Homily for Ordination of Regen Luna as Catholic Priest
[This homily was not delivered; forgotten, left at home, was replaced by an ad lib message]
In one of my past careers I owned and operated a family restaurant in Ohio, and studied restaurant management at Cornel University. I well remember the teaching of Professor Bernatsky, “The amount of space you have in the back of the restaurant for kitchen, preparation, and storage should be equal to the amount of space in the front for customer seating.”
When I taught church management in the MCC seminary in Los Angeles and gave church management workshops to the various parishes and their boards, I applied Professor Bernatsky’s teaching in a spiritual way. “The amount of time you spend in ministry should be backed up by an equal amount of time spent in prayer and spiritual reading.”
Today we are celebrating a momentous occasion in the life of the church and in the life of our beloved Pastor Regen. But let us not forget for one minute, that all the learned studies in theology and perhaps all the good works for God’s people can quickly evaporate to nothing if the work of the Christian ministry is not backed up by unceasing prayer – yes, that’s how Jesus and St. Paul put it, “Pray at all times.”
Pastor Regen, if I were going to give only one piece of advice only to you as a new priest today, that would be it, “Pray at all times.”
(To the people) I know Pastor Regen to be gifted preacher of the word of God. I know him to work tirelessly for the good of the people God has given him. I know that he knows when Jesus called him “Come, follow me,” that Jesus was not merely asking him to be a gifted preacher and tireless worker, but to be LIKE Jesus – who is not only meek and humble of heart, but the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The old Latin phrase “Tu es sacerdos in aeternum,” “You are a priest forever” is just as true today as it was in days of old when knights were bold and spoke Latin.
Pastor Regen, you are a priest forever. You are another Christ; in Latin they call that “alter Christus.” Can there be any higher calling? Can there be any more precious state in life? Of course, you will give praise to God for this great privilege.
Pastor, I want to address most of my words today to you. But as a priest of Jesus Christ, you will allow me a moment to remind every person here of their sublime status as a child of God who can say with St. Paul, “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.” Each of us is indeed filled with divine life. The Holy Spirit lives in us. John, the beloved of Jesus, even tells us that divine life is intensified by love. “Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” We all have an awesome relationship with the divine.
But, Pastor Regen, today the Holy Spirit, on this Pentecost Sunday, comes over you, comes into you with a new flooding of Divine Life to make your ministry fruitful for the work you have been called to do, for the Word you have been called and ordained to proclaim. Our readings today give us the message quite clearly. In his priestly discourse at the Last supper Jesus made it clear that he wanted his disciples to bear much fruit. And that means you. That will happen only through the ceaseless prayer I spoke of earlier.
Ask the Holy Spirit to consecrate your mind, your imagination, your memory, ad most of all to bring you to know your brother Jesus, understand his Gospel, and make you like him in service to the people God presents to you, but most often through the fruits of your own networking. Pray for an increase of wisdom, knowledge, understanding and right judgment.
May this prayer be always on your lips, in your mind,
Turn to Jesus. He is with you; walk with Him, talk with him: “Let your Spirit be upon my entire life that I may be strong with Your power, Wise with Your wisdom, and beautiful with Your love, “Lord Jesus, they called you Master, but you said you are Friend,help me to be a friend to Your people. I live with you by me, with me, in me. Help me remember the great value of the lives of the people, of the souls of your precious ones
I serve in the work you have assigned me. Guide me in patience, and lead me in the real meaning of love. Keep sarcasm, far from my tongue, and show me the way to bring Your truth to their life with love that never stops caring because they are Your people, Jesus.”
With that kind of love, Pastor Regen, you will be an alter Christus and a sacerdos in aeternum who will bring peace in troubled times and be a happy shepherd for a happy flock.
Anointing of Hands in Ordination of Fr. Regen Luna
[Adapted from Roman Catholic ordination ritual.]
Be pleased, O Lord, To consecrate and hallow These hands (anointing with blessed oil) By this anointing and our blessing That whatsoever they bless, May be blessed, And whosoever they bless, May be filled with your Holy Spirit; May these consecrated hands, Bring healing and peace
And carry out your works, O Lord, To sanctify your people, And bring fruit to the work, You have called Pastor Regen to do, Amen