Holy Hour for Vocations – Evening Prayer and Adoration before the Priestly Ordination of Deacon Homero Rodriguez
About two years ago, after a daily Mass at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, we students and monks processed out of our many chapel doorways and gathered in the long, narrow narthex. It was Noon, and we recited the Angelus before the gaze of Our Lady. A fellow student made an introduction of someone who was new to the Holy Hill and said this new guy was or would soon be connected with the Diocese of Evansville. So, I made my way to say hello.
“I’m Tyler. I’m studying for the Diocese of Evansville. What is your name?” That is when Deacon Homero Rodriguez replied back to this English-speaking, southern Indiana farm kid with, “I’m Homer.”
“Yeah, it’s probably easier for you than “Homero”.
Soon to be Father Homero or Padre Rodriguez had arrived a few hours before that meeting, and he was already… he was already so conscious of the culture of another person that he even introduced himself in my native tongue. He was an incarnation of bridging culture, of reaching people, much like Our Lady of Guadalupe to an indigenous Mexican peasant years ago. Deacon Homero’s introduction spoke volumes to me that day, and, Dcn. Homero, your presence as a bridge-builder between the Latin culture and the culture of our Diocese has spoken volumes in which we truly rejoice.
St. Paul exhorts the people of Philippi to “Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!”
It’s the third Sunday of Advent—Gaudete Sunday—a Sunday of celebratory hope nearing Christ’s coming at Christmas.
It’s the evening of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe—a celebration recalling Mary’s coming in the likeness of an indigenous American, and of her gentle and powerful intercession ever since.
It’s the evening before an ordination, a priestly ordination of a would-be missionary who is now a native son, a new priest who has come to serve God and Christ’s Church here in the Diocese of Evansville.
Rejoice? I think we’ve got have plenty of reasons to heed the Apostle’s command this evening. It’s a celebratory occasion. It’s easy to rejoice right now. But is that all the rejoicing He calls us to?
I’m a big fan of soccer, and the team I cheer for from Seattle, the Sounders, won the MLS Cup last night in a below-freezing match in Toronto, Canada. This Cup is the biggest prize in North American soccer, and Seattle has had great seasons but had never before claimed the Championship. As each member of the team received the trophy and hoisted it high above his head, you could see muscles in each player’s neck, face, legs, arms straining with satisfaction, with great joy. Their whole selves were in that celebration.
Have you ever felt that joyful?
We long to heed St. Paul’s exhortation to rejoice always, and that longing for deep and satisfying joy is exactly what we find when we give ourselves to God when we follow His unique call in each of our lives.
I don’t need to tell you that God created us—me, you—not generally, but individually, specifically, with a personal call to holiness. Many of us have already made permanent commitments to our vocations. Some of us are in training. Some of us are merely testing the waters of God’s deep, frightening, yet attractive whisper to our hearts. Some of us are probably hearing tonight that you are called for the first time, in any meaningful way.
Yet no matter whether we’ve lived 40 years in our vocation of marriage or whether we are picking out engagement rings, whether we are a priest of six months or a seminarian of two or four or ten years, no matter whether we are hiding from God or finally letting the thinnest crack finally grow down the center of our hearts, know this: when we give ourselves to God, when we trust his word and answer without fear, every muscle in our body, every song inside our soul, every dream we thought possible and every hope for which we have ever longed—all of it, all of it will be caught up in Divine joy. As Our Lady instructed Juan Diego, "Go and put all your efforts into this."
What if Saint Paul’s command for our lives to ‘rejoice always’ was not just a command?
What if rejoicing is God’s invitation—His deep and desperate invitation that our world might become a better place?
What if the Lord was offering us our surest way to peace, true peace now, and that we might have eternal life to come?
And what if that command—to 'rejoice always'—was but God’s way of giving us victory, that his infinite love and mercy might so capture you and me that we would lift our hearts like trophies over our heads, and straining with our whole selves, gave ourselves completely to Him?
For so many reasons, and yet for just one, it’s time to Rejoice.