of God; to dispense divine mercy and to nourish the faithful at the table of his Body and Blood.” [9]

I congratulate the families and friends of the new deacons. And I invite everyone to pray for these brothers of ours. Let us pray for all the Church’s ministers, above all for the Holy Father, Francis. Let us pray also for many priestly ordinations throughout the whole world.

Attentive to the suggestions of the Holy Father, I think that today is also a favorable occasion to draw close to the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Then we will all become people who, like our Lady, receive Christ, carry him with us and make him known to all those we encounter.

May Jesus Christ be praised!

[1]Roman Missal, Opening prayer of the Mass for the ordination of deacons.

[2] First Reading (Jer 1:7-9).

[3] Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, November 24, 2013, no. 256.

[4] Second reading (Eph 4:2-3).

[5] St Josemaría, Words in a family gathering, February 13, 1955.

[6] St Josemaría, Notes from a meditation, March 29, 1956.

[7] Gospel (Jn 15:12).

[8]Ibid., 14-15.

[9] Benedict XVI, Homily for a priestly ordination, April 29, 2007.

Romana, No. 59, July-December 2014, p. 295-298.

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