On May 21st, A.D. 2005 at
ORDINATION OF FATHER MINIAK AND FATHER EULER
MAY 21, 2005
Right Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Honored Guests, dear family and friends of Father Miniak and Father Euler, dearly beloved in Christ, Father Miniak and Father Euler:
“The Charity of God is diffused within our hearts by His Spirit’s dwelling within us. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within me bless His holy name.” (Rom: V, 5.)
Nothing on this earth anywhere, at any time, speaks more of the abounding love of God than does holy Mass. It is God’s perfect gift to His children on earth, and it is the perfect act of sacrifice that His children are able to return to Him through that infinite love which God so generously infuses into our souls. Today, my dear Fathers Miniak and Euler, you join the millions of priests throughout time, who have come to Christ through what we Catholics call Apostolic Succession. Moments from now, you will begin to offer this holy Mass with me. No longer practice, no longer “dry,” as you have been doing these months and years in preparation for this day, since God first called you.
This is real. This is the Mass. This is the unbloody sacrifice of Calvary that Christ has given to us through the Holy Ghost, Who now infuses us with His love. This is essentially why you were ordained: to offer holy Mass as an alter Christus - another Christ - from this day forward. It is my prayer that you will understand what it is that you now possess. You possess Jesus Christ - “Not I, but Christ in me,” says Saint Paul - in a perfection not given even to the angels, nor to His own holy mother. (Gal: II: 20.) You were ordained to offer Mass. Do that daily, as often as humanly possible. Do not tell me your schedule is too full, your workload is too heavy, your strength sapped from so many other things. Those are the things of the world. You are supposed to be in the world, but not of it. And take a good look at the beautiful sign above our sacristy table and make it your own. It came from the sacristy of an elderly priest, a Father Gedra, of Alexandria, Virginia, about the time I was ordained a priest. It reads: “Priest of God say this Mass, as if it were your first Mass, as if it were your last Mass, as if it were your only Mass.” Those words may help you to become a good priest. Take them to heart!
This particular Mass of Whit-Saturday is so rich with the treasures of both God and the Church’s written words of wisdom, love and generosity. I could have chosen a line from nearly any part of this Mass as the theme for this sermon. There are so many unique things here. Today, for example, this is the first time I have ordained two married men at the same Mass. Did you hear those words of the Gospel of Saint Luke? And I ask this now of all of you who do not read the Scriptures, and who do not know these passages, which are often veiled from our eyes. How many times in your life have you come to Mass on the Saturday of Pentecost week? When would you otherwise hear that Gospel?
Jesus has just come from the synagogue. He has done battle with the devil himself, in driving that evil spirit out of a man - yes, within the very precincts of the temple of God - Jesus has driven the devil from one possessed. He is exhausted - exhausted in body, in spirit and in emotions. He has now come to Saint Peter’s house, where he is confronted with the illness of Peter’s wife’s mother, his mother-in-law (socrus, as we say in Latin). Our Lord cures her illness and she immediately waits on Jesus and the Apostles. They are fed and given all the attention that mothers-in-law give!
Most of you didn’t even know that Saint Peter was married, much less that he had a real, live mother-in-law at the very time that he was one of our Lord’s Apostles. All of the Apostles were married, we believe, with exception of Saint John. And our Lord and Saint John were in fact the odd men out! Marriage was common; it was uncommon not to be married! Somewhere along the line of course, holy Church imposed a law of celibacy for most priests, although I would point out that there has never been a time in the history of the Church when there were not some married men, however few in number. It is of course the Church’s right, and maybe even her duty under the appropriate circumstances to impose celibacy. But let us keep it in proper perspective. It may also be a right and a duty to revert to the ordination of married men, when the Church cannot in fact raise up enough celibate men to the priesthood.
Let me say just a word about that celibacy. I have heard that word until it becomes almost an obsession with some. “I am a celibate priest, I have been told so often.” Well, goody for you! Celibate means single - but that is all it means. Where the priesthood is the subject, I am more concerned about chastity. One may be celibate, but is he chaste? We have certainly learned in recent years that entirely too many celibate priests are not in fact chaste men. We read about it every day.
We are all required to be chaste! No one is exempt from chastity, whether one is heterosexual, homosexual, celibate or married. Each one of us is required by the law of God to be chaste - absolutely chaste! The only one of the four that I have mentioned who is entitled to experience a chaste sexual relationship is one who is married. All others are expected by God - not the Church, not by so called Church policy or papal edict, encyclical or motu proprio -- but by God Himself. God made that law. And, like God, that law is immutable.
Under the reckoning of the “old” calendar, today is also the feast of Saint Boniface, the Apostle to Utrecht, Saint Boniface was Christened Winfrid in his native England. While we call him the Apostle to Utrecht, the See from which Old Roman Catholicism comes, he was first known as the Apostle to Germany. And his choosing another Roman or Italian name gives us a clear picture of the man. A “do-gooder” for the Church: bone facio, “good at doing.” This saintly man did in fact do good for the Church all his life, as a priest, which he preferred to be, and as a bishop. He did not even arrive in Utrecht until he was older than I by a year, after having served God from his youth. He had determined to become a monk at the age of five. All his life, he lived simply, modestly and prayerfully. He was truly a saint at living. Father Miniak and Father Euler, your apostolic orders may very well come from that martyr saint. You would do well to read his life, make it your own, and to emulate it.
We have also read in this Mass, something from the prophet Joel. It is Joel who made known to God’s people, the Jews, the person of the Holy Ghost, often overlooked in both Jewish and Christian studies. God said to Joel, “I will pour forth My spirit upon you.” That Spirit is the Holy Ghost. Joel speaks of the end of the world as we know it. He speaks of the coming of Christ. He becomes quite personal for us. “Your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions.” Father Miniak and Father Euler, I would place you both about in the middle. You have seen your visions - late visions for both of you. We would call you late vocations. You are among the oldest men I have ordained. Morover, Joel also says you will dream dreams.
In recent years, you have dreamed the dream of the priesthood. And God has made that possible for you. You are true priests today. As with me and others, you will be called upon to explain yourself, the so called “differences.” “Are you recognized?” What is your authority? How can you be a priest, given all the odds against your being one? There are two ways to find the proper answers to these queries.
First, read and study. And here I would draw your attention to my very favorite work next to the Bible, the Imitation of Christ. One of the first and greatest admonitions we read in the Imitation is this: “O truth! my God! make me one with Thee in everlasting charity.” (I, iii.) That passage is speaking in particular about our quest to learn, what we read. Continuing: “Truly, when the day of judgment comes, it will not be asked of us, what we have read, but rather what we have done; not what fine discourses we have made, but how like religious” - priests - “we have become.” Further, the author asks, “How many who take little care in serving God are ruined through the vain learning of the world.” (Ibid.) “He is truly most learned who does the will of God and forsakes his own will.” (Ibid.) The world is full of learned priests, who seem to have very little room for God and living the Gospel message. We find them in Rome, we find them in this country, we find them among ourselves.
The second means of finding answers to all the baneful queries that ask, not to learn, but actually to challenge us, is probably really the first: Prayer, gentlemen, prayer. You must be prayerful in everything you do. Say your Morning Offering daily, and mean it. You stand in the place of Jesus Christ. Be one with Him, be prayerful, as He was as a man. Not as a show, but as a way of life. Pray your rosary, pray the Stations of the Cross, not just in Lent, but daily, whenever possible. Offer your Mass, say whatever parts of the breviary you are able to say. Develop personal devotions. Seek the saints; make them your companions. Talk to them as I am talking to you now. They are as human as you; they were as sinful as you are now - some even more so. But each learned to place his hand on the plow and not look back. (Lk: IX, 62.) That is why they became saints; and that is how you will become saints. “Be ye perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt: V, 48.)
Dear Fathers, please do not use that WWJD thing (“What would Jesus do?”) in my presence or in the presence of the souls entrusted to your care. That is plain Protestant gibberish! Just days ago I read it as coming from the mouth of one who was described as a Catholic seminarian. He obviously objected to what we would rightfully expect Pope Benedict XVI NOT to give in to the pressures of the media - as well as to inane and stupid priests and seminarians - that is, to allow the use of condoms for the avoidance of AIDS.
The Pope has no more control over such things than I have. That is one of those immutable things that I spoke about earlier. What would Jesus do? He did, He will do what He has always done. He will live by His Father’s word, the same word to which He holds us. That word never changes with the winds of time. Jesus does not have one word for A.D 33 and another for A.D. 2005. There are certain words that never change for the time. There are of course words that do change with time. The Church has spelled those out for us over time. She did that when she changed the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday - for her own good reason. She changed a host of dietary laws in the Old Testament, also under her own authority to “bind and to loose.” (Matt: XVI, 19.) She changed her own expression of certain fallacies that had been spread abroad by those in the Church unskilled in the sciences - as in the famous Galileo case, for which she is still hounded by the biased and ignorant media. In fact, we must also be quick to point out that that matter did not touch upon matters of faith and morals, nor matters of doctrine.
My dear Fathers, virtus stat in medio. Virtue -- reason, sensibility, propriety - in all important matters, lies somewhere in the middle. Be not an extremist. Never be compromising with matters of faith and morals, of course. But do not approach people with a law book in your hand. Our Lord so carefully admonishes us about this.
Try to become a pillar of virtue. At your age, you will have fewer years to set the world on fire. Set that fire first within yourselves. Love Christ. Love His Mass. Love His children. Admonish them plainly, but with the greatest of Christ’s living charity. Continue to educate yourselves, for God’s sake. Just because your are now ordained priests, do not close your books. Open them wider, fuller -- to theology, to liturgy, to canon law, to protocol, to the sociological and philosophical sciences of the secular world world. Read widely, to learn for yourself, not to let the world know how brilliant you have become. There is much for you to do ahead. In this commencement day season, this is your commencement day, in a sense. Commencement never means an “end”; it always means a beginning.”
May this day, this day on which I wish to tell you even so much more than what I have tried to say here, is the first day of your truly falling in love with your other self - with Jesus Christ, your alter ego, and with His most holy mother. My dear Fathers, today you have been given the priesthood; tomorrow you begin to become priests. That doing you will do on your own, but you will always have the help of our blessed Lord and His most holy mother, if you will truly try to be their sons.
May God bless us all.
The Most reverend John J. Humphreys
Our Lady of Good Hope Old Roman Catholic Church
5501 62nd Avenue, Pinellas park, Florida