“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” Ordination to the Diaconate of Fidelis Udousoro

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Fidelis, you are here in Burnie about to be ordained to the diaconate as a step on your journey to the priesthood.

At the heart of your vocation to the priesthood is the operation of a divine plan. This plan for the life of an individual believer does not necessarily lend itself to logic or common sense. The divine plan – or better, the will of God for us – is something patient and consistent, carrying a wisdom outside of human wisdom. The will of God is no whim or sudden thought. It is something envisaged from the very beginning of our lives. The Prophet Jeremiah was alerted to this in the words we listened to in the first reading today: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”, says the Word of God. Fidelis, before you were formed in the womb God knew you and had a plan for you. Now today this plan is taking firm shape and clear direction. The Church has accepted your request to be ordained a deacon. This, we believe, is God’s plan for your life. And God does not change his mind.

Of course, we are always left free to choose or not to choose God’s intention for our lives. You have chosen to accept God’s will. There is something always attractive and inviting in God’s call on us. We want to do what God is asking of us. We are drawn into His purpose for our life. We are enticed. This is what Jeremiah would later comment on as he considered his own fate, and experienced some sufferings. Somehow, though, Jeremiah knew that despite the challenges he was encountering this was what he was meant to do. Deep in his spirit there was a fire burning that he could not resist. You may experience times of darkness, times of feeling alone, times of weariness, times of feeling unsuccessful. Never let go of the knowledge that this is what God has asked of you, and God will never let you down. So trust him and turn to Him in times of personal need.

As we heard in the Gospel reading today, the Lord asks us to match his preparedness to lay down his life: “unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies”. Becoming a deacon, becoming a priest means a certain dying, a dying to self. We must be prepared to die. For the Lord adds that if the seed does die then it will yield a rich harvest. As you die to yourself, you will produce a rich harvest.

Fidelis, this is the mystery of sacred orders. You are asked to lay down your life, but for a deep purpose. The sacrifice you make of your own life will yield a rich harvest. To the extent that you do not live for yourself, you will be an instrument of bringing life to others. The more you give of yourself to the Lord, the more the Lord will use you for the good of others.

Fidelis, in the living of our calling to sacred orders what the Lord seeks from us is our love for him which inspires our self-giving. I know that is what is in your heart.

To love Christ means simply to have him at the centre of our lives. Like St Paul we can say, “For me to live is Christ”. He is the animating principle of our lives. It is something which is impossible to explain or even to understand, but I know that I want to live my life focussed on Jesus Christ. I want to proclaim him. I want to help others know him. I want to be an instrument of his love and grace touching the lives of others.

I live for him. No day goes by but I am in personal communion with him. I cannot envisage my life apart from him.

Fidelis, that is why you are here today. You know God has called you. You know that you love him. And, in the end, that is all that counts.

Fidelis, today you are prepared to accept a call to embrace the celibate state that you might be single minded in giving your all to Christ.

You are willing to embrace and join his voice with the choir of the church offering a sacrifice of praise daily in the Divine Office.

You are willing to offer your life up in service of God and the people of God. You seek not his own glory or accomplishment, but you are content to lay down your life in daily availability to the needs of the people.

You desire to be an instrument of bringing the love and compassion of God to those in need – be it physical, emotional or spiritual.

You want to do this because the Lord has asked you to do it. And you are content, happy and joyful to say yes.

Fidelis, may the Lord who has called you to sacred orders, pour forth his love upon you this day as you offer yourself this day. Know today the Lord confirms his intentions for you. You are to be ordained a deacon. The Second Vatican Council described the deacon as having a ministry “of the Liturgy, of the Gospel and of Charity” (LG 29).

The Church entrusts to you the ministry of the Word. You are the minister of the Gospel in the celebration of the Mass. You will be called upon to preach. Proclaim the word with clarity, boldness and zeal. It is the word of truth, of light and of life. Never be ashamed of the Gospel and never back away from its challenging truth.

The Church entrusts to you the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. You may be called upon to celebrate Marriages and to conduct Funerals when there is no Mass. You become a minister of the transforming power of God brought into people’s lives through the sacraments. Celebrate each sacramental moment with profound reverence and prayer.

The Church asks you to have a special interest in works of charity, following the example of the first deacons and the ancient tradition of the Church. Develop in your heart a great compassion, kindness and patience. Give to those who are in need, not just practical supports, but be a witness to the love of Christ.

In all of this the Church encompasses your ministry as deacon with the notion of service. You follow the example of Christ himself who did not come to be served but to serve. Give your life in willing and generous service. It will become the great joy of your life as you see the fruit of your labours.

Fidelis, we gathered here unite together in commending you to Almighty God: that as you embrace the Lord’s call you will know in your life joy in the Lord’s service.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Tuesday, 13 June 2017

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