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Ordination Homily of Franc Cardinal Rodé

23 December 2006 – Priestly Ordination

His Eminence Most Reverend Franc Cardinal Rodé, C.M.
Prefect for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

“Sing to the Lord a new song
for he has done marvellous deeds.
(Ps 98:1)

The Lord is continually working wonders for his Church.
Homilia ordenaciones 2006
You, dear brothers, 55 Legionary of Christ Deacons, are one of those wonders. Soon you will receive the great gift of Presbyteral Ordination in a spirit of heartfelt expectation, prayerful silence and adoration which precedes the beautiful celebration of the Incarnation of the Word.

Through you, the Lord makes known his goodness to His people, His faithfulness to the Church, and his irrevocable love for the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ. And it is by God’s grace that you are what you are, in hopes that His grace not be vain in you. For you and with you, I would like simply to reflect on the image of the priest of Jesus Christ which the Church wants.


In the letter to the Hebrews, we read that Moses had firm faith, as if he saw the invisible (Heb 11:27). To the priest, the world of divine mystery should be transparent, as real at least as the visible world. He should look upon events, history and humanity from the vantage point of eternal realities; sub specie aeternitatis. He should speak from the vantage point of eternity. For this perspective is ever valid. Simone Weil wrote in 1942 from London: “So you want to be sure to be up to date? Then speak about eternity.” The words that find true echo in man’s heart are those that come from eternity. God’s people recognizes its true Shepherd in those words. People do esteem other traits in a priest. For example, he may be a great organizer or an able administrator. But above all they expect him to be a man of firm and living faith.

Taken from among men (Heb 5:1). In the second reading, we have heard that the priest is taken from among men. We remain men, with our own limitations and weaknesses, but our humanity is mysteriously taken up into Christ’s humanity. And our voice carries the sounds of His voice. Our hands carry out his saving actions. Out heart embraces and transmits the heartbeats of the Heart of Christ!


It is thanks to prayer that the priest’s faith grows ever more firm. Through prayer alone will he be in constant contact with the Lord. It is God who has sought him and found him first (cfr. Jn 15:16). He was the one to approach man, at first mysteriously and later in clearer ways. It is He who has chosen you and called you, been patient with you, so that you might entrust yourselves completely to Him.

We have been chosen by Christ Jesus and called to become unique and singular participants in His work. We are called to continue his work in our own flesh, in our lives. “Being a priest means becoming an ever closer friend of Jesus Christ with the whole of our existence. The world needs God - not just any god but the God of Jesus Christ, the God who made himself flesh and blood, who loved us to the point of dying for us, who rose and created within himself room for man. This God must live in us and we in him. This is our priestly call: only in this way can our action as priests bear fruit.” 1

You also, dear deacons, like us, your brothers in the priesthood, will be mysteriously taken up, in your lives, with your humanity, into the Mystery of the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, who is the heart of Christianity. And you are called to penetrate ever more deeply into this Mystery in prayer. The Holy Father Benedict XVI said last October 6th to members of the International Theological Commission: “Silence and contemplation have a purpose: they serve, in the distractions of daily life, to preserve permanent union with God.”

When people speak with a priest, they know if he lives in union with God or if he is distracted in his heart. This relationship of love with the Lord is nurtured with daily meditation on His Word, in the Liturgy of the Hours, by adoration of His continual Presence in the Eucharist, and through trustful prayer to Mary, His Mother. The summit and source of the Priest’s spiritual strength should be the daily celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice. The Eucharist brings us to make our very lives an offering to God. In Holy Mass, we celebrate the mystery of our death to the man of sin, which permits us to live in God. So Holy Mass is something new each day, since each day we can be born again in God’s heart. The Eucharist is always the hour of love “to the very end,” the moment of total self denial.

If we truly lived the Eucharistic mystery, we would be radically changed by it: “That which makes the Eucharist a terrifying mystery – wrote Cardinal Ratzinger – is the fact that the priest is authorized to speak with the “I” of Christ (in persona Christi). Becoming a priest, being a priest means continually moving forward along the road of this identification. We will never arrive to its end, but if we seek out the identification we are on the right path: on the path that leads to God and to our fellow men, along the path of love.” 2


The Word of God is as an ardent flame in his heart (Geremia). The word is given to him, the Word is entrusted to him! “Amidst all the rambling of our times, amidst the garrulous multiplication of words, make known those essential words, the Word that comes from God, the Word that is God.” (Benedict XVI). May the Word be so living and active within you that it cannot be held back, but must come forth from your lips with irresistible strength.

Free the Word, eliminate all that which weakens it; excessive attachment to oneself, a heart divided, exaggerated attention to material goods and all that which weighs us down. God’s Word requires total interior freedom, an unconditional belonging to the Lord and his Church. The Word of God cannot be chained. (2 Tim 2:9).


The joy of the heart is a fruit of rebirth; it is the victory over oneself and over the world – like faith is. Be happy to live, because living is a gift and a freedom. Be happy to be Christians and members of Holy Catholic Church. Be happy because the Lord has called us to the priesthood and has entrusted His Word of hope and consolation to us.

Be convinced that you are priests the world needs, because the world needs God, because without Him life has no meaning, because God is the only antidote to sadness and despair, because He is the only remedy to death, as the poet Pierre Emmanuel said: “One either lives for God or lives for death.” And since men do not live for death, Christ sends you to the crossroads of the earth to invite them to life. As priests, you will draw near to the joys and the hopes, to the sadness and anguish of the men of today, of the poor and above all of those who suffer; nothing of what is genuinely human can fail to find echo in your hearts 3. You will not be the world’s masters, but servants, to bring the Gospel of salvation to all.

Live joyfully! No difficulty, no weakness can ever be cause to abandon yourselves to sadness or despair. In a priest, the certainty of being immensely loved, with an eternal, unconditional love, must always prevail. And if your heart condemns you, remember that God is greater than our hearts and knows all things (1 Jn 3:20).

5. Amidst the numerous activities that will make up your daily life, never forget that you are called to be holy: For this is the will of God, your sanctification (1 Thes 4:3). So live as is proper among saints (Eph 5:3). And holiness is made up of faithfulness, in the humble fulfillment of daily duties, in submission to God’s will. That is the holiness available to everyone, knowing that this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure (2 Cr 4:17-18).

To conclude, I wish to turn with you all to the God of all consolation. Through the intercession of Mary our most tender Mother, Mother of Priests, we beg him:

Father 4, make these sons of yours
a faithful reflection of Your eternal love,
able to give themselves without reserve
so that your people might grow
in deep faith, sure hope and active charity.
Conform them to the image of Your Son,
might they accept everyone,
be servants out of love,
open and vigilant listeners
and humble and ardent heralds
of the Word which is life,
prophets of the Kingdom to come,
priests of the one and only sacrifice
shepherds that guide transparently
pilgrims on the way to the Fatherland of Your promise.
Fill them with Your Spirit, Father,
and make them always
collaborators of the joy of those you will entrust to them, today and forever,
credibly handing on the fathomless grace
of Your love to all.

1. Benedetto XVI, Omelia alla Santa Messa del Crisma, 13 aprile 2006, Giovedì Santo.
2. J. RATZINGER, Un chant nouveau pour le Seigneur, p. 233.
3. cfr. GS 1.
4. cfr. FORTE B., Il mendicante del cielo, p. 145-146.



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