Did you know that many of the rites come with “canned” homilies? After our review of FIYH, it’s an interesting proposition that a bishop would have his text already prepared. The only bishop I know who has ever used these texts is my former ordinary, Robert Finn in Kansas City. He never used them in their entirety, and he always preached decently from his own preparation. So I guess that was okay.
I’ll include the full text of what the bishop may say at the admission to candidacy:
5. After the gospel, the bishop, wearing his miter, sits, and gives the homily, which he concludes with these or similar words:
Dear brethren in Christ, our brothers stand here today in the presence of the Church, recommended to us and to you for admission among the candidates for holy orders.
Christ gave this command: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest.” Our brothers know the Lord’s concern for his flock, they see the needs of the Church, and they feel ready to respond generously to the Lord in the words of the prophet: “Here I am, send me forth.” They put their hope in the Lord, trusting that they may answer his call faithfully.
This call from the Lord should be recognized and understood from the daily signs which reveal God’s will to men of discernment. When God chooses men to share in the ordained priesthood of Christ, he moves and helps them by his grace. At the same time, he entrusts us with the task of calling suitable and approved candidates and of consecrating them by a special seal of the Holy Spirit to the ministry of God and of the Church. By the sacrament of holy orders they will be appointed to share in the ministry of salvation that Christ accomplished in the world. When the time comes, they will be given a part in our ministry of service to the Church, and build up by word and sacrament the Christian communities to which they will be sent.
Our brothers here have already begun their preparation so that later they may be called to ordination by the bishop. Day by day they will learn to live the life of the Gospel and deepen their faith, hope, and love. In the practice of these virtues they will gain the spirit of prayer and grow in zeal to win the world to Christ.
Urged on by his love and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they have come here to declare in public their desire to bind themselves to the service of God and of mankind.
When each one is called by name, he should come forward and declare his intention before the Church assembled here.
Note the expectation that God’s call comes from ordinary life’s events, not special ones. The call to ministry is not something of a taste and see kind of thing. The old expectation that serving as a junior acolyte was somehow a stepping stone to holy orders would seem to be against the indication here. At least, a person’s devotion to God would be part of a greater whole in which God’s call to service would be manifested in other ways in a person’s life.
The rite presumes that preparation has already begun. This is good. Admission to candidacy should be a celebration of a reality already present in the candidates. Liturgy is not necessarily one of a number of hoops through which people jump. Liturgists would also wince at the notion of a liturgy being a “graduation” event. Hopefully the message is communicated clearly that the candidates enter a period of lifelong formation as deacons and priests.
Note also the virtues of faith, hope, and love are presumed present and strong in the candidates. Deacons and priests are not distinctive because of these virtues. The expectation would be that every believer has them. The call of the candidate is to deepen what has already been part of their spiritual make-up since baptism.