Sunday, November 30, 2014
12:30 pm Mass
Cathedral of Saint Agnes
Rockville Centre, New York

Pope St John Paul II wrote a beautiful reflection entitled Gift and Mystery.  In it he said, "The priestly vocation is a mystery.  It is the mystery of a wondrous exchange between God and man.  A man offers his humanity to Christ, so that Christ may use him as an instrument of salvation, making him as it were into anther Christ.  Unless we grasp the mystery of this exchange we will not understand how it can be that a young man, hearing the words , Follow me, can give up everything for Christ, in the certainty that, if he follows this path, he will find complete personal fulfillment.

"In our world, is there any greater fulfillment of our humanity than to be able to re-present every day in persona Christi the redemptive sacrifice, the same sacrifice which Christ offered on the cross?”

Dear Friends, this we have done together today.  The Church celebrates the Eucharist which makes the Church.  How great is the deep and abiding joy we experience from this, our weekly encounter with Christ in His Word and in His sacramental presence by which he nourishes us!

My heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude to God because he called someone like me to be a priest, a gratitude that has only increased because he has sent me to you whom I want to serve as pastor with all my being, one with you together proclaiming the great deeds of the Lord.

I thank the Holy Father who graciously sent me an autographed letter granting me to impart his Apostolic Blessing at the close of this Mass.  To my dear friend and great man of the Church, Cardinal Dolan, I thank you for words I do not deserve but which I hope, with God s grace, to continue prayerfully to try to fulfill. To all of you, my brother bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated women and men and especially you, the extraordinary lay faithful of the Church I love, I express my deepest gratitude which I seal by my promise to spend whatever days left to me in loving prayer to bring Christ to you and you to Christ.

The memorial card for this day which I hope you will accept as you leave the Cathedral depicts the majestic figure of Christ, High priest and Lord from the apse in the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls.  On my retreats there I have spent many hours of prayer before this majestic but deeply touching figure.  In the corner one sees a very small figure of Pope Honorius at the feet of our Lord.  My hope is that I might be found at the end of my life as a tiny figure, rejoicing to be found there at the foot of our loving Lord and Savior.

To the psalmist's question, "what return can I make to the Lord for all that he has given me?, I make mine the words of a second century priest: "Dearest Lord, I would take my life and fling it at your feet and sing and sing, happy to give to you this one small thing.”  God bless you all.