Mass of Ordination 2013

Mass of Ordination:
Bing Monteagudo, Deacon;
Frederick Basco, Priest

St Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore
Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 7 June 2013

My brothers, Bing to be ordained Deacon, and Frederick, to be ordained Priest; and all gathered here tonight – your families, the priests, deacons and seminarians, and all Christ’s faithful, beloved in Him:

To witness an ordination is always a joyful moment, as young men come forward to consecrate themselves to lifelong service, and the Church opens the treasury of grace which is hers from the Lord to bestow the authority and power required to fulfil that service. It is now what the Sacrament makes you become, which is the source of all you will be called to do, that is the cause of our rejoicing: as Pope Francis put it, the unction is prior to the function: the being precedes the doing.

Taking place by happy coincidence on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart, this ordination is graced, from our hearing of the sacred readings, with a particular presence of the Good Shepherd. We will behold Him leading his flock by way of the Cross, as the Preface of the Mass describes, giving Himself up for us with a wonderful love, pouring out blood and water from His pierced side, the wellspring of the Church’s sacraments, inviting us, from that source, to draw water from the springs of salvation.

Our Lord’s gospel parable of the Shepherd seeking out the lost sheep (Lk 15:3-7) is filled with a special poignancy as two men are ordained to pastoral service, one of them as a priest who in the sacrament of reconciliation will be entrusted with His direct ministry to the repentant sinner. As we link this parable in St Luke with our Lord’s words in the first eighteen verses of the tenth chapter of St John’s gospel, what trust the Shepherd has placed in the two of you! He who is the gatekeeper of the sheepfold keeps out the thieves, hirelings and robbers, but He admits you, whom He has called, to be shepherds of His people. May you return often to pray over these verses, for nothing reminds us so much of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as this beautiful image of the Good Shepherd, who as St Paul said tonight in our hearing, shows how God loves us by dying for us while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:7).

Keeping close company with Christ the Good Shepherd will keep fresh and alive within you the pastoral charity which must be at the heart of all ministry: the service of others, not ourselves. Our unmarried state is both a sign and an inspiration to pastoral charity. The Rite of Ordination reminds you that it is a source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. “Compelled by the sincere love of Christ our Lord and embracing this state with total dedication, you will cling to Christ with an undivided heart.

“Firmly planted and grounded in faith, you are to show yourselves chaste and beyond reproach before God and man, as is proper for the ministers of Christ and of the stewards of God’s mysteries.” Follow St Paul’s instruction to the young Timothy: “Be an example to the believers in your speech, in your love, in faith and in purity.” (I Tim 4:12).

For you Deacon Frederick, I would specially recall the homily of Pope Francis at this year’s Chrism Mass, when he spoke of the priest’s anointing. The anointing recalls that of Aaron the High Priest. The image is that of the oil flowing down from Aaron’s head, to his beard, to the collar of his sacred robe, an image of the priestly anointing which through Christ, the Anointed One, reaches the ends of the earth, represented by his robe.

Pope Francis likened this anointing to the anointing of a priest and the chasuble in which he is enrobed in ordination. He says to all priests, let the precious oil of anointing which you have received flow down to the edges of your garment, flow from yourselves to be the fragrant enrichment of the lives of your people, touching everyone like the woman who reached out to touch the hem of the Lord’s cloak, and there found healing. Think of this when in a few moments your hands will be anointed all over with the Sacred Chrism.

It’s a beautiful metaphor, like Pope Francis reminding us to be out and about among the people, being shepherds living amidst their flock, with ‘the smell of the sheep.’ That’s another expression of the meaning of pastoral charity; we are anointed not for ourselves, but for them. “For their sakes I sanctify myself.” We must love them, know them, and serve them in all those qualities and images of our priestly ministry: as a father, a shepherd, a leader, a fisherman, a guide, a prophet, and a teacher.

Both deacon and priest are called to the service of the altar, but to the priest the Church addresses a special charge in these words: “By your ministry, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar. Understand, therefore, what you do, and imitate what you celebrate.” Deacon Frederick, a whole lifetime is not enough to understand what you receive from the Lord tonight, nor to be sufficiently grateful for your priestly call. But one way in which you can express these is in your fidelity to the daily offering of the Mass, apart from sickness or other impossibilities, for the good of the Church, for the living and the dead. Always make it the heart of your daily prayer, your pastoral duties, and your spiritual life.

Our Good Shepherd, the one whose heart is pierced, draws us to the green pastures of eternal life, to the table of God’s children in our family home – there with Our Lady and Mother, the Virgin Mary, there with the saints, our brothers and sisters. And let us all, God’s people, give grateful thanks in this Mass for the response to His call of this new deacon and priest. Let us pray for them, that they will model themselves on the pattern of the Heart of the Saviour, and have the happiness of a long and fruitful ministry in the service of His Church and people. Amen.