CONSECRATION OF FATHER RICHARD J. EULER
The Most Reverend John J. Humphreys
Your Excellencies, Most Reverend Archbishops; Right Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Deacon and Clerics; dear family, friends and guests of our newly consecrated Bishop; Your Excellency, Most Reverend and dear Bishop Richard John Euler:
“Behold! How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity: Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, which ran down onto the hem of his garment.” (Ps., 132) In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Everything which we are witnessing today in fact speaks the essence of what David, the King, the Psalmist, the Prophet, has spoken to us in his 132nd Psalm. Holy Church has wisely chosen these words for the most sacred moment of this rite of Consecration - the very anointing of the Bishop’s head. As Aaron, the brother of Moses, was anointed by his younger brother at the command of almighty God very early in the spiritual union between God and his Jewish children, so we have anointed our newest Bishop with the Sacred Chrism that Holy Mother Church commands for the anointing of her bishops.
The whole message of this Mass and Rite is one of unity. We have the unity of the bishops who have come together to ensure that the rite has been complete and without flaw. We have the unity of our clergy coming together in respect and warmth for the well being of their newest spiritual Father. We have the unity in our friends and their children coming together in the belief that what we do here today signifies the continuation of our priestly orders, praying with us in faith that we have done is in fact pleasing to almighty God. Unity, indeed! The unity with Aaron, with Moses, with David, with the holy Apostles to whom this new Bishop can actually trace these orders that he has received this morning. He is now one in what we Catholics call the unbroken line of Apostolic Succession. Thanks be to God.
Now, how did all of this come about? Well, frankly, my age, for one thing. For another, a fear by our clergy that I could depart this world without another bishop in our lines. But why this man, Bishop Euler, among the newest of our clergy? Why was he elected to this post? And so very early in his priesthood? Let us be mindful of two significant parables spoken by our Blessed Lord: First, the parable of the householder who hired laborers for his vineyard, in which our Lord points out that some serve from the first hour, others from the eleventh. The householder puts all on the same level, saying “The last shall be first and the first shall be last, for many are called but few are chosen.” I cannot image a situation which comes closer to the image conveyed in St. Matthew (20: 1-6). He is the last of my priestly ordinands; and here he has been elected to become a first among our priests. I recommended Father Euler for election by our clergy because I believe him to be the most qualified among our clergy. There is no other reason. Apparently our clergy agree with me, because they have given him a unanimous vote. That bodes well, I think, for the future relationship among him and our other clergy.
Let me assure you that this has not been a popularity contest, and let me further assure you that there are others among our clergy who are personally dearer to me, and always will be. But in doing what we have done here today, I can honestly say that I have looked for God’s guidance and wisdom in this matter, more than I have in any other single event since I was ordained a priest more than forty years ago. I do indeed recognize the awesomeness of this act occurring here today, and my human limitations have made me tremble here in the presence of almighty God.
The second of our Lord’s parables which applies here, I believe, is the parable of the talents. It is the story of a wealthy man who must take a long journey from his home. He therefore calls in several of his trusted servants, giving each a portion of his goods - or talents - to manage during his absence. To one he gives five talents, to another two, to the third one. Each of those men manages the talents in a different way. Now of course the man to whom he gave the greatest number of talents is the man from whom he expects the greatest return.
We receive our talents from God Himself. And God expects the greatest return from those to whom He has given the most. You, Bishop Euler, I believe, have been given the most talents among our clergy, and therefore God has chosen you to multiply your talents for the good of His Church. This is expected of you, not by me, nor my brother bishops, not your brother priests, but by God Himself. And it is to Him to Whom you shall answer in this matter.
Bishop, you will have thrice wished me many more years in my episcopate before we leave this church, so also I wish as much for you. But let me also make it plain to all of you here, that I have not necessarily sung my swan song today. I was amused a week or so ago when someone asked me if I were looking forward to my retirement - and there even appeared to be a hint of a smile on the good lady’s face, as she asked, or so it appeared to me. If it be God’s will, I would like to die “with my boots on.” That of course is up to Him. But I am going to keep heading in that direction. I intend to remain at the helm - God help you all! I do, however, intend to take a bit more time with my wife in traveling. And Bishop Euler has assured me that he will be available as often as possible from his own schedule so that our own priests here will not be overburdened. The bottom line - as this clichéd laden society likes to say these days - is: I intend to be around for a while, although you may see a bit less of me!
Bishop Euler, let me turn my remaining thoughts to you. We have included in your Consecration booklet for your frequent meditation, some words ascribed to Thomas Á Kempis in the Imitation of Christ (Bk. III, Chap. 47). The hierarchy, in general, has opined repeatedly that there is a crown of thorns beneath every mitre. You have yet to wear that headdress, but it will be placed on your head toward the end of this Mass. The fact is, dear Bishop, if you do your job, you will indeed feel that there is a crown of thorns beneath your mitre. Á Kempis is speaking not only to bishops in this passage, but to every human being who aspires to be a true child of God. Beneath the hat of every human being - whether it be a bishop’s mitre, the hat of a soldier or a baker, or a lady’s Easter bonnet, there is a crown of thorns for every human being who intends to serve God to the fullest. Simply put, there is work to do, Bishop, and you must do it.
Working for God entails quite a bit of messy business in this world. But we must not retreat from it. Someone has also opined, “Working for God does not pay very much, but the retirement benefits are out of this world.” Indeed, that is where you will collect them, when you have left this world. There are no rewards here, nor should there be. “I will be thy reward,” God says through the words of Á Kempis. But God will only be our reward if we as bishops and priests and laity carry out the tasks God has assigned to us. There are no shortcuts. There is a great deal of drudgery. But when you love someone, drudgery can be turned into joy. God has commanded us to love Him with all our hearts, over and above every creature and thing in this universe. Too many of us either ignore that completely or feel that God has excepted some of us from that command. God is awesomely serious about the matter. He is a jealous God, in the best sense of that word. He will not be cheated by any man - bishop, cleric or the seemingly least creature on this planet.
We priests show our love for God best when we imitate His divine Son, of Whom you are today in the very highest sense the other self, by loving His children and showing them that love, never allowing them to be doubtful about where you stand in their lives. I can think of no greater responsibility and blessing than being a true pastor of souls. Pastor! Good Shepherd. Embrace each of Christ’s sheep even as Christ embraces us. No phoniness. No compromise. No whitened sepulchers. No half-heartedness. A bishop is not someone who sits behind a desk. A bishop is not someone who only directs his spiritual sons and daughters. A bishop is not someone who hides behind a ring, crozier and mitre. He is the face of Jesus Christ before the children of almighty God. It is not only the Holy Father who is to be known as the servus servorum Dei. It is every man on this earth who has been conferred with the fullness of God’s priesthood who is a servant of the servants of God.
Bishop, you will be pampered and served somewhat today by all of us. Many here will kiss your ring, and bend their knees, and ask your blessing. Enjoy it all, Bishop, in holy humility. Tomorrow, you must begin to serve. Do it with all your heart. Do it without hesitation. Do it because as the other self of Jesus Christ, there is no one else you wish to serve than He Who has chosen you to be a shepherd within His flock. And let us all be mindful of that admonition of Jesus Christ to each and everyone of us who is gifted with the sacred priesthood of the Son of the eternal Father: “You have not chosen Me; I have chosen you.”
May God bless you, dear Bishop, and may God bless every human being whose hearts and hands will be touched by your Episcopal ministry.
May God bless us all.
The Most Reverend John J. Humphreys, D.D.