As a cold snap worked its way across Colorado last Saturday morning, a divine warmth emanated from the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception as Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila ordained eight men to the transitional diaconate.
The men – Deacons Micah Flores, Luis Da Silva, Felipe Colombo, Michael Tran, Sam Munson, Miguel Mendoza, Trevor Lontine and Joe Bui – collectively represent a number of different countries and cultures, yet all are now one step closer to serving the universal Church as priests.
The second reading of the Mass, taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, was one in a series of readings the men chose for their ordination to mark this special moment in each of their lives, as well as their call as deacons.
“As we hear in the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we are to preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord,” Archbishop Aquila told the men. “And in the readings that you have chosen for today, the readings reflect first that our God has chosen each one of you in this time in history. He has called you.“
Archbishop Aquila reminded the men that they’ve done nothing to earn the vocation the Lord has called them to, their diaconate and priesthood should reflect this.
Your vocation is given to you by God. It is a call. And Jesus reiterates that in the Gospel reading, in which he reminds his disciples it was not you who chose me, but I who chose you,” the archbishop explained. “And in that is rooted the virtue of humility that is absolutely essential for every disciple, but most especially for deacons, priests and bishops, all that we have in our vocation and in the sacrament of holy orders is a gift from God. We do not merit. We do not earn it. It is pure gift.“
The archbishop warned the men not to fall into the trap of becoming disgruntled in their ministry to the people of God, but rather to maintain a disposition of joy and humility in all they do. The strength of their intimacy with the Lord can be measured in how well they emit joy, even during hard times, he told them.
“One way that you can tell if a priest is or a deacon is truly attached to Jesus Christ is if he is joyful, even in the midst of trial,” the archbishop said “There is nothing worse than a grouchy, angry, bitter deacon or priest and one who complains constantly. That is not of the Holy Spirit. It is not of Jesus Christ. It is the work of the evil one.”
Speaking of the mens’ vow to be celibate in their vocation, Archbishop Aquila offered words of encouragement. In today’s oversexualized society, where the truth about human sexuality is skewed, to be a celibate doesn’t make sense to those immersed in the ways of the world. And yet, it is precisely there where the new deacons are called to be counter-witnesses and be rooted in the truth, the archbishop said.
“You, too, today will make a promise of celibacy. And that, too, is a gift that is bestowed. It is a gift that you must desire in your heart of hearts. It is the gift of your total self to Christ and to the Church and to serve him and his bride,” Archbishop Aquila told the men. “And to be those who, in giving your life, stand as a counter witness to the world, especially in today’s world and the gift, the dignity, the beauty and the truth of human sexuality and complementarity of male and female, it is important for you to be deeply rooted in that truth: that God has created us in his image and likeness and that he will give to us even in the midst of temptation, even in the midst at times of loneliness. He will be there for us, for he has promised it to us.
“He is truly with us, and celibacy points to the truth that our time here is just a pilgrimage to our true homeland, the new Jerusalem, to our true homeland: eternal life with the father and Jesus Christ and the spirit,” he continued. “Do not white knuckle celibacy, because it will only get you into trouble. That means you’re depending on yourself and not on the Lord. Always depend on the Lord and beg him in your prayer for the grace that you need to be faithful.”
The archbishop commissioned the men to live their vocations with the love and joy that only Jesus Christ can offer.
“In his words, he has chosen you at this time in history to be his deacon, and he invites you to remain in his love and to love as he loves,” Archbishop Aquila concluded. “He tells you all of this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. May you taste the joy of Jesus Christ today and live it for the rest of your lives.”