Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 10:00 am
Cardinal André VINGT-TROIS, Archbishop of Paris, ordered the new permanent deacons for the Diocese of Paris during this celebration.
– Christophe SAMPRE
– François DEPREZ
– Jérôme WALEWSKI
– Michel JAN
– Jean NGUYEN
– Philippe SERS
– Patrice HELIOT
– Patrick DECLETY
Send upon them, Lord, the Holy Spirit: through him, may they be fortified with the seven gifts of thy grace, to faithfully fulfill their Ministry. Grow in them the Evangelical virtues: whether they are animated by sincere charity, that they take care of the sick and the poor, that they show an authority full of measure and a great purity of heart, that they strive to be docile to the spirit. By their faithfulness to your commandments and the example of their conduct, may they be a model for the Holy people; by giving the testimony of a pure conscience, that they remain firm and steadfast in Christ. By imitating thus your son Jesus come to serve, and not to be served, that they get to share his glory in heaven. [...]
Receive the Gospel of Christ, which you have the mission to announce. Be careful to believe in the word that you will read, to teach what you believed, to live what you have taught.
Excerpt from the Consecratory prayer of deacons
More than 130 deacons have been ordained for 30 years in the Diocese of Paris. Today there are 96 deacons in Paris, attached to 54 parishes.
Permanent deacons are mostly married men, some, however, have made the choice of celibacy. Placed in the professional world, they live their Ministry in contact with men and women, with whom they testify of the attentive presence of the Church. Often, their commitment leads them to join the poorest, the sick, the marginalized. They live it in communion with the Bishop whose mission they receive and in collaboration with the pastors.
The Mission of the Deacon has three dimensions: the service of charity, the service of the word, the service of the liturgy.
Like priests, deacons are called to be men of prayer. They draw from the Office of Psalms and personal meditation the fecundity of their service. The Deacons may, like the priests, give the sacrament of baptism and receive the consent of the spouses at a wedding. But they can not celebrate the other sacraments.
Homily of Cardinal Andre Twenty-three
Brothers and sisters,
The diaconal ordination we are celebrating this morning is illuminated by three events in the life of the Church that are taking place at this very moment. The first is the feast of Saints Denis, rustic and Éleuthère, founders of our local church.
The second event is the Synod of African bishops gathered in Rome, to which I participate for my greatest joy. It allows me to better discover the fertility of the Gospel through space and cultures and to better understand how the power of the Word produces its fruit even today.
Finally, the third event, the canonization tomorrow in Rome by Jeanne Jugan, founder of the little sisters of the poor.
These three seemingly unrelated events, however, have a very profound unity. All three manifest the vitality of the mission entrusted by Jesus to his Church.
Indeed, we see today the fruits of the proclamation of the Gospel made by our founders, Saint Denis and his companions. Many of our missionaries, priests, religious and laity have in turn made this good news fruitful for over a century in Africa.
Finally we contemplate in the example of Jeanne Jugan, the fruits of charity at work in the heart of a simple woman who discovered how the love of God acting in it pushed her well beyond her own means and her condition, to take initiatives for the poor to be evangelized.
And our particular Church, our Church in Paris, is called today to take its place in this mission story. This is what I invited her to do by calling the pastoral councils of our parishes to implement the project "parishes in mission".
This morning's Assembly is a sign of the vitality of the Church's mission. Many of you have come to surround the new deacons, to which you are United by family ties, professional relations, friendship networks, or because you belong to the parish where they come from.
And all together, whatever our faith and our degree of conviction, we are constituted as witnesses. We can account for what the strength of the word of God produces in our society of the 21st century, when men engaged in their professional lives, in their family life and in their community, are called and respond to be ordained deacons, i.e. servants.
They do not propose to become the Super-militants whose will be dreamed to replace fewer priests and to allow us to continue to live comfortably our Christian life as if nothing was.
I do not order them to ensure the comfort of their community.
I order them to be the sacraman witnesses of Christ the servant, that is, they put all the forces and the time they have at the service of this mission of the Church to be the servant of the Gospel and of the men of our time.
That is why their ordination does not consecrate them simply to carry out the few tasks entrusted to them. It devotes them to be a sign throughout their existence.
The approach and the response to which the wives of those who are married were invited earlier show that the deacon, to resume by correcting a little of a formula of Saint Paul, must already be "a good father of the family".
That is to say that his diaconal ordination is not for the first purpose to extract it from the family reality that is his, and to make him a spouse or an absent father. Likewise, his diaconal consecration does not disinvest him from his professional life or from his social commitments, as if, having become a servant of the Gospel, he could no longer compromise himself in the tasks of this world.
Deacons are servants in their families, servants in their professional lives, servants in their social life. And the sacramental sign they give is precisely that this family and social network and this fabric of activities and human commitment that constitutes their lives are visibly and sacramentially associated with the offering of Christ in the liturgical proclamation of the Gospel and the liturgical participation in the Eucharist. Baptized as confirmed, they are more ordained to manifest the close link between the praise that the people of God is invited to give to their Lord, and the human realities through which their existence is fulfilled.
Thus in a way that is not always very clear or very easy to explain and conceptualise, but which is yet real and profound, the offering that Jesus makes of his life on the cross diffuses his sacramental reality through the society in which we Live.
In the offering of the good shepherd who gives his life for his sheep manifested in the Eucharistic Celebration, the Ministry of deacons maintenance as a visible and permanent link between Christ the head and pastor of his Church, and the people of God gathered, figure the gathering of mankind.
That this deep unit does not live without a few tensions is quite natural. But these tensions are part of the gift that we are invited to make of ourselves, and are indeed not more demanding than many others, which we nevertheless bear and which manifest that human life is complicated and human being limited.
But so many men and women endure important constraints in order to achieve projects in their social and professional lives, if others, or the same, are able to sustain much suffering to protect the unity of their families and allow their children to grow up in a serene and loving climate, you too may, through the grace of God, endure some tensions to manifest the loving presence of Christ to all men.
Dear friends, in ordering you Deacon I associate you directly with the Apostolic Ministry entrusted to me. I associate you with all those who have preceded you, who are widely represented on both sides of this choir, and who for a number have joined the father's House, as Dominique d'arras, which today is the anniversary day of death.
All together we are associated with the same mission which is the proclamation of the good news to the men of this time and manifest how the Gospel can transform the life of a man, the life of a family, the way of being in society, the way of getting include in work, in leisure, in business and even sometimes in finance!
We are coupled with the same task of manifesting that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, that he knows the father and that he makes us known.
We are engaged in the Mission of the Church and this is our joy, as the Prophet Isaiah reminded us earlier. We Exult with joy because of each of our lives, so poor that we can judge them, God makes the instrument with which he will show men the way of salvation.
Together we are called to be visible signs on this path, together we are called to serve the people of God who witness in the world of what love is stronger than anything.
The figure of Jeanne Jugan, servant of the abandoned elderly, is given to enlighten the beginnings of your life as a deacon. We are called to make us servant of those who are unsung, abandoned, in suffering and in sorrow.
We are not invited to come to them to maintain their lamentation, but to be a sign of love and to bring them hope.
May God give each of you the joy of being this sign of love in today's world.
† André Cardinal Twenty-three