Today the Church of the Diocese of Orlando is blessed; Hoy la Iglesia en la Diocesis de Orlando esta bendecida ; as we gather in pray for eighteen of our brothers who are about be ordained to the Permanent Diaconate. I welcome you to the beautiful Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Bienvenidos a esta bella Basilica Santuario Nacional, Maria Reina del Universo.
I thank Fr. Robert Webster, the rector, and staff for their help in making this day possible. I also welcome the people who are joining us at home via live stream from Orlando to Puerto Rico to New York, to Chicago and to the Philippines.
The priests and deacons join us here today in prayer and thanksgiving to God. As Scripture reminds us, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”
We rejoice and are glad in welcoming, Nos regocijamos hoy dando la bienvenida a Julio, Joseph, Kelvin, Michael, Jason, Gerardo, Richard, Jose, Gregory, Frank, James, Joseph, Jairo, Javier, Jesus, Gary, Ralph, and Thomas. We offer a special welcome and thank you to your wives for their prayers, support, Ofrecemos una bienvenida especial a sus esposas por sus oraciones y apoyo, and accompaniment over these past six years; and gratitude for your children and your families. I thank your children and families for the sacrifice in allowing your parents to be away from you. We now return them to you refreshed and renewed with the peace and love of the Lord. I thank your teachers and professors for their dedication in forming you to become good deacons and servant leaders. I pray a special thanks to Deacons Joe Gassman, David Camous and their deacon formation committee members. The priests, the deacons, the religious and the people of the Orlando Diocese give thanks to God for you today.
For many years, your parishes and parishioners have prayed for you to be ordained deacons. Por muchos anos, sus parroquias y feligreses han orado por ustedes para que sean ordenados dioconos.
We pray that God will bless you in your ministry of service to God and His people. You have been formed by God’s Word which you will preach, teach, and live as gift through your daily living. The grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders will configure your heart to Christ so that your life, ministry, and service will be conformed to that of Christ.
Pope Francis reminds us, El Papa Francisco nos recuerda that the world of self-centeredness, individualism, careerism, and clericalism has no place in the life of ministry in the Church. He exhorts you to be aware that your identity comes not from your title as deacon or from your ministry but from your relationship with Jesus Christ. You are to live as servants of God. This relationship is one of love, lived out in your love for your wife, your family and your sisters and brothers Esta es una relacion de amor, vivida en su amor por sus esposa, sus familias, sus hermanos y hermanas.
Jeremiah the Prophet reminds us, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I dedicated you.” You were formed in the image and likeness of God. At Baptism you were dedicated to know, love, and serve the Lord. God now calls you to do the work for which He dedicated you. Dios los llama para hacer el trabajo por el cual El os ha dedicado. Your ministry must be accompanied by a prayerful life, an open heart and listening spirit so you can hear what God tells you and what work God wants of you. God will be with you in every moment always guiding, helping, and protecting you. God said, “be not afraid for I will be with you” and “I will place my words in your mouth.” Just like Jeremiah, you are saying yes to God in answer to His call with your lives.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear proclaimed the community works together to solve the unique needs of the people. The community appointed men who committed themselves to serving the poor. This allowed the disciples more time to dedicate themselves to evangelizing the people by preaching the Gospel. This story reminds us that we can accomplish wonderful things when we work together. It also shows us that God can and will help us to do wonderful things when we work together so we can be a more effective and a true community of faith. Nos muestra tambien que Dios puede y nos ayudara hace cosas maravillosas cuando trabajamos juntos para ser una comunidad mas efectiva y una comunidad verdadera de fe.
As Deacons you are to have a special relationship with your bishop, he is your spiritual father. You are also to have a special relationship with your priests who are your brothers in Christ. The Gospel of John reminds us “This is my commandment: Love one another as I love you.” “ Este es mi mandamiento: Amanse unos a otros como yo os he amado “ Jesus is not saying as “I have loved” but as “I love you.” God loves you right now.
Pope Francis in an address to permanent deacons last year said, “remember that in the ecclesial body no one can elevate himself above others. In the Church, the opposite logic must apply, the logic of lowering oneself. We are all called to lower ourselves, because Jesus stooped to us, He made himself the servant of all . . . Let us remember, please, that for the disciples of Jesus, to love is to serve and to serve is to reign. Power lies in service, not in anything else . . . Deacons remind the Church that what Saint Theresa discovered is true: the Church has a heart enflamed by love. Yes, a humble heart throbbing with service. Deacons remind us of this when, like the deacon Saint Francis, they bring God’s closeness to others without imposing themselves, serving with humility and joy. The generosity of a deacon who gives of himself without seeking the front ranks; has about him the perfume of the Gospel, he tells of the greatness of God’s humility in taking the first step – always, God always takes the first step – to meet even those who have turned their backs on him.”
Pope Francis went on to say what he expects from the deacons of Rome. “I would like to add three more brief ideas – but do not be afraid: I am coming to the end.” He said “Firstly, I expect you to be humble. En primer lugar, espero que ustedes sean humildes. It is sad to see a bishop and a priest showing off, but it is even sadder to see a deacon wanting to put himself at the center of the world, or at the center of the liturgy, or at the center of the Church. Be humble. Let all the good you do be a secret between you and God. And so, it will bear fruit.
Secondly, I expect you to be good spouses and good fathers. Segundo lugar, yo espero de ustedes que sean buenos esposos y buenos padres. And good grandparents. This will give hope and consolation to couples who are going through difficult times and who will find in your genuine simplicity an outstretched hand. They will be able to think: “Look at our deacon! He is happy to be with the poor, but also with the parish priest and even with his children and his wife!” Even with his mother-in-law, which is very important! Doing everything with joy, without complaining it is a testimony that is worth more than many sermons. And out with the complaints. Without complaining. “I had so much work, so much…”. Nothing. Send these things away. Away. The smile, the family, open to the family, generosity . . .
Finally, thirdly, I expect you to be sentinels: not only to know how to spot the poor and the distant – this is not so difficult – but to help the Christian community to recognize Jesus in the poor, ayudar la comunidad Cristiana reconocer a Jesus en los pobres and the distant, as He knocks on our doors through them. It is also a catechetical and prophetic dimension of the sentinel-prophet-catechist who knows how to see beyond and help others to see beyond, and to see the poor who are far away. You can make your own the beautiful image at the end of the Gospels when Jesus asks His disciples from afar: “Have you nothing to eat?” And the beloved disciple recognizes Him and says: “It is the Lord!” (Jn 21:5,7). Whatever the need, see the Lord. So, you, too, recognize the Lord when, in so many of his smaller brothers and sisters, He asks to be fed, to be welcomed and loved. I would like this to be the profile of the deacons of Rome and of the whole world. Work on this. You have generosity, and go forward with this.”
One of the most profound prayers of the Ordination Rite is the Handing on the Book of Gospels to each of you. This prayer, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
My prayer, dear deacons, is that God will reveal His love to you so that your ministry will be one with Christ in service to all God’s people.