Abbot Austin Cadiz and the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat; dear brother priests concelebrating in this ordination Mass; reverend deacons; brothers and sisters in consecrated life; seminarians; the families, relatives, and guests of our ordinandi; all of you gathered today in this Abbey Church; and to our ordinandi, Reverend Dom Martin, Dom Eugenio, and Dom Pio:
In the early centuries of the Church, the ordinations of bishops, presbyters, and deacons were celebrated on a Sunday. St. Leo the Great says, “It was on Easter evening and on Pentecost that the Lord poured out his Spirit on the apostles. Consequently, the blessing of those to be consecrated should never be imparted except on the day of the resurrection, for Sunday is the day on which all the gifts of grace were bestowed.”
And so, it is very fitting that we gather this Sunday, the Day of the Lord, to celebrate this Eucharist and to ordain our brothers, Reverend Dom Martin to the Order of Presbyters and Dom Eugenio and Dom Pio to the Order of the Diaconate. Let this place be like the upper room where Jesus appeared on Easter evening when he breathed the Spirit to his apostles. Let our coming together be like the first Pentecost when tongues as of fire came and rested on the disciples. Let us pray that Dom Martin, Dom Eugenio, and Dom Pio truly receive the Holy Spirit that makes them ministers of God and his Church.
It is also significant that we gather at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the hour when our Lord gave up the Spirit, the hour of our redemption, the hour of great mercy. In this Eucharist, we beg God to have mercy on us, especially on our brothers being ordained today. My dear ordinandi, you will not be here if not for God’s mercy. You will not be ordained today if God is not merciful. A while ago, Abbot Austin testified that you have been found worthy. But the truth is, you are to be ordained not because you are worthy, because you are not. No one of us is. You are to be ordained because we are “relying on the help of God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Bunga kayo ng awa ng Diyos. At kaya kayo inoordinahanngayon ay dahilkinakaawaan kayo ng Diyos. Kung hindidahilsaawa ng Diyos, wala kayo, walatayong lahat ditongayon.
Dom Martin, Dom Eugenio, and Dom Pio, the readings proclaimed to us today tell the story of every person chosen by God – the story of being called and sent. In the first reading, the Lord commands Moses to summon the tribe of Levi because they are being called and set apart from among the children of Israel to be sent to assist the priests, serve the community, and minister at the Temple. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that when God calls, he equips those he chooses with gifts. And God sends them to use and share those gifts for the building up of the Church. And in the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples the fundamental truth about discipleship. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” God calls and sends.
The Church beautifully celebrates the story of calling and sending in the rites of ordination. The ordination is the ritualization of a vocation that leads to mission. Every vocation starts with a call, an invitation from God. Vocation is not self-presentation. It is a loving and courageous response to a God who invites and calls. That is why the ordination rites began with the calling of the names of the candidates and with their response, “Present.” This is not a mere roll call, like what we do in class. My dear ordinandi, when your names were called, it showed that God’s call is very personal. God calls you by name. God wants you. And God is very sure of who he is calling. Siguradong-sigurado ang Diyosnakayo ang tinatawagniya.
And when you responded, “Present,” it does not only imply that you are physically here. When you said, “Present,” you are telling God, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.”
The ordination rites began with vocation, and it will lead to mission. Through the laying on of hands and the prayer of the Church, through the vestments that will be donned on you, and the implements of ministry that will be entrusted to you, you are being sent. That is why we conclude the ordination rites with the greeting, “Peace be with you,” the greeting of the risen Lord to his fearful disciples locked in the upper room before sending them to mission. Later, we will also give you this greeting to assure you of Christ’s peace as you go to your mission. Christ’s peacegives usthe courage to go where God wants us to. Christ’s peaceenables us to face the many trials, oppositions, and even persecutions brought about by our fidelity to God.
From being called to being sent, from vocation to mission. This is the life of every minister and every follower of Jesus. In your particular way of lifeas Benedictine monks, Dom Martin, Dom Eugenio, and Dom Pio, you can live this out by being faithful to ora et labora. Prayer is nothing else but being called by God to communion and intimacy with him. Prayer is a vocation. When you pray, you respond to a God who calls and invites you to himself. And labora is nothing else but being sent to mission. It is God sending you to work in his vineyard. Let prayer, especially the Eucharist, be the powerhouse where you receive God’s strength to do your work. And let your work lead you to a more meaningful prayer and deeper relationship with God.
I join the Benedictine monks in thanking the Lord for the gift of these new priest and deacons to your community. And with you, I implore the maternal intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Montserrat, and Our Lady of Lourdes, and the prayers of our Holy Father, St. Benedict, for these our brothers so that, filled with the Holy Spirit, aware of God’s mercy, and following the examples of our Mother Mary and St. Benedict, they may be faithful in their vocation and zealous in their mission, that in all things God may be glorified. Amen. (Photo File/RCAM-AOC)