In an emotional homily given Saturday in the chapel of the Center of Studies for the Legion of Christ in Rome, recently named Pontifical Delegate Archbishop Velasio De Paolis called on the Legionaries to be encouraged on their new path and to trust in the grace of God for the future.
During his homily, Archbishop De Paolis said the last few weeks were stressful for him, “ever since first the Secretary of State, and then the Holy Father, spoke to me about this mission.” Nevertheless, he added, “This is a task that can and must be carried out with the grace of God.”
“Seeing all these priests and students filling the chapel today makes me feel much calmer about myself and about the task I must carry out,” he said.
Archbishop De Paolis said he has presented the current leaders of the Legion with “the letter in which the Holy Father has given me this mandate, and I have also gave them my own letter, to communicate my sentiments and my exhortations for all you upon commencing this assignment.”
“I don’t think it’s appropriate or necessary to repeat these things, because your superiors will be better able to convey them and help you understand them. They have to do with the assignment of the Pontifical Delegate,” he stated.
The archbishop went on to emphasize his task to “bearing witness to the Pope’s closeness to all of you.”
“You yourselves, with your presence are a testimony that invites hope and fills us with encouragement,” he said. “The Pope sends his Delegate to tell you that he loves you and is close to you. At the same time, he knows—as he says himself in the letter—that a great number of the members of this congregation have great zeal and fervor.”
“The Lord has inspired this vocation within you and He has been with you until now,” the archbishop underscored. “At times we need to pause and examine our consciences,” he continued, “not to dwell continuously on the past, but to take stock of the present, of our situation, giving thanks to the Lord above all.”
“The first word that must spring forth from the depth of our hearts is the word ‘thanks.’ Thanks to God who has called us, He has called you to the priestly and religious vocation in this institute. Thanks to God who has accompanied you. Thanks to God that His work will be carried to fruition,” the archbishop said.
He explained that the Church has “completed a first task of discernment, today she wishes to complete the work—through the Pontifical Delegate—of rebuilding, restructuring, or better yet, of a new commitment on our spiritual path.”
“We know that at critical moments so many thoughts pass through our minds. Some even nestle within our hearts,” he continued. But “at a time of confusion, we only need to calm ourselves, we need to discover the presence of God, to believe in a new way in His love and to then resume the path of fidelity,” he said.
“We are called to journey down a path, the Pope tells us, a path of renewal, particularly of the norms that govern our lives, in order to reach the goal of holding an extraordinary chapter, in renewal and with a new understanding, a new awareness and new strength, during which we will reconfirm our fidelity to the Lord, our commitment to following Christ in the profession of the Gospel counsels, and in which we will reconfirm that the Lord is our all.”
After reflecting on the nature of the Saturday as the day of Mary and of silent faithfulness and hope, Archbishop De Paolis exhorted the Legionaries to overcome “the darkness that can oppress us at times, and to overcome the difficulties of our frailty and human weakness as well, because the mystery of God is greater than all human weakness” and because “with God, under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with Jesus who has risen and has called us His friends and brothers, we can do great things, be at the service of His Kingdom and make the Kingdom of God triumph first in ourselves and then by the testimony of our lives.”
Jesus “nourishes us with His word. He becomes our body and blood, He becomes our life and with the life of the Lord in us, we become transfigured people, capable of always giving witness to the mystery of the love of God who journeys in time,” the archbishop said.