Dear friends, these men, who are husbands, fathers, classmates, and friends are recommended as candidates for the permanent diaconate. Allow me to address a few words to them as they are formally declared candidates for Holy Orders and resolve to continue wholeheartedly their diaconal formation.
II. The Year of Faith
This moment of joy, grace, and fresh resolve takes places in the midst of the Year of Faith called for by Pope Benedict XVI. He has called us to a faith that is firmly rooted in the Person of Christ, a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, who is the one Redeemer of the World, a conversion that engages us in mind, heart, and body. “Faith,” he said, is standing with Christ so as to live with him.”
Our Holy Father’s summons echoes the words of St. Paul to Timothy heard today: “Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed … ” St. Paul goes on to say of the Sacred Scriptures that they “ … are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation in Christ Jesus.”
Dear brothers, as I am sure you know, the formation which you are undergoing is more than the fulfilling of requirements for Ordination. It is more than professional development to equip you for ministerial tasks. It is also more than mere personal enrichment. You are being formed, shaped, by the Word you will proclaim so that you might be evangelizers – teachers of the faith, yes, but even more so, witnesses to Christ and to the faith. How important that you allow the Word you are to proclaim continually to transform and strengthen your own life, most especially your marriages, your family, indeed all your relationships, and the way in which you fulfill all your daily responsibilities.
III. A Charity That Evangelizes
As candidates for the diaconate you are being prepared to assist in the sacramental life of the Church and to be ministers of charity. The proclamation of the Word, the Church’s life of sacramental worship, and the ministries of charity are all linked one with the other.
You are being formed to engage in a charity that evangelizes, a love for the poor and needy, a love for the outcast, a love for those whose human dignity is threatened or undermined, precisely as a witness to Christ and to the Gospel of truth, life, and love. It is in being servants of the Word and servants of the Church’s sacramental life that you become servants of the poor and needy. Your fidelity to the truth coupled with your charity that will render your proclamation of the Word credible. In today’s Gospel we saw how Jesus coupled the proclamation of the Gospel with helping those in distress. Thus did he set the pattern for every minister of the Gospel.
IV. Laborers Are Few
Jesus tells us that the harvest is abundant. So many are searching for a truth and love upon which they can stake their lives; so many are waiting to be invited home to the Church. Like Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy, I find myself in need of co-workers who will bring the Gospel with fresh vigor and love to every corner of the Archdiocese.
So with this ceremony of candidacy I rejoice. I rejoice with you, dear brothers, and with your families and classmates. I rejoice with the parish communities from which you hail and with those who have given so generously of themselves for your formation. This morning I invite all of us gathered here this morning to redouble our prayers for these men as they continue their journey of formation, that they may be equipped to preach the Gospel and for every good work that will illuminate for us and our contemporaries the Gospel of life, love, and salvation.
May God bless us and keep us always in his love.