Bishop James D. Conley
Saint Mary’s Catholic Church – Littleton, May 12, 2012 (6th Sunday in Eastertide)
25th Anniversary of the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.” John 15: 16-17
Fr. José Noriega, Fr. Alvaro Montero and the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, dear brother priests, deacons, religious, dear brothers and sisters, I am happy to celebrate this Vigil Mass for the 6th Sunday of Easter on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the birth of the Institute of the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary – a community that we have come to know and love here at Saint Mary’s and in the Archdiocese of Denver.
In 1987 the Catholic Church approved the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary with great hope. In 2004, you first arrived in the United States with great hope as well, opening your first community in Virginia. And with the same hope, in the summer of 2007, we received the Disciples in Colorado nearly five years ago. Today we look to the past with thanksgiving but, more importantly, we look to the future with renewed hope. We hear in today’s gospel: “God calls us his friends because the Son has shared with us everything he heard from his Father.” On this great anniversary day we encourage you to spread that same message and complete God’s work. The Church expects much from you: a better, deeper and broader work in her service for the glory of God.
As Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, your main inspiration is to contemplate Christ crucified with Mary. We could say that Jesus has chosen you precisely from the Cross, calling you to bear much fruit by loving one another with the love of his pierced Heart. At the foot of the Cross, standing by Mary together with St. John, you too have discovered the revelation of God’s love and the fruit of Redemption. The same evangelist wrote in his Gospel: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (John 15).
What is, then, that abundant fruit the Disciples are called to give? What does the Church expect from you as Disciples? In one word: holiness! Holiness, which calls for a total transformation in Christ.
But to be more concrete, you will be sanctified as you sanctify the people of God, particularly as you serve his flock here at Saint Mary’s. How do you accomplish this task? Here is a triple explanation of the fruit according to your ministry as disciples: 1) to be teachers of prayer and hope; 2) to be teachers of virtue and love, and 3) to be teachers of life and faith. This threefold mission of holiness is at the heart of what the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are all about – and what a wonderful mission this is!
As Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the first thing the Church expects from you is to bring us closer to Christ. Only through this knowledge do we have hope. As disciples you are called not only to learn from the Master, rather to learn “the Master” and teach others to know him. That means to teach how to pray and how to grow in hope. And the source of all Christian hope springs from the truth explained by St. John in our second reading for today’s Mass: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” To have his love is to have life and hope. As disciples, you understand that the human Heart of Christ reveals the love of God. And because you are disciples of this Heart, you are called to teach every Christian how to know God, how hope in Him and how to love Him.
You have learned from Blessed John Paul II to have a special heart for the pastoral care of the family. We pray that you keep leading all families to the Heart of Jesus: children, youth, parents, grandparents, seniors, the sick and the dying. Lead them and help them to remain in that love of the Father and the Son. In other words, be teachers of hope and prayer, where heart speaks to heart – cor ad cor loquitur. Last Saturday, at the end of the ad limina visit to Rome by the bishops of our region (CO, NM, AZ and WY) – we celebrated Holy Mass at the tomb of Blessed JPII and I offered that Mass for the people of the Archdiocese of Denver and I thank our beloved Holy Father of happy memory the gift of his 27 years pontificate. When I met with our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI and I introduced myself to him as the AA of Denver – he immediately remember WYD 1993.
The second thing the Church expects from the Disciples is for you to help us discover our vocation and to live it to the fullest. We have heard the words of Saint Peter in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles: “In every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
You are called to teach how to fear the Lord and act uprightly, growing in virtue, according to one’s vocation in life. Your spirituality, learned mainly in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, prepares you for this mission as spiritual directors and retreat masters. The Christian people want to know how to be saints, that is, how to discover, understand and live their friendship with the Lord in their concrete daily life. As your studies and training are mainly focused on the family, you are called to help married couples and all families to develop their vocation to love. To each one according to their status, helping them to walk the great adventure of life as friends and disciples of the Lord. Be teachers, then of human love as the way to give each other the love of God, the Holy Spirit. In this way many nations will learn how to fear the Lord and act uprightly.
The third fruit that the Disciples are called to bear is related to education. Your young Institute has teaching missions ranging from elementary and secondary education up through the university level. Every Christian is called to give a reason of their hope and faith. Blessed John Paul taught us that faith and reason are like two wings of an eagle that allow us to soar to the heights of contemplation. In your case as a religious institute this requires a common search for the Truth in friendship, creating an authentic school of thought. I am aware of continues studies in the area of Philosophy, Sacred Scripture, Dogma, Moral Theology and Marriage and Family Life.
The fruit you are called to bear, as disciples, will only remain if it is not the result of an isolated effort but rather the harvest of a common search for God from the center of the Heart of Christ and his Church. To be sure, your study of the true meaning of humanity and divinity, as revealed in Christ, is the foundation of your mission as educators -- from early childhood education to the highest degrees of academic life. And all of this with one goal: to help everyone to know and serve God achieving the perfection of charity. You will then become teachers of life and faith. Your work at St. Mary School is called to be a source of special blessings. We pray also for the growth of your work at the Stella Maris School, recently opened by you in Madrid.
Let me conclude with the same words of the Lord to his disciples: “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.”
We pray that you, too, listen to the Lord and tell all the nations everything you have heard from him. Together with Mary, at the foot of the Cross, keep learning how to love contemplating the open Heart of Christ and make more disciples for the Glory of God. Remember that your apostolic fruit springs from your friendship with Christ. Your fruit will be in proportion to a prayerful intimacy with the Lord.
Finally, we look forward to having you in the Archdiocese of Denver for many more years to come. May the gift of your order be multiplied in the future. We pray for an increase of vocations to the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, especially at St. Mary Parish and in Colorado.
My dear young people, remember the words of Pope Benedict XVI on the day he was inaugurated as pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth: “Have no fear of Christ! He takes nothing and gives everything. Who gives himself to Him, receives a hundredfold. Yes, open up wide the doors to Christ, and you will find the true life.”
This morning at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, I ordained four young men to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Young men, be open to the priesthood. We will have over 80 seminarians studying for the Archdiocese of Denver next fall – the third highest number in the US – and we are among the smallest of all of the archdioceses in the country.
God has a plan for each one of us. And the key to our own happiness and holiness is following the will of God for our lives. If we follow His path, we have nothing to fear. And if we stay on this path to God – these words of Jesus will come true for us: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.”
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.