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Homily at the Deacon Ordination

Celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Mary on December4, 2010

With the imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration the Lord will pour out the Holy Spirit upon these twenty acolytes, and consecrate them deacons. All will be permanent deacons ordained for the service of this local Church, the Archdiocese of Miami. Nineteen of them are chosen from the ranks of mature married men. I want to thank the wives of the nineteen for their permission for these men to pursue this ministry and I thank them and their families for this continued support as these men assume the responsibilities of deacons. Another candidate, is not married. Today he will also freely embrace the celibate state as a sign and a motive of pastoral charity.

My dear friends, these men receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the order of deacons through the “laying on of hands – in the words of the Second Vatican Council – not for the priesthood, but for the ministry. Strengthened by sacramental grace, they serve the People of God, in the diakonia of liturgy, word, and charity, in communion with the Bishop and his presbyterate.” Lumen Gentium, 29.

Mis hermanos, estos hombres serán Diáconos de la Iglesia de Dios. Como tales, son ordenados para ser símbolo e instrumento de Cristo, quien vino “no para ser servido, sino para servir”.

Si podemos asociar las palabras “cristiano” y “ambición”, debe ser solamente cuando la “ambición cristiana” describe la pasión del cristiano por servir - ya que el “servicio” es la mayor vocacion de cada cristiano.

My brothers, you will be Deacons of the Church of God. As such, you are ordained to be a sign and instrument of Christ who came, “not to be served but to serve”.

If we can associate the words “Christian” and “ambition”, it should only be when “Christian ambition” describes the Christian’s passion to serve. For “service” is the highest calling of every Christian. Even the Pope – who is the “highest” figure in the hierarchy of the Church – is rightly called: the Servus servorum Dei, the Servant of the Servants of God.

Jezi ki remèt travay li nan men mesaje l yo ba yo pouvwa kreye mwayen ki nesesè pou Bon Nouvèl la kab gaye toupatou sou tè a, pou delivrans Jezi Kri kab rive nan lavi tout pitit Bondye yo. Nan premye tan Legliz la, mesaje Jezi yo te bezwen asosye pou ede yo okipe moun ki te malere, ki tap resevwa konkou nan men kominote a. Se nan sikonstans sa a, yo vin kreye wòl dyak yo. Pawòl “dyak” soti nan yon mo grèk ki vle di “sèvitè”. Konsa chak fwa Legliz ap sakre yon dyak se yon nouvo sèvitè li bay Pèp Bondye a.

As ordained deacons, you are to inspire, to promote and to help coordinate the service that the whole Church must undertake in imitation of Christ. Your diakonia or service is threefold: service of the Word, service of the Eucharist, and service of the poor.

As deacons you have the duty of proclaiming the Gospel and helping the priests explain the Word of God. Today, I will entrust you with the Book of the Gospel with these words: Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Remember it is his Gospel, not yours; it is the Word of God, not our own! As heralds, you must always speak in his name and not in your own.

The Church is to live always in the world, but not to be of the world. Living in the world, the Church has a unique service to render to the world– it is the diakonia of the truth, the service of the truth. As ministers of the Church, you must understand that it is the truth that judges events –not vice versa, as so often happens today in our current culture. By your faithful service to the Gospel in its integrity – without compromise, without accommodation, hesitation or fear – you must help the world to discover that Truth that has a human face, the Truth that is a person: Jesus Christ.

La Iglesia siempre ha de vivir en el mundo, pero no ser del mundo. Viviendo en el mundo, la Iglesia tiene un solo servicio que prestarle al mundo – es la diakonia de la verdad, el servicio de la verdad. Por medio de su servicio fiel al Evangelio en su integridad – sin compromiso, sin acomodaciones, duda o temor – tienen que ayudar al mundo a descubrir esa Verdad que tiene un rostro humano, la Verdad que es una persona: Jesucristo.

As deacons, you are the first co-workers of the Priest in the celebration of the Eucharist. As co-workers of the Priest, you also are servers of the Mysterium fidei, the great mystery of faith.

All Christ’s faithful can come to a fuller and deeper understanding of and participation in these “mysteries”, if your service at the altar helps to underscore the “sacredness” of this sacrament encounter with the Living Christ. At the altar, your language, your demeanor must in no way be profane or given to an informal familiarity – for in this Holy Sacrifice we meet our Lord and Redeemer.

The Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, reminded us in Ecclesia de Eucharistia: “The Church has received the Eucharist from Christ her Lord not as one gift – however precious – among many others, but as the gift par excellence, for it is the gift of himself, of his person in his sacred humanity, as well as the gift of his saving work”. (#11)

During this Advent Season, we prepare ourselves to receive the Lord who comes. Though he will come in glory at the end of time, he came among us first in humility taking on our human nature when the Eternal Word became our flesh in the poverty of Bethlehem. And he still comes to us today; through Sacramental signs, bread becomes his flesh: the Eucharist is God’s gift for the Life of the World.

Our communion with Christ in the Eucharist, for this reason, must lead us to seek communion with our brothers and sisters. Nourished on the Eucharistic bread, and therefore becoming more fully alive in Christ, we all must pay attention to the needs of others noticing their pain and suffering, and thus be in the world as witnesses to hope.

Yes, deacons assist at the altar; but they are call primarily to that other “service of the table” referred to in the Acts of the Apostles: the care of the orphans and widows.
As co-workers with the Bishop and his priests, you must be the living and working expression of the charity of the Church. To you, then, is entrusted in a special way the ministry of charity that is at the origin of the institution of the deacon..

Legliz pa voye n fè travay pa n. Men, li voye n kontinye travay Jezi a. Poutèt sa, fò nou toujou rete tache tout tan sou Jezi pou ou kab fè sa Legliz ap tann nan men n nan, fò nou mache pye pou pye ak Jezi, pou nou kab ede frè n ak sè n yo jwenn delivrans n ap chèche pou kont pa n nan tou. Se ak lide sa a nan tèt nou, n ap pran angajman n ap pran nan.

Como compañeros de trabajo del Obispo y de los sacerdotes, los diaconos deben ser la expresión viva y activa de la caridad de la Iglesia. A ustedes, pues, les es confiado de una manera especial el ministerio de la caridad que se encuentra en el origen de la institución de diáconado.
De modo que ustedes tienen la responsabilidad especial de identificar a la Iglesia con los necesitados y, en particular, con los que carecen del poder de la voz en los márgenes de nuestra sociedad.

Entre tales personas, el diácono ha de hablar sobre Cristo y ofrecerles la variada ayuda de la Iglesia. En la Iglesia, el diácono ha de hablar sobre los pobres, hacer conocidas sus necesidades e inspirar y movilizar la respuesta de la comunidad católica.

As seen in the very origins of the Diaconate, you, deacons, have a special responsibility to identify to the Church those who are in need and particularly those who are without the power of voice at the margins of our society.

Among such people, the deacon is to speak about Christ and to offer them the Church’s varied assistance. In the Church, the deacon is to speak about the needy, to articulate their needs and to inspire and mobilize the Catholic community’s response. Imitate that early deacon of Rome, St. Lawrence who was martyred in the year 258. When ordered by the pagan emperor to hand over the treasures of the Church, he gathered together the poor and sick and said: "This is the treasure of the Church."

Through the ministry of her deacons, the Church can make herself present to the world of need and pain that too often remains invisible to us within the walls our normal parish life. You must continually remind us that there, among needy and the marginalized, lies the true treasure of the Church.

Como diáconos, ustedes nacen del Altar – desde adentro del corazón del Sacrificio Eucarístico. El diaconado nace en oración. Y la oración – y solamente la oración – los sostendrá y los mantendrá fieles a su triple diakonia de la Palabra, la Eucaristía y la Caridad.

As this beautiful Ordination ceremony so richly makes clear, as deacons, you are born from the Altar – from within the heart of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. You are born in prayer. And prayer – and only prayer - will sustain you and keep you faithful to your triple diakonia of Word, Eucharist and Charity.

In Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict reminds us that, since God is Love, in order to give love we must receive love. In that encyclical he mentions Blessed Mother Teresa three times to stress that the roots of effective Christian service and charity is found in prayer.

For this reason, I recommend to you, the Liturgy of the Hours. The Liturgy of the Hours is entrusted in a particular way to the ordained ministers of the Church. The Liturgy of the Hours belongs to you – no less than it belongs to the bishops and priests who are bound to it for their daily prayer.

Pope John Paul II, in urging that our parishes in the new millennium become schools of prayer, also highly recommended that the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours be promoted among all the faithful. As deacons you can be instrumental in better acquainting the laity with The Liturgy of the Hours. And your own efforts to pray daily The Liturgy of the Hours can help you to grow in apostolic vigor, to be strengthened in faithfulness and thus to increase your ability to serve. And, since it is a prayer offered in the Spirit to the Father in the name of Christ for the Church and for the whole world, it is itself another form of diakonia.

Al igual que aquellos varones elegidos por los Apostoles para el ministerio de la caridad, tambien ustedes deben dar testimonio del bien, llenos del Espiritu Santo y del gusto por las cosas de Dios.

Follow the example of the Lord himself: just as he himself has done, you also should do. Do God’s will from the heart: serve the people in love and joy as you would the Lord himself.

Comments from readers

Mary Sturm - 12/09/2010 10:00 AM
What a beautiful day as the men , 20 of them, committed to serve the Church and give their lives to the Lord. Congratulations to all the deacons, their families and friends on this momentous occasion!
A special blessing for Deacon William Horton from St Gregory the Great Parish from the Vocation Committee at St Gregory. Thank you so much for your vocation.
Joe and Carol Alberstadt - 12/08/2010 01:11 PM
We are friends with one of the Deacons, Jerry McGuinn. We read the homily and found it to be very informative and profound. Since we could not be in attendance personally, it felt like we were there. We certainly prayed for Jerry and the other men on that day as they take on this monumental task as Deacons of the Church.

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