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October 15, 2010
Homily: Priesthood Ordination for the New Mount Carmel Community
Bishop Conley delivered the following homily during the Priesthood Ordination of Brother Michael Mary of the Trinity, M. Carm. and Brother Joseph Marie of Jesus, M. Carm., for the New Mount Carmel Community, at the Cathedral in Cheyenne, Wyoming. To learn more about this order of cloistered Carmelite Monks, visit http://www.newmountcarmelfoundation.org/. To financially support the community, consider purchasing their line of coffee products, branded "Mystic Monk Coffee." Learn more at http://www.mysticmonkcoffee.com/.
Father Father Daniel Mary, Prior of the Carmelite Monastery, Reverend Monsignors, Reverend Fathers, Carmelite brothers and brother seminarians from Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, dear family members of Brother Michael Mary of the Trinity and Brother Joseph Marie of Jesus, friends of the Carmelite Monks of Immaculate Heart of Mary, my dear brothers and sisters is Christ, today the Church Universal celebrates the feast day of the great Carmelite mystic and Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila. The introit for today’s Mass, which we just heard chanted is taken from the Psalms and reminds us: “God gave her wisdom and great discernment, and a heart wide as the sand on the sea shore.”
In that same wisdom, a gift of the Holy Spirit, and with prayerful discernment and generous hearts these two men, these two brothers of ours will be ordained to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ, the one high and eternal priest of God.
The vocation of a priest is a mystery. And the vocation of every priest is filled with grace and wonder. It is particularly significant in the history of the Church that these two soon to be ordained priests are the first priests ordained for a new monastic community of contemplative monks located in the Rocky Mountains of Northern Wyoming.
A new monastery of Carmelite monks who seek to perpetuate the charism of the Blessed Virgin Mary, living under her mantle as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a Marian life prescribed by the primitive Carmelite Rule and the ancient monastic observance, is cause for great rejoicing in Holy Mother Church.
Seven years ago today, on October 15, 2003 on the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Brother Michael Mary of the Trinity was clothed as a novice, the first novice of this new monastic community, thus marking the founding day, and joining Father Daniel Mary Prior as a co-founder of the Carmelite Monks of the I.H.M. Five years later, again on this very day October 15, 2008 Brother Michael Mary of the Trinity made his perpetual profession.
Brother Joseph Marie of Jesus, joined Father Daniel Mary and Brother Michael Mary in the summer of 2004 and made his perpetual vows on September 8, 2009, the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This band of three happy monks, consecrated to God through vows of obedience, chastity and poverty have sought to live a life of prayer, solitude, penance and strict separation from the world. They have dedicated themselves to interceding for the Church and the world, and thus proclaiming the very essence of the Carmelite vocation going back to those first monks who gathered together on the Holy Mountain of Carmel many centuries ago. Like the other great Thesese who is also a doctor of the Church, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, whose feast day we celebrated just a few weeks ago, these monks seek “to be love in the heart of the Church.” As the heart circulates blood throughout the whole body, so the Carmelite is called to circulate grace throughout the mystical body of Christ, the Church!
Today is, indeed, a historic day in the life of the Church, in the life of this new monastic community, in the life of the Diocese of Cheyenne and in the life of the world.
It is obvious that the Lord is about a great and mysterious work here. For He has touched the hearts of many other young men whom we see here today, postulants and novices in great number who have answered His call to serve in this great adventure of love.
“So my choice was made and there upon discernment was given me; the prayer once uttered, a spirit of wisdom came upon me.”
These words from the first lines of the reading we just heard from the Book of Wisdom remind us that this is a work of God, a work of prayer, a work of grace!
The letter to the Hebrews tell us: “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was.”
My dear brothers in Christ, heed these words carefully for this is the essence of the priesthood of Christ into which you are about to be ordained.
Be mindful of your unworthiness of this great gift, “for we hold this treasure in earthen vessels.”
For we are men, not angels in humble supplication before almighty God, we beg for God’s mercy for ourselves and for the whole world because we, too, are sinners in need of conversion. With a burning love of God and a missionary zeal for souls, the Carmelite monk immolates his life on the altar for the Holy Roman Catholic Church and the entire world.
Blessed John Henry Newman, the great 19th century Anglican convert to the Catholic Church and recently beatified in England by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in a very famous sermon entitled “Men, not Angels, the Priests of the Gospel” spoke these beautiful words about the priest:
“He dwells on our altars Himself, the Most Holy, the Most High, in light inaccessible, and Angels fall down before Him there; and out of visible substance and forms He chooses what is choicest to represent and to hold Him. The finest wheat-flour, and the purest wine, are taken as His outward symbols; the most sacred and majestic words minister to the sacrificial rite; altar and sanctuary are adorned decently or splendidly, as our means allow; and the priests perform their office in befitting vestments, lifting up chaste hearts and holy hands/yet those very priests, so set apart, so consecrated, they, with their girdle of celibacy and their maniple of sorrow, are sons of Adam, sons of sinners, of a fallen nature, which they have not put off, though it be renewed by grace, so that it is almost the definition of a priest that he has sins of his own to offer for.”
My dear brothers in Christ, on this your ordination day, we pray that Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mother of Christ, Mother of Priests, Mother of the Church, will always be close to your heart, leading you, forming you, shaping you after the Sacred Heart of her Son, the one High Priest and ever whispering into your ear: “Do whatever He tells you.” Amen.
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