Tomorrow morning I will preach the homily at Father Piedrahita's "first Mass." Here's a peek at what I will say. The first part is in Spanish in light of the presence of Father Piedrahita's family from Columbia.
Mis queridos hermanos sacerdotes,
mis hermanos y hermanas,
y mi querido Padre Piedrahita:
Empiezo, en nombre de la Iglesia en los Estados Unidos de América, dando las gracias a su madre y su familia y amigos. Nos sentimos honrados por su presencia y le debemos una gran deuda de gratitud por la fe que ha implantado en este corazon de Carlos.
Ustedes son los que primero le enseñó a hacer la señal de la cruz. Ahora él bendice a todos en el nombre de Cristo y de su Iglesia.
Ustedes son los que primero le enseñó a arrodillarse y rezar. Ahora reza por todos nosotros.
Ustedes son los que lo llevaron a la Primera Santa Comunión. Ahora se celebra la Misa por nosotros y nos alimenta con el pan de vida.
Gracias. Para cada uno de los que se beneficiarán del Sacerdocio de este hombre santo, estamos muy agradecidos a te.*
As an older brother whom you have called Father, I am particularly touched by the wondrous ways in which Christ has conformed you to his own image. The words spoken by the Bishop as he placed the chalice and paten into your hands, a mere twenty four hours ago, have been lived by you since your mother first carried you in her arms. Through all the years, on all the many roads, you have sought to know what you were doing, to imitate the mysteries you have celebrated and to conform yourself to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.
In Jesus’ prayer to his Heavenly Father at the Last supper we hear him say that he has made the holy name of God known to his Apostles so that they, in turn, might proclaim it to all the world. He is talking about you: the good shepherd who knows his sheep and is known by them, who will not abandon the flock to the wolf, and who seeks out the lost and carries them home.
To the congregation:
This man, your brother and freind, who sits in the Chair of Moses for the first time today, has become such a shepherd. He did it, or rather God has accomplished this shepherd-making, by inviting him into an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus, the High Priest and Shepherd, since Carlos was just a little boy, and all through school, and all through seminary. By two continents of faithful Catholics, Carlos has been formed and shaped into the image of Christ, whose sacraments he will celebrate, whose Gospel he will preach and in whose footsteps he will seek to lead a holy people for the rest of his life.
Soon you will be introduced to the sheep you will shepherd, Carlos. You do not yet know them. But they are waiting for you, many of them not yet born. You will console and challenge them, you will teach them, young and old, to cry Abba in their need. You will baptize their children and bury their dead. You will encourage them to carry their crosses and dry their tears. Through you, Christ will love them, forgive them, and strengthen them for their journey through this life.
And when, in the years to come, things get tiresome or tough, just keep thinking of them...the thousands who are waiting for you in the years to come. For they are now your daughters and sons, your brothers and sisters. And they need you to bring them the real presence of Christ by the Sacrament you have received.
So now you will take up the cup of salvation and call upon the Lord for us, you will offer his perfect sacrifice for us, joining us to him and making sense of our lives. You will baptize us into his death and resurrection, feed us with his Body and Blood, seal our covenants, heal our sick, forgive our sins and bury our dead. You will be Christ for us.
Not because we chose you, but because he chose you, and sent you to be our shepherd and our Priest.
Saint Francis of Assisi used to say that if he met a saint and a priest on the road he would be nice to the saint, but he would kiss the hands of the Priest. We venerate those hands which you have placed into the hands of Christ and which will touch us with the mysteries of his love for many many years to come.
Monsignor James P. Moroney
<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->*<!--[endif]--> I begin, on behalf of the Church in the United States of America, by thanking your mother and family and friends. We are honored by your presence and we owe you a great debt of gratitude for the faith which you have implanted in this Carlos’ heart.
You are the ones who first taught him to make the sign of the cross. Now he blesses us all in the name of Christ and his Church. You are the ones who first taught him to kneel down and pray. Now he prays for all of us. You are the ones who brought him to his First Holy Communion. Now he celebrates the Mass for us and feeds us with the bread of life.
Thank you. For each one of us who will benefit from the Priesthood of this holy man, are very grateful to you.