Evening Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

In his homily, Bishop James F. Checchio spoke about the consecration of the Diocese of Metuchen to Jesus through Our Lady of Guadalupe, saying: "It has always been the instinct of the Church to turn to Mary in order to find Jesus, to know Jesus, to love Jesus. In the early Church, we have the oldest, still visible images of our Lady which were painted in love as the faithful gathered together in prayer, hiding in the catacombs, imploring Mary’s help. Down through ages, even to us right now, we faithful instinctively have turned to her. So, throughout this year, we too will follow more completely her instruction to “Do whatever He tells you.” 
(Michael Ehrmann/The Catholic Spirit, photo)

December 12, 2018

METUCHEN -- Hundreds of worshipers filled the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi Dec. 12 for the official launch of a “Year of Awakening” for Catholics in the Diocese of Metuchen.

Bishop James F. Checchio presided at the evening liturgy, which marked the start of a yearlong intentional preparation that will lead to a consecration of the Diocese of Metuchen to Jesus through Our Lady of Guadalupe on the same date next year, in 2019.

In his homily, Bishop Checchio remarked that the presence of those in attendance was an indication for a great expectation of what God wants to do in our diocese, and what He will do, saying: "This launching of a Year of Spiritual Renewal and Awakening of Faith is a new, historic moment for our diocese. In my travels around our diocese during these past two years, I have been blessed to see so many good, faith-filled people. I am humbled by so many good and generous lay people in every parish I visit throughout our four counties. I meet so many good priests, deacons and religious, and yet, we need more – we all deep down want more. It is this desire for more that we all share – the stirrings of God’s grace – 'I am with you.'

We do not set out on a new program. We do not set out to try to implement a strategy. Rather, we are setting out to give God permission – permission to change us, to transform our hearts, to put new enthusiasm into our hearts, to set our hearts on fire! We are looking for a New Pentecost – a time when new graces will come from the hand of God to make all things new. If the hearts of all our people are newly touched by God during this year of awakening and renewal, our parishes will have new energy. We will be people on fire with the love of God, living as His faithful disciples, right here, in 2019 throughout the 90 parishes of our beautiful counties of Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren."

You are – as the Vatican’s Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons has put it – “a living icon of Christ the servant within the Church” (n. 1). That Congregation was merely echoing the teaching of Pope Paul VI Himself, who wrote that deacons are “a sign or sacrament of the Lord Christ himself, who ‘came not to be served but to serve’” (Ad pascendum, Introduction). So you are servants, yes. But you are not servants simply because there is work to be done and we need someone to do it. You are servants because you are configured by your ordination to Christ the Servant of all.
All of this is indeed a reason for joy. I am confident that the more deeply you reflect on this reality, the "more joyful will your ministry become. But it is also a great challenge. In order for you to carry out this service authentically, it is not enough simply to understand your identity, important as that is. It is essential that you continually nourish and protect it, through your own friendship with Jesus. As the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons insists: “deacons must know Christ intimately so that He may shoulder the burdens of their ministry” (n. 50)

WATCH: Bishop Checchio's Homily for Evening Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe