At the Diaconal Ordination of Faithful of the Prelature, Basilica of St. Eugene, Rome (October 29, 2016)
My dear sons who are about to receive the diaconate.
Dear brothers and sisters:
1. I am reminded of Saint Josemaría’s immense joy on the occasion of these ordinations, and of others all over the world, and I would like that we too unite ourselves to his joyful prayer. With firm faith and loving gratitude we have listened again to the words of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you (Jer 1:5). These revelations are addressed to each of us Christians, because God has chosen us before the creation of the world; he has called to be configured to Christ in Baptism and to follow in his footsteps, in response to his great love.
Over the course of the years, in the Prelature of Opus Dei, this universal call to holiness and apostolate has been constantly present in the work of its faithful, both men and women. In the words of Saint Paul, we all form within the Church “one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call” (Eph 4:4).
Whether in apostolic celibacy, in the priesthood, or in marriage, we Christians share in the one and same vocation, personalized for each of us according to God’s plan. And we are all equally called to holiness. Today, moreover, I would like to recall that the diaconal ordination of these faithful of the Prelature—and, within six months, their priestly ordination—does not change their affiliation with Opus Dei. Holy Orders certainly confers a new state upon them through the character and grace of the sacrament. But the call to identification with Christ, within the path of Opus Dei, is the same both for priests and lay people, maintaining, of course, the difference between the clerical and lay states.
2. Saint Josemaría repeated tirelessly that the faithful of the Prelature who receive ordination do so not with the idea that they will thus be able to strive more effectively for holiness. They know perfectly well that the lay vocation is full and complete in itself—that it is a very clear way to achieve Christian holiness, to serve the Church and souls.
Therefore, addressing myself to those of you who in a few moments will become deacons, I remind you of the advice of the Apostle to the Gentiles: “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph 4:1-2). In each of you, charity—the soul of all the other Christian virtues—takes on the form of pastoral, ministerial charity. Your specific responsibilities—preaching the word of God, administering the Eucharist and taking part in liturgical celebrations, serving the others—should be a generous and joyful dedication to everyone in the Church, Christ’s Mystical Body.
I recommend to you the advice of Pope Francis: “Diligently read and meditate on the Word of the Lord, that you may believe what you read, teach what you have learned in faith, and practice what you teach” (Homily, April 17, 2016). Do so with joy. Strive, as Saint Paul says, to always resolve in your heart “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3).
3. Don’t forget that the words of Jesus read in the Gospel of today’s Mass are addressed in a special way to sacred ministers, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (Jn 15:14). How marvelous is this divine promise addressed to everyone and to you! With his help and the prayers of so many people, you will be worthy of this friendship and make a reality of Jesus’s promise: “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16).
I also want to express my warm thanks and sincere affection to the parents and brothers and sisters of the newly ordained, for the important role you have played in the response of your sons to our Lord’s call. Continue to pray for them. And I ask all of you who are taking part in this celebration to do likewise.
Let us have recourse especially to the intercession of our Lady in these remaining weeks of the Year of Mercy, so that Mary may raise up many priestly vocations in the Church. Let us also ask that during this year very many people all over the world will approach the Sacrament of Confession. May our Mother also obtain abundant graces from her Son for the Pope, for the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, for the bishops, for all sacred ministers as they carry out their daily ministry, and for all of us. Amen.
Praised be Jesus Christ.
Romana, No. 63, July-December 2016, pag. 298-300.