Transitional Diaconate Ordination
May 15, 2021
Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Homeland
The Church Is Not an Abstraction
This morning I have the privilege of ordaining five men to the Order of Deacon. They are your sons, brothers, classmates and friends, and in one instance, your father.
We rejoice in these candidates who are preparing to be ordained as priests. Allow me, if you would, to address most of my words to them, but as you listen to what I say, I ask you to pray intensely for them, that, in the power of the Holy Spirit, they may take this step with loving trust, relying on the unfailing help of the Lord God.
And so, my dear brothers, so soon to be ordained: You present yourselves today for service to the Lord and to the Church as deacons. You do so, fully aware that this is no ordinary time in the life of the Church. This remains a challenging time for the Church and for her mission, yet, these are days the Lord has given us, and they are rich in God’s grace and favor.
The Church you desire to serve as deacons, and God-willing as priests, is holy. The Church was called into existence by Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Mary. Indeed, the Church was called into existence as the Savior entered the world, proclaimed the Good News, died upon the Cross, and rose from the dead, taking his place, exalted at the right hand of the Father.
The Church, established by Christ, was quickened by the Holy Spirit who descended upon the Apostles and the Virgin Mary at prayer.
It is the Church of the Gospels, the Church of the Sacraments, a Church of immense charity, a Church of justice and peace, the Church who looks with eager longing towards the new and heavenly Jerusalem.
But for all that, the Church is not an abstraction. The Church is met and experienced in this world, not as a mere philosophy of life, nor as a mere set of enduring ideas and ideals. Rather, the Church is a concrete reality. It is met in this man, this woman, this pastor, this friend.
All members of the Church—ordained, consecrated and lay—are the face of the Church, the hands and feet of the Body of Christ and the look of the Risen Lord. The encounter with the Risen Lord always takes place through individual persons. Christ is present in varying ways in each one of us, earthen vessels though we be. In each of us, all are present, so closely bonded are we in the communion of saints.
Christ Is Met in You
Dear brothers, baptized into Christ, you shall now be set apart as deacons. You are to become a living image of Christ the deacon, Christ, the Son of God, and the servant of all. You must therefore have the heart, the hands, the attitude, and the look of Christ the deacon.
Encountering you, others are to encounter the Christ who came, not be served but to serve. Encountering you, others are to encounter the Church, the Church that is called out of the darkness of sin and death into the lightsome realm of God’s Kingdom where those who serve are greater than those who are served.
In you will be met Christ the deacon, the Christ who obeyed his Father’s will, the Christ who loved all of us to the very end with a chaste, single-hearted love. See in your promise of obedience and in your promise of chaste celibacy a pathway through which your life will be ever more closely conformed to Christ’s own life.
In your obedience to what the Church will ask of you, through me and my successors, you will imitate the obedience of Christ to his Father’s will, and at the same time show yourselves to be those disciples who love others as Christ loves them, with a sacrificial, self-giving love.
In your promise of chaste celibacy, you will be a living manifestation of Christ’s pure love for the Church whom he took unto himself as his bride in the new and everlasting covenant sealed by his Blood.
Christ will be met in you in many ways: as you preach the Gospel, assist at the altar, distribute Holy Communion at Mass and to the sick, and preside at funerals, weddings, and prayer services. Those meetings will take place when you visit the homebound and serve the poor in their many needs. But such encounters also take place thru a handshake, a phone call, an e-mail, a visit… indeed, through all the ways you will interact with those you serve.
Never take those encounters for granted. Much is at stake, even in your ordinary contacts with those the Lord sends into your life. It can take only one encounter for trust in the Lord and in his Church
to be built up or to be torn down. It can take only one encounter for someone alienated from the Lord and the Church to be welcomed back or to be pushed away . . . This seems intolerable! Who can live with such pressure? How can your every human contact be laden with such enduring significance?
Reliance on Prayer
Dear brothers, on our own, we cannot withstand such pressure. That is why each day, without fail, we must encounter the living God in prayer. As you search the Scriptures, allow God’s Word to pierce your hearts, to empty you of all that is unworthy and to fill you will words of spirit and life.
As you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, hear the voice of Christ in the Psalms, allow the voice of Tradition to resonate in your hearts and frame your day in prayer as you pour out heartfelt petitions for those you are privileged to serve.
Spend time each day in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, deepening your friendship with Him who loved you first and best, growing in your relationship with the One in whose Name you are to minister.
Even as you are entrusted with the message of reconciliation, be sure to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and spiritual direction worthily, so that the darkness of sin might be overcome in you by the light of Christ’s mercy.
Never allow a day to go by without praying the Rosary so that you may come to see Christ through the eyes of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As you grow in your life of prayer, the light of Christ will shine more brightly in your hearts and through you, the Church herself will shine all the more brightly in our midst.
Finally, I entrust you to the Virgin Mary, to Mary, the Mother of the Church, indeed, to Mary Our Queen. May she pray with you and for you and watch over and protect you, that you may be good servants after the heart of her Son, Jesus – to whom all glory and honor be given, now and forevermore. Amen.