With the greatest of joy and affection, I greet each and every one of you, as we gather together united in prayer, as members of God’s family, to celebrate the Rite of Ordination to the Deaconate, of Brendan McCarrick and Jamie Twohig. I welcome Brendan and Jamie, I welcome you, their families and friends, and I welcome members of my Pallottine Family, who will concelebrate the Eucharist here this afternoon. It is a very special day for Brendan and Jamie, for their family and friends and a significant day for the Pallottine community. I am delighted to join with you today. It is indeed a privilege for me to be asked as Bishop of Ossory, to ordain these two men to the order of Deacon for the Pallottine Community.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
These men who come before us, Brendan and Jaimie, are now to be raised to the order of deacons. Consider carefully the ministry to which they are to be promoted.
Brendan and Jamie will draw new strength from the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will help the bishop and his body of priests as ministers of the Word, of the Altar, and of Charity. They will make themselves servants of all. As ministers of the altar, Brendan and Jaimie will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice, and give the Lord’s body and blood to the community of believers.
It will also be their duty, at the bishop’s discretion, to bring God’s word to believer and unbeliever alike, to preside over public prayer, to baptise, to assist at marriages and bless them, to give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial. Once they are consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes to us from the apostles and is bound more closely to the altar, they will perform works of charity in the name of the bishop or their superior. From the way they go about these duties, may you recognise them as disciples of Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.
Priests and Deacons are called to serve the people of God, not to be served. Every gift and blessing that God bestows on us is not just for ourselves – it is for others – it is for sharing with others. And when we share these gifts, blessings and talents, then our own lives become ever more enriched. Brendan and Jamie, if you live your lives in a spirit of mercy and compassion, you will do as the good Lord asks of us as priests, and that is, you will serve the people of God entrusted to your care with a profound sense of mercy and compassion. Do bear in mind that not only in the writings of Pope Francis do we find the importance of Mercy and Compassion but also in page after page in the writings of our founder, St. Vincent Pallotti.
Announcing the Great Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Holy Father, Pope Francis said: “I have often thought of how the Church may render more clear her mission to be a witness to mercy; and we have to make this journey. It is a journey which begins with spiritual conversion. Therefore, I have decided to announce an Extraordinary Jubilee which has at its centre the MERCY OF GOD. It will be a HOLY YEAR OF MERCY. We want to live in the light of the word of the Lord: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (cf. Lk 6:36).
As we embrace this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let each one of us be a light of shining hope for the other and by being that light of shining hope, we will do as the Holy Fathers asks of us, and that is, we will live in the light of the Word of the Lord. “‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2. Cor. 4.6).
Some may ask what does it mean to be merciful like the Father? We must imitate the life of Jesus – to live like Jesus who lay down his life for his friends and his enemies. Jesus is asking us to touch human misery – to touch the suffering flesh of the other. Whenever we do so, our lives become wonderfully complicated and often difficult, however, we experience intensely, what it is to be a part of a people.
Mercy comes from two Latin words MISEREOR which means to suffer and CORDIS which means heart, a suffering heart or a broken heart, the CROSS. To suffer as Jesus suffered on the cross. When the Holy Father asks us to “be merciful like the Father” he is not asking us to suffer, but what is asked of us, is that we make ourselves available to one another in times of suffering. When we show mercy and compassion to one another we help alleviate the sufferings of others and we develop a sensitivity of going out to others and helping them overcome their suffering.
To live in a spiritual life is to become missionary – to come out to meet others, and when we do, we learn something new about one another and about God. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God.
We do not live any greater a life when we flee or hide or stop giving and lock ourselves up in our own comforts, when we become individualistic, as such a life is nothing less than selfish.
Being a missionary is not a part time activity but requires surrender to a new kind of existence – a soul filled other centeredness. Our mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of our lives or a badge we can take of – it is not an extra or just another moment in life – it is something we cannot up root from our being without destroying ourselves.
Each one of us has a mission on this earth. That is the reason why we are here in this world. To quote Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
We have to regard ourselves as sealed – even branded by this mission, of bringing light, blessing, hope, healing, and love, to the other. All around us we will begin to see others with soul – people who have chosen to be WITH others and FOR others.
When we speak of each of us living a mission in life – each one of us being unique, I am mindful of the writings of Cardinal John Henry Newman:
“God created me to do Him some definite service.
He has committed some work to me,
which He has not committed to another.
I HAVE A MISSION,
I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.
Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
if I am perplexed, my perplexity may serve Him;
if I am in joy, my joy may serve Him;
if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him.
He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about.
Brendan and Jamie, you are being raised to the order of deacons. The Lord has set an example for you to follow. As deacons you will serve Jesus Christ, who was known among his disciples as the one who served others. Do the will of God generously. Serve God and humankind in love and joy. Look upon all unchastity and avarice as worship of false gods; for no one can serve two masters.
Like the men the apostles chose for works of charity, you should be men of good reputation, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Show before God and humankind that you are above every suspicion of blame, a true minister of Christ and of God’s mysteries, a man firmly rooted in faith. Never turn away from the hope which the Gospel offers; now you must not only listen to God’s word but also preach it. Hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience. Express in action what you proclaim by word of mouth. Then the people of Christ, brought to life by the Spirit, will be an offering God accepts. Finally, on the last day, when you go to meet the Lord, you will hear him say: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”
By your own free choice you seek to enter the order of deacons. You shall exercise this ministry in the celibate state for celibacy is both a sign and a motive of pastoral charity, and a special source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. By living in this state with total dedication, moved by a sincere love for Christ the Lord, you are consecrated to him in a new and special way. By this consecration you will adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart; you will be more freely at the service of God and humankind, and you will be freer in the ministry of Christian conversion and rebirth. By your life and character you will give witness to your brothers and sisters in faith that God must be loved above all else, and that it is he whom you serve in others.
Brendan and Jamie, these are the thoughts that I share with you on this happy day in your lives. I hope you can develop these thoughts as you begin your ministry as Deacons in the Pallottine family while all the time developing and sharing every gift and blessing that God has bestowed on you.
With every blessing of the good Lord.
God bless you always.
+ Séamus Freeman, SAC.
Bishop of Ossory.
16th January 2016