At the Priestly Ordination of Faithful of the Prelature, Shrine of Torreciudad, Spain (August 31, 2014)
My dear Nacho and Luisra; dear parents and brothers and sisters of the two ordinands; my dear brothers and sisters:
My heart and soul are overflowing with joy in this place so loved and desired by St. Josemaría, who from Heaven is following us closely. You know perfectly well that he urged forward the construction of this church in honor of our Lady with one exclusive aim: that those who come here, through the intercession of a Mother who never abandons us, will approach with still more trust the forgiveness of our sins, in order to feel ourselves, as we truly are, loved, followed, understood by this Lord of ours who is all mercy for those who draw close to Him.
The readings we have listened to are an invitation for each of us to take to heart our personal responsibility. The Lord has anointed us. I recall St. Josemaría’s joy when referring to the anointing we have all received in Baptism, and also to the new anointing that strengthens us to fight the battles of God in Confirmation. Therefore each and every one of us, through the royal priesthood that Christ has infused in our soul, are enabled to be men and women who bring to this world of ours the name of God, the love of God, the understanding of God.
I would also like to recall now our beloved Don Álvaro; within a few weeks we will celebrate his beatification, his being raised to the altars. He was, as you know, a man, a priest, a bishop who because he sought out God’s grace intensely, was able to communicate the simplicity, the attractiveness, the joy of being brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, sons and daughters of God the Father, temples of the Holy Spirit. I suggest that you go to his powerful intercession because, if already here on earth he poured himself out generously to look after and listen to and learn from everyone, you can imagine how closely he now follows us, helps us, and urges us forward.
We have to give great thanks to God for the words we have heard in the responsorial psalm: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want (Ps 22:1). Let each of us consider this carefully: we are the object of God’s love of predilection; he wants to be our shepherd and is the Pastor bonus, the Good Shepherd who never abandons us. Moreover, if we should ever have the sadness of separating ourselves from him, he waits for us and, as tells us with that graphic image we have read so many times in the Gospel, he goes in search of us like the lost sheep and takes on himself our sorrows, placing us on his shoulders. Therefore let us say with heartfelt conviction: the Lord is my shepherd, yours, mine. And he wants us to approach him with trust, making everything that is his our own and everything that is ours God’s.
Now I want to address Nacho and Luisra. We have heard some words of Isaiah that refer to everyone, since the Holy Spirit is upon all of us (see Is 61:1-3). But you two specifically are going to receive the greatest gift that a man can receive on earth: the capacity to celebrate Holy Mass in persona Christi. Christ is going to act through you to make present the sacrifice of Calvary, from which pours forth all the Church’s life and riches. You are also going to have the capacity to forgive sins; not you, but Christ himself, making use of your words, your attention, and your pastoral work. It is very important that we now pray for all the priests in the world. Let us never cease to feel that responsibility.
Each and every one of you is responsible for the holiness all priests should strive for; and they, not because they are better or more important, also spur each of us upwards so that we aspire to the goal of the life of every woman and man: holiness. All of us, by God’s love, are called to holiness, to life in Christ, with Christ and through Christ. Nor should we become discouraged when we see our own littleness, our own weakness. For he is waiting for us and tells us once more, as he told the Apostles: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19). Aren’t you moved when you recall the words we have heard in the Gospel? For you, and you, and you, each one of you, and I, we are that salt, salt with a divine savor, which has to season our work in this society. And we are at the same time, because God wants it, a light that becomes stronger and stronger, like a beam that brings light to its environment, precisely because he gives us that light at every moment and we can receive that light with the grace of the Holy Spirit. You two should be priests one hundred percent, and let all of us be apostles of Christ to bring him to all the pathways of this world.
I can assure you that St. Josemaría—and also Don Álvaro following in the footsteps of St. Josemaría—gave to his whole life, including his daily life working at his desk, a pastoral dimension. Behind the papers, behind the issues, he saw souls he loved in Christ, with the strength of Christ’s love, souls he wanted to serve. Let us never forget it. By God’s will, priests—but also you women and men—are mediators between Heaven and mankind. Therefore, to you two I say: my sons, you are going to receive some extraordinary powers, and I would like you to be aware of that intimacy with God when you are assisting each person. I want to remind you of some words of St. Josemaría: “God our Lord is infinite; his love is inexhaustible; his clemency and tenderness toward us are limitless. He grants us his grace in many other ways, but he has expressly and freely established, as only he can do, seven effective signs to enable men to share in the merits of the redemption in a stable, simple, and accessible way” (Christ Is Passing By, no. 78).
Therefore, I ask you with all my soul not to fail to speak about the sacrament of Confession. Don’t be afraid, don’t have human respects. Souls are awaiting your help. And also don’t be afraid to speak about the Eucharist. For twenty centuries Jesus has been waiting for each of us with the same love he had when he came into this world and with the same love he had when he thought of us before the creation of the world. Through Baptism, he has freed us from original sin, but we are all aware of our personal weakness and of the possibility that we might offend God. Nevertheless, God is not like men, who keep a memory of offenses committed against them. God, if we go to him, forgives us, embraces us and tells us once again: forward, forward; and as in the parable of the prodigal son, he wants us to share in his treasures and riches.
We have also heard Paul’s words: the love of Christ urges us (2 Cor 5:14 [Vulg]). Yes, it is true, that Christ loves you, loves me, with all his infinite strength. And love, as you know perfectly well, is repaid with love. Therefore, our beloved Don Álvaro not only sought to have an intense life of piety; he went to the sacraments punctually, truly eager to obtain the necessary fruit of the grace that reaches us through these supernatural means, which are like the footsteps of Christ on earth.
Before ending I would like to remind you of what we have heard: “You are salt, you are light” (see Mt 5:13-14). Let us ask our Lord to give us the light and the salt to accompany Francis, our Pope, so that he feels sustained every day by our prayer and our mortification. It isn’t difficult. Love, affection, filiation, bring with them, as a natural consequence, joyful and voluntary sacrifice. In these moments of history, let us insistently beseech Heaven for peace in the world. I ask you, my children, my brothers and sisters, not to listen to the news simply as new information. Let us pray for all the places where people are suffering, where people are undergoing serious persecution for their faith. Therefore, may your prayer and my prayer, and our mortification, reach out to all humanity, through the intercession of Our Lady of Torreciudad.
There is a very significant photograph of St. Josemaría gazing with great gratitude at the image in the altarpiece, the image through whose intercession our Lord deigned to cure him of a grave illness when he was a child. So let us look at our Lady and ask her to help all of us—and now specifically Nacho and Luisra—to have a priestly soul in all our actions, since each of us can be the priest of his or her own existence. May holy Mary make us good and faithful, as were St. Josemaría and the soon to be Blessed Álvaro del Portillo. May you truly take to heart this reality, and ask our Lady’s help: the Church is in my hands, in my life, in my faith, in my loyalty. May God bless you. And I congratulate with all my heart the parents and brothers and sisters of the two new priests. Our Lord has passed through your families with this special blessing.
Romana, No. 59, July-December 2014, p. 290-293.