Mönch und Diakon
28. Juni 2012
Englische Predigt von Weihbischof William Shomali zur Diakonenweihe von Bruder Daniel am Vorabend des Festes der Apostelfürsten Petrus und Paulus (28. Juni 2012)
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you, joyfully gathered here to participate at the ordination of Brother Daniel. I greet Abbot Gregory Collins, the Prior of the community and all the Benedictine Monks who support the church of Jerusalem by their prayer and example of evangelical life.
Generally the deacon has the following duties: to proclaim the Gospel, to dispense the Eucharist, to give instruction in holy doctrine, and to preside over Baptisms, marriages, funerals and public prayer. A deacon also carries out acts of charity in name of the Bishop. But a Benedictine friar will not have all these pastoral duties. His main functions will be the daily prayer, the humble service of the community and of the guests who come to visit the house since Hospitality is an important feature of the Benedictine life where the guest is welcomed as if he is Christ himself.
Within minutes we will start the rite of ordination, but beforehand, the bishop will ask you, dear brother Daniel, some important questions:
One of them will concern your readiness to be a man of prayer.
We know that the liturgy of the hours occupies a central place in the life of a Monastic community. This prayer is intended to the glorification of the Lord and to intercede for the needs of the church and of the world.
Despite the fact that you will live within the walls of a monastery, your prayer will connect you to the needs of the whole world. Through this important daily exercise you can help, as an example, the cause of peace and reconciliation more than politicians can do since you rely on the power of the Lord, risen from the dead and always alive among his church.
Another question will be about your readiness to preach the word of God by words and deeds.
A Monk is fundamentally a hearer of the word of God. You practice it on a daily basis in the lectio divina. Lectio divina is listening to the Word of God, accompanied by the great voices of the tradition of the Fathers and Saints, and is also a prayer, guided and sustained by this Word. As the first motive for a monk to enter the monastery is the quest of God, it is in the lectio divina that the Lord is sought and found. Thanks to this marvelous practice, you learn better who the lord is and what his Will is. In the same time you will be asked to proclaim the good news by your mouth and your life.
I hope that the community will ask you to practice this marvelous mission of preaching. When you do that, brother, try to prepare very well. Try to live what you preach, and make your homily the proclamation of good and joyful news and not a boring exercise. In this era of new evangelization, the homily deserves utmost care on all levels.
Another question will touch your readiness to live a celibate life without reproach, following the example of Christ.
Today the commitment to chastity is criticized and contested especially after the scandal of the clergy in some parts of the world. These sins happened because chastity for the sake of the kingdom is often wrongly understood as if it were a mere repression of the senses, while it is a fruit of an absolute love of Christ and of the church.
“Celibacy is both a sign and a motive of pastoral charity, and a special source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. By living in this state with total dedication, moved by a sincere love for Christ, you are consecrated to him in a new and special way. By this consecration you will adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart; you will be more freely at the service of God and mankind.” (from the liturgy of ordination)
The words of Saint Benedict "Christo omnino nihil praeponere" [prefer nothing to Christ] express the precious treasure of monastic life. Love is the unique justification of celibacy. Here I bring to your mind the three questions asked by Jesus to Peter in today Gospel: do you love me more than these? Yes Lord, answered Peter, you know that I love you. Monastic life consists of living a passionate love of Christ and of his church. Although Peter denied Jesus, his confession of love was enough to obtain forgiveness and to make from him the head of the church and the Vicar of Christ on earth.
After these questions, the moment of your ordination draws closer but before the imposition of the hands, there is need to ask the intercession of all the saints, to whom we are united during every liturgical celebration. Therefore, you will prostrate before the altar, symbolizing your humility and dependence on God's grace. The bishop will invite the assembly to join in praying the Litany of the Saints to ask God to strengthen you.
Afterwards, the Bishop will lay his hands on your head to signify the conferral of the Holy Spirit and to renew the spirit of holiness within you. He will pray:
Send forth upon him, Lord, we pray, the Holy Spirit, that he may be strengthened by the gift for your grace for the faithful carrying out of the work of the ministry," the bishop will say. "Look with favor on this servant of yours, who ministers at your holy altar and whom we humbly dedicate to the Office of Deacon.
At this very evening hour, the Church of Jerusalem celebrates the Seventh anniversary of Pope Benedict’s pontificate. Our Holy Father commented on the following aspect of the monastic life with these deep words, which I use to conclude my homily:
By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God's glory, …. where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final "revelation of the sons of God" (Rm 8: 19). When monks live the Gospel radically, when they dedicate themselves to integral contemplative life in profound spousal union with Christ, monasticism can constitute … a remembrance of what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before his love.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are now ready to start the liturgy of ordination and ask your prayers for our candidate and for his community.