S?bado, 31 de mayo de 2014

El jueves 29 de mayo (2014), solemnidad de la Ascensión del Señor, el cardenal Fernando Filoni, Prefecto de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos, ha presidido una misa solemne por la clausura del centenario de la evangelización de la Archidiócesis de Bamenda en Camerún, durante la cual ha ordenado siete diáconos y 9 presbíteros (Fides)

Homily of His Eminence, Fernando Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on the Occasion of the Celebration of the Closing of the Centenary of Evangelization of the Archdiocese of Bamenda

(29 May 2014) 

Acts 1:1-11

Ps. 46: 2-3,6-9

1 Cor. 3:5-17

Matt. 28:16-20

 

I am both honored and happy to be here on the occasion of the Celebration of the Centenary of the Evangelization of Bamenda. I would like, above all, to convey to all the People of God in this region and in Cameroon the cordial greetings and paternal blessing of His Holiness, Pope Francis, who keeps you in his heart and in his prayers.  To all the lay faithful, Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and to the civil Authorities, I address my own fraternal greetings, expressing to you the spiritual closeness of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  My gratitude goes especially to His Grace Cornelius Fontem Esua, Archbishop of Bamenda, who so very kindly invited me to preside over this Celebration of the Centenary of the Evangelization of his Diocese.  Thank you for your warm and fraternal welcome!

We celebrate today the Ascension of the Lord while we bring to a close the Celebration of the Centenary of the Evangelization of your Archdiocese that began a year ago.  In today’s Solemnity, we have also the joy of conferring Priestly Ordination upon nine Deacons and Diaconal Ordination upon seven seminarians.  These Ordinations remind us of the mission entrusted to the Church by Our Risen Lord, and therefore entrusted to every Christian: that of being evangelizer!  It is so beautiful to think that such evangelization occurred here one hundred years ago, and that today the Church is so well established! 

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 16:19-20).  To evangelize means above all to announce the Gospel, instructing and teaching everything that Christ commanded with His life and with His words.  “…And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8)  To evangelize also means to witness to Jesus, to testify to the new creation inaugurated by the Risen Lord. 

These strong and precise words invite each of us to reflect on the mission of the Church, on our mission as Christians.  We, the Christians, all of us – Bishops, priests, lay faithful, sisters, the elderly, children, fathers and mothers of families – have received the gift of Faith and of Baptism for this precise purpose: to bring and to communicate the gift of faith to others.  Christian does not live for himself, but for others, in the sense of charity, of help to the poorest and most needy neighbor, but first of all in the sense of the faith that is seen through bearing witness to it and proclaiming it to others.  Every human being needs Christ, and the greatest gift that we can give to our brothers and sisters is indeed to testify and to announce Jesus the Savior.  By what we say and do, it is important to be aware of this marvelous vocation of the Church, and thus, of the vocation of each one of us. 

Remembering the key-word of our Centenary, is also important to ask ourselves if we truly have a sense of being “God’s co-workers” (1 Cor. 3:9), apostles of Jesus, sent into the world by His goodness and trust.  To be co-workers of God commits us to this exactly: to collaborate in the work of building up the Church.  This mission awaits all of us today – Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and lay faithful.  This day, dear brothers and sisters, is a day for the entire Archdiocese of Bamenda to be sent out on mission.  This celebration of the Centenary  of the Evangelization of Bamenda marks a new point of departure for your local Church, that is, a new missionary impulse in the deepening of your faith in Christ.  Your faith will be more profound, and your missionary witness will be more eloquent and incisive.  You must be the light of the world and the salt of the earth wherever you find moral corruption, drug abuse, witchcraft, theft and every sort of evil.

Imbue and fill your cultural realities with the taste and flavor of the Gospel.  In the name of the Lord: renew your life of faith, renew your life of prayer, renew your commitments in society.  Bear witness with your lives that the “present society is recognized by Christians as an exile; they belong to a new society which is the goal of their common pilgrimage and which is anticipated in the course of that pilgrimage” (Spe salvi, 4). 

Dear candidates, you will receive in a short time the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate and the Priesthood.  You new priests will be anointed in Christ with the holy oil and integrated in a singular way into the mystery of His Life, in order to extend His salvific mission. 

The mission of the Deacon is in relationship to the service of the Altar, of the Word of God, and of Charity.  The Deacon’s vesture – the stole and dalmatic – distinguishes itself from the ordinary faithful and shows itself in the dignity of him who is responsible for divine worship.  But that which particularly characterizes this office is its configuration to Christ the Servant, who in his self-emptying and humility makes himself a man of God and for God, a man for others, who, according to the expression of St. Mark, “did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  This configuration to Christ the Servant is above all part of an interior dimension, as such necessary for him who is appointed to handle divine things and to exercise charity.  For this, dear Ordinands to the Diaconate, you are called to lay down your lives in the service of God and your brothers and sisters: a service exercise with joy and generosity.  In fact, you have chosen to belong totally to Christ and to the Church in choosing the life of celibacy.  You are convinced that the generous and total love toward Christ and His Church is the higher and more beautiful call for you.  Free from human conditioning, you are ready to exercise your diaconal ministry toward all, especially those who are the poorest and in need, in conformity with Christ, Who bowed down with love towards sinners and to the least. 

The priest, then, by means of his intrinsic nature, must cultivate an extraordinary interior life; I would also say the interior dimension of the priestly state absolutely cannot be lacking and less that the highest degree, in order not to become mere brokers of divine things.  Pope Benedict XVI in the past, and Pope Francis at present, have insisted many times on this dimension as an aspect that must characterize the life of a priest.  They have underlined that the intimate and personal union of the priest with Christ is an indispensable factor for an authentic priestly life.  It is this conformity that sacramentally will come through priestly consecration.  Who is the  priest?  He is the friend with whom Jesus speaks; and him who has Christ for a friend to a highest degree.  He deals with a friendship born at the moment in which the Ordinand clearly perceives in his heart that call which is from the very beginning of the relationship: If you wish, follow me!  In that moment, it is clear that He who speaks must be Jesus, the Eternal Priest, the Teacher of the Word of Life. 

Dear Ordinands to the Priesthood, today, the Church, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, consecrates you in the love of Christ and conforms you to Him in a completely special way, allowing you to speak of Him as witnesses and to celebrate Him in the Eucharist; today, your interior nature will be changed, as water in wine, in order to become alter Christus. The imposition of the Bishop’s hands upon your heads will make this new nature a reality: sacerdos in aeternum.   Every time that you pronounce “This is my Body, this is my Blood” at the Altar, there occurs the greatest miracle that can happen on the face of the earth: making Jesus present in His True Body and His True Blood. Christ himself, through your hands yet again, in a bloodless way, offers His own perfect sacrifice of praise and salvation to the Father.  To indicate your new configuration to the Lord, you will be dressed in priestly vestments that are intended to show your new identity.  Always wear these vestments with the highest dignity.  They should remind us of the worn out garments with which Jesus was covered and that He wore as such to the Cross. 

At one hundred years since the first evangelization, it is beautiful that some of the young men of this Church desire to offer their lives in the service of this community.  It is the most meaningful way in which to celebrate these one hundred years, and to praise the Lord for the gift that they make of themselves to the Church. 

 May the Lord strengthen and sustain your generosity till the end of your lives, for the good of the People of God, and may the prayers of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, always be the protection of this Church in Bamenda in Cameroon.  Amen. 


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