On the evening of Saturday 17th October, Brother Joseph Cuong a.a. was ordained Deacon at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Bethnal Green. Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Westminster, presided at the ordination Mass.
In his homily, Bishop Nicholas spoke about his own diaconate ordination, and the hymn ‘Te Deum’, specifically the last line of the hymn, ‘In you, Lord, we put our trust’:
Joseph Cuong, to promise celibacy is to state your utter conviction about all that Jesus says and is. It is a most radical ‘yes’ you make to Jesus. I remember how encouraged I was to be told by a young couple, ‘Your “yes” to Jesus helps us to deepen our “yes” to him.’ And I was able to reply, ‘Your “yes” to Jesus helps me to deepen my “yes” to him too.’
‘I know who it is I have put my trust in’, says St Paul, in his letter to Timothy. ‘I know who it is I have put my trust in.’
Ordination is an act of profound trust, of your trust in God and his trust in you. Joseph Cuong, if ever you wonder how to pray, turn to the ‘Te Deum’. I was directed there the night before my own ordination as a Deacon by a good and holy priest because of its last line: ‘In you, Lord, we put our trust’. You will remember, the ‘Te Deum’ is a great long hymn of praise to God, but it ends in a humble act of faith:
‘In you, Lord, we put our trust’.
I urge you, make those words your own; let trust be your abiding energy, your foundation, the rock on which you stand. Trust that, with God’s help, you can make of the gift which he bestows on you a gift worthy of offering back to him. Because that’s what he’s inviting us to when, in the last words of today’s Gospel, he says, ‘repay to God what belongs to God’. When you stand alongside the priest, holding up the chalice of salvation, hold in your heart the words of the psalmist: ‘How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me. The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name.’
I remember, the last thing the Bishop said before ordaining me as a Deacon were words I wish to end with now. They’re words from the homily which is to be found in the Roman Pontifical.
‘Finally, on the last day, when you go to meet the Lord, you will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.”’
It made my spine tingle then as it does every time I remember it. ‘Finally, on the last day, when you go to meet the Lord, you will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.”’
I say those same words to you, Joseph Cuong, about to be ordained in a very short time now. I am confident that you too will hear the Lord say, when, at life’s end, you go to meet him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.’ Because the gift you make of yourself this day is truly precious in the eyes of the Lord; and he and we rejoice in it heartily.