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The Lord always provides

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Oct. 11, 2017

Bishop LaValley’s homily
at the deacon ordination
Oct. 7 at St. Mary’s Cathedral

The diaconate is not just one among many ministries, but rather, as Blessed Paul VI said, this ministry should truly be a “moving force” for the diakonia of the Church.

I see the Permanent Deacons in the Diocese as a moving force in meeting our diocesan priorities and enhancing the vibrancy and vitality of our parish families in our beloved North Country.  Soon, with the laying on of hands, as I ask Almighty God to draw near, I will pray: “…in your eternal providence, you make provision for every age.” 

My sisters and brothers, today’s celebration is a beautiful provision the Lord is making for the present and future of the Church of Ogdensburg.  The Lord always provides.  May God be praised!!

As you know, with the sacrament of Orders, the deacon receives a special “configuration to Christ-- Servant, Head and Shepherd of the Church” through the laying on of hands of the bishop and the prayer of consecration. 
The deacon is ordained specifically for the exercise of a ministry proper to him that requires a spiritual availability of complete dedication.  That means there are no “part time” deacons, inasmuch as they are “ministers of the Church.” 

The Diaconate is not a profession, but a mission!

Deacon candidates, like the Apostles, you too must feel impelled to proclaim by word and deed the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

You, like the early disciples, must experience the need to do good, to give of yourself to others in the Name of the Crucified and Risen Jesus—to bring God’s word into the lives of His holy people. 

The integrity of your ordained ministry, your ability to communicate the Gospel effectively, will depend on your adherence to the faith of the Apostles.

This is a day of special joy.  But let it also be a day of special resolve.  Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation.   But, not on your own terms.  Sometimes, perhaps out of frustration with those who question “my terms,” I can develop the attitude, “if you don’t like it, go to another parish.”  What a terrible contradiction to the mission charged to all the ordained! As Paul told the Corinthians: “For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.” 

Dear brothers, as ministers of Jesus Christ, who came among His disciples as one who served, do the will of God from your heart: serve all people in love and joy as you would the very Lord Himself.  There is absolutely nothing Christ-like about a joy-less, dour, rigid, whiny disciple.  No, our ministry should be inspired by resurrection hope and joy. 

Never allow yourself to be turned away from the hope offered by the Gospel.  As our diocesan sacred purpose proclaims, we are Christ-led, Christ-fed, and Hope-filled.

When discussing Holy Orders as one of the sacraments “at the service of communion,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the two sacraments, Orders and Marriage, “are directed towards the salvation of others: if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so.” 
My holiness is either strengthened or found wanting to the degree that I am engaged in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  My personal holiness depends on my service to others. 

The Sacrament of Marriage and the Sacrament of Holy Orders confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God. (cf. CCC, 1534) Your mission is especially vital through your direct presence in the various spheres of family, work, school, in addition to pastoral structures.

This is especially an opportunity and obligation for deacons in your secular professions to boldly proclaim and witness to the Gospel of life and joy.

My brothers in Christ, in your diaconal ministry, your wives and the responsibilities that arise from the sacrament of Holy Matrimony do not play second fiddle. The sacred bond that your wife and you established on your wedding day is to be strengthened, not neglected as you fulfill your diaconal responsibilities. 

The Church expresses immense gratitude to our wives for the gift of your husbands to the Church’s sacred orders. 

You, dear brothers belong to the life of the Church that goes back to saintly deacons, like Lawrence, and before him, Stephen and his companions, whom the Acts of the Apostles consider “deeply spiritual and prudent” (Acts 6:3)

You are meant to be a living sign of the servanthood of God’s Church. 

Since deacons are ministers of the word, the Church urges you to constant reading and diligent study of the Sacred Scriptures.

In your lives as deacons you are called to hear, guard and do the Word of God, in order to proclaim it worthily and effectively. Daily pray the Liturgy of the Hours.  This prayer should inform your whole prayer life since deacons, as ministers, intercede for the entire Church. 

Participate at Mass frequently, even daily, if possible, and spend time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Purify your souls frequently through the Sacrament of Penance having prepared for it worthily through a daily examination of conscience. 

Possess a deep, filial love and veneration for the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. As you strive to be the servant of the servants of God, turn to Mary, as she continues to proclaim: “I am the handmaid of the Lord.” (Lk 1:38) In the example of her servanthood, see the perfect model of our own call to the discipleship of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the service of His Church.

With great pride and gratitude, I join the Church of Ogdensburg confidently believing that your ministry of Word and Charity will bear much fruit.  Serve the Church with an ardent love. Go out to all the world and teach all nations.  Sing to the Lord a new song; Sing to the Lord; bless His Name!

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