Since you have purified
yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another
intensely from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1:22)
Today, a most beautiful DC day, with great joy and fanfare
the Church ordained Father Joseph
Augustine DiNoia, O.P., 66, a bishop. The setting was the beautiful Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The drama of the Liturgy couldn’t come together in your theological imagination better than when you read the words in dome over the sanctuary which reads, in part: “Jesus has pored forth His Spirit you see and hear.” Right, the Lord poured forth his Spirit upon Father Augustine ordaining him a bishop.
He was appointed by the Holy
Father the titular archbishop of Oregon City. Even more to the point, he’s the
archbishop secretary of the Congregation
for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; this office
is part of the Roman Curia so Archbishop DiNoia works for the Pope.
Cardinal Levada was the consecrating prelate with the assistance of Archbishop Thomas Cajetan Kelly, OP and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl. Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera was supposed to be here but he forgot his passport at home and didn’t have time to run back to the Vatican to get it and make the flight. Easily 250 priests and a handful of bishops including three other cardinals.
The image to the right is of Fra Angelico’s Coronation of the Virgin (at the Convent of San Marco) was used for the invitation, worship aid and remembrance card. Talk about theology and Liturgy!
When the Papal Bull was read by the Dominican Provincial Father Dominic Izzo you heard the Pope say of DiNoia: you are a beloved son, suitable for the office of bishop because you manifest gifts of mind and heart, piety, diligence, experience and prudence; you are now asked by the Church to use these gifts for the up-building of the Church through the work of Liturgy and the sacraments.
In the context of the Eucharist, family, friends, colleagues (past and present) and others who thought it best to attend, gathered to pray for the Spirit to come down upon Father Augustine so that he receive the gift of the fullness of Order, i.e., a bishop. We were reminded by Cardinal Levada that following ancient belief and practice the mission given to the apostles through Holy Spirit and imposition of hands the Tradition is preserved until today. The action of the Holy Spirit and the Church Father Augustine was conformed to the three-fold work of Christ as teacher, shepherd and priest not for himself but to join with Saint Peter and the apostles, Pope Benedict and the entire college of bishops in communion with the pope. Therefore, the doctrine is that a real “communio” exists with Augustine and the Pope and with every bishop in the world. So our Catholic belief here is that Father Augustine lives as Christ’s vicar because of his episcopal character having particular care and solicitude for all the Church.
The notion of episcopal solicitude means that a bishop builds up the body of Christ not only at the local level but worldwide. How is this done? Going back to the point of calling on the Spirit to come down upon the person to be ordained and the anointing with oil. Delving deeper into this dramatic Liturgy we notice that the Church invokes the Trinity, the saints and angles to come upon Father Augustine who abandons himself to Christ in humility in an act of humility seen in his prostration before the altar. Moments later the cardinal imposed hands (with the other bishops) and poured oil on the head and gave the visible ornaments of the bishop’s office (ring, mitre and crosier). Capping the ritual off was the seating of the bishop and the sign of peace. BUT, I think we need to reflect on the cardinal’s words when said we are all to look to the “destiny of divine embrace” as all of heaven gazes down upon Augustine. Here we realize the promises of Christ. And to that, the saints and angels lift Augustine’s gaze heavenward while the Trinity gives the grace to preach the gospel with constancy and faithfully.
Cardinal Levada reminded us of the tall order DiNoia was called to: to live and teach Gospel in truth. As a point in history he renews his commitment to the truth of Gospel. Remember: truth is not a thing but a Person. Truth, you will recall, makes us free for the service of Christ oriented toward the liberation of the world.
A nice point of continuity with Dominican history is that Archbishop DiNoia used the crosier of Father Benedict Edward Fenwick, OP, founder of the Dominican Province of Saint Joseph and bishop of Cincinnati. Other points of continuity were the presence of the archbishop’s chaplains Dominican Fathers Gabriel B. O’Donnell (JAD’s ordination classmate & my spiritual father) and Romanus Cessario. One can’t overlook all of the Dominican family and friends who travelled long distances to support him.
Archbishop DiNoia’s episcopal motto is In
Oboedientia Veritatis. The explanation given comes from a papal homily:
beautiful phrase from the First Letter of St. Peter springs to my mind. It is
from verse 22 of the first chapter. The Latin goes like this: ‘Castificantes
animas nostras in oboedentia veritatis.’ Obedience to truth must ‘purify’ our souls
and thus guide us to upright speech and upright action. In other words,
speaking in hope of being applauded, governed by what people want to hear out
of obedience to the dictatorship of current opinion, is considered to be a sort
of prostitution: of words and of the soul. The ‘purity’ to which the Apostle
Peter is referring means not submitting to these standards, not seeking
applause, but, rather, seeking obedience to the truth…This is the fundamental
virtue for the theologian, this discipline of obedience to the truth; it makes
us, although it may be hard, collaborators of the truth, mouthpieces of the
truth. For it is not we who speak in today’s river of words, but it is the
truth which speaks in us, who are really purified and made chaste by obedience
to the truth. So it is that we can truly be harbingers of the truth.” (Pope
Benedict XVI, Redemptoris Mater Chapel, Apostolic Palace)
Finally, the whole ecclesial event was a wonderful grace for Archbishop DiNoia and in that my own friendships were renewed by seeing so many very friends, plus making new ones.