My dear friends in Christ,
Forever I will sing of the goodness of the Lord. Rightfully so, for you and I who are disciples and followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for we have much to sing about, much to be grateful for. The very blessings of our lives in faith, the community we form, the blessings that come in ordinary life, and in the most extraordinary ways, in faith. As we gather each day around the altar of our savior and enter into the mystery of His death and resurrection, and receive His body, blood, soul and divinity as the foretaste of everlasting life. We have much to sing about in thanksgiving to the Lord.
But it seems to me that today we have a singular blessing for which we will sing with all our hearts and minds. In this one historic moment in the life of our diocese, to have six of our brothers come forward freely, generously, to offer their lives to be configured to Christ the Priest, and to be a living sacrament of His merciful goodness and love. And to lay down their lives so that you and I might have greater life in Him. If that is not a blessing to sing about, I don’t know what is.
You, my dear brothers, to say that we and I are proud of you would be an understatement. When I look at you as I’ve come to know you all these years, so very different one from the other. The odyssey – if I may call it – of your life, for all its twists and turns, some of you traveling from foreign lands as young people or as young adults. Those who, in your studies and in your education, in the ups and downs, the successes and trials, the great moments of suffering and pain, the spirit had foreseen. And you by your generosity cooperated to allow this moment to occur.
And what I am most grateful to all of you is not simply your yes today, but how I have seen you grow into an unbreakable brotherhood amongst all of you. You are in many ways, my brothers, so aptly prepared for this moment. Because this moment is a moment of both challenge and great hope for the Church and for the world.
In your formation you know well what it is the Lord has asked of you. And yet I think it is good and just that we remember, all of us, in this sacred space. For these six, our brothers, were configured in baptism, adopted sonship into the mystical Body of Christ. And they’ve been called to a holiness of life.
And yet they have this other calling, that with by the imposition of my hands and the grace of the Holy Spirit, they will be configured to Christ the Priest. And to them will be given a three-fold function – the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ to exercise on behalf of us, His body.
Recall what the Lord is asking. For you are called to sanctify God’s people, to lead them in prayer. Most especially entering into the Great Mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with your unworthy hands, as our mind to allow simple bread and wine to become the antipasto of eternal life. I can’t help it, I’m Italian.
And yet, you will powerfully sanctify God’s people, to the extent that you seek radical personal Holiness yourself. For in the age in which we live, people may listen to what you say but they will look intently at how you live. And I have every confidence that you have walked that road and will continue to walk that road. That as a truly humbly, bold man of radical Holiness and leader of prayer, you will guide all of us to greater sanctity of life.
And then you are called to be prophets in our midst, which is to preach the Word of God. And as I’ve said to you many times, allow me on this sacred moment to remind you again; you are called to preach the gospel courageously, fearlessly and effectively. Be patient with God’s people at times when they cannot fully always appreciate what it is your heart aches to say. For you will find the words and gestures and actions and presence to convey the truth who is Jesus Christ.
And then, of course, as deacons you have already understood what the kingly office is, which is to serve, to give your life over as John the Baptist says, that they He may increase and I may decrease. And so as priests we lift up He to increase, which is His mystical body. And we, by decreasing, are giving over service which is the greatest of all authorities.
I know in my heart of hearts you are ready for this vocation. And that is why I am delighted to be here to be the humble channel of so great a Grace.
But allow me, for your sake, for my sake, and for the sake of all of us here today, my friends, in such great numbers. These are brothers are entering into the mystery of priesthood, joining their brothers, some of whom have served as priests for many years. And you and I navigate a world where it is filled with challenge to Christian Faith.
We heard from the first and second readings about how wolves will infiltrate, so that they might divide God’s people. We heard of how we need to stand firm against trickery and against truths that are not truths at all. You, my brothers, are entering into this mystery in a time which, for the eyes of those who do not believe, may be a time of perhaps wonderment and discouragement. But you go forth with hope and vigor and zeal.
Because, may I suggest, you follow the example of the man whom the church honors today – Saint Bernardine of Siena. Who in his own age, in the 14th century, found a world that had lost its path. And oftentimes a church that had become, lacks in its worship and in its witness.
And what did he turn to? The Holy Name of Jesus.
And that, my brothers, is what I’m going to ask you and me and us, in this church, to bring out into that world. For you are priests of the only One in
whom there is salvation for every person who has ever existed. For there is no salvation outside of the name of Jesus.
And if you wish to put the evil one at bay, if you wish to separate what is false from what is truth, bring forth the name, power and teaching of Jesus. If you wish to heal a broken world, if we wish to give hope to those who are lost, those who are searching, those who think there is no purpose and meaning to life, bring to them the name of Jesus and invite them and walk with them in the path before them.
There are many ways to live life, and you, my brothers, are entering into the great mystery of the priesthood, to show the world that there is only one true way to live life. There is only one way to have true hope. There is only in one name where every human heart. as broken as it can be. will find healing and strength. You, my brothers, will go forth carrying the name of Jesus. And you will help to bring His kingdom into this world in ways that you could not even begin to imagine.
So, my brothers, we are all praying for you. And I stand ready to help you in any way I can, to go forth from this church to be a happy, healthy, joyful and holy priest of Jesus Christ. Congratulations, my brothers, and may God bless you today and all the days of your life, through Christ our Lord, amen.