Wednesday, May 17th - Lauds
Homily by His Exc. Msgr. Guy GAUCHER Auxiliary Bishop of Bayeux & Lisieux
Brother bishops, brother priests, on this day when we here the Saints speaking to us, to us the priests of Jesus Christ, and in particular two Saints, Doctors of the Church, let us go back in silence and with an act of grace to the depth of our calling, to our vocation. For we have been chosen in a special way, called upon so that through us "the pure offering of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ may be offered to all Nations " (cf. Mal 1, 11) and that His Name be worshipped to the ends of the earth.
One of these two young Saints, Theresa of the Child Jesus, entered the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of fifteen to "save souls and above all to pray for priests" (Autobiographical Manuscripts A, 49 v°).
She made a special pilgrimage to Rome to ask Pope Leo XIII to expedite her entry into the Carmel to become "an apostle of apostles".
During this pilgrimage, she lived with 75 priests on a daily basis and this is the conclusion she drew from it: "Ah! I understood my vocation in Italy; I did not have to look too far for such useful knowledge...
For one month I lived with many saintly priests and I saw that, while their sublime dignity elevates them above the angels, they are nonetheless weak and fragile men... If saintly priests, who Jesus called "the salt of the earth" in His Gospel, show their extreme need for prayers through their conduct, what can be said about those who are tepid? Did not Jesus also say: "but if salt has lost its taste, how will you season it?"
O my Mother! How beautiful is the vocation having as its ends the conservation of the salt destined for the souls! This vocation is that of the Carmel, because the only end of our prayers and of our sacrifices is being the apostle of apostles, praying for them while they evangelize the souls through their words and especially by their examples..." (Manuscript A, 56 r°).
Brother bishops, brother priests, the entire brief existence of this Carmelite was in the offering of her prayers and her life for us, and through her "entrance into the Life" (LT 244) eternal, she continues her intercession.
May the fraternal solicitude of this "young" "woman" "contemplative" (John Paul II, Divini Amoris Scientia), the Patroness of Missions, be for us here in Rome a powerful help to revive the gift of God we received through the laying on of hands (2 Tim 1:6).
In the same way, may Saint Catherine of Siena, "la Mamma", be a spiritual Mother for us, she who exalted the excellency of the priestly ministry and denounced the weaknesses and the sins of the clergy. Let us humbly listen to what Jesus said to her: "I have told you all this, dearest daughter, that you may the better recognize the dignity to which I have called My ministers, so that your grief at their miseries may be more intense. They are My anointed ones, and I call them My Christs, because I have given them the office of administering Me to you, and have placed them like fragrant flowers in the mystical body of the Holy Church. The angel himself has no such dignity, for I have given it to those men whom I have chosen for My ministers.
In all souls I demand purity and charity, that they should love Me and their neighbor, helping him by the ministration of prayer. But far more do I demand purity in My ministers, and love towards Me, and towards their fellow-creatures, administering to them the Body and Blood of My only-begotten Son, with the fire of charity, and a hunger for the salvation of souls, for the glory and honour of My Name." (Dialogue, CXIII)
Brothers, may our prayer, sustained by the prayer of these two saintly women who were passionately worried about the holiness and the beauty of Priesthood issuing from the only Priest, Jesus Christ, become instantaneous and trusting so that the grace of our ordination may be revived in us during this Jubilee, and may we be renewed in our preaching of the Gospel "for the glory of God and for the salvation of the world."