The Most Reverend Glen John Provost, D.D.
Bishop of Lake Charles
Homily at the Ordination of the
Reverend Derek Scott Covert
May 26, 2007
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

"For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus."

II Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-7


The priesthood is embedded in the Eucharist. As sign and sacrament it springs forth from the Eucharistic moment of institution at the Last Supper. Jesus takes the bread in His hands and, while He says "This is my body", quickly adds, "Do this in memory of me" (Luke 22:19). In those few words, for with Christ a few can have great significance, all the hopes of the Messianic people are fulfilled. For the fulfillment of that Eucharistic memory the prophets had yearned. As with Jeremiah in the first reading, Jesus seems to be saying to His apostles, "Say not, I am too young. To whomever I send you, you shall go" (Jeremiah 1:7). The priest is neither young nor old. He is sent to preserve the memory of Christ that begins and ends with the Eucharist.

This message is not your own. As St. Paul reminds the Corinthians, "We do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus" (II Corinthians 4:5). Never is the message a matter of opinion, because the message is an object of faith. As the beloved Angelic Doctor reminds us, faith is the reality midpoint between science and opinion. The message is far too important to be ours alone because its object is not ours. The priest preaches, teaches, and worships in concert with the great chorus of faith in which he lifts his voice to be one with the Church. The Eucharist is the song.

I am speaking here of something beautiful. When I encounter beauty, I am compelled to be one with it. What is more beautiful than the message of Christ? Pope Benedict XVI expresses it this way: "There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him" (ASS 97, 2005). These words point to the Eucharist. For you, your priesthood must find its inspiration in the Eucharist. There, before the Blessed Sacrament and in the celebration of the divine mystery of Christ¹s memory, you must begin. There you will encounter a friendship like no other, an inexhaustible source of strength and consolation, and a beauty of form and balance that will compliment your every dream and hope. Energized by love, you will embrace the ideal of Gospel, "to serve and to give" your "life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

Of course, you know from your scripture studies that Jesus is referring to Isaiah when he speaks of being "a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). The ransom that redeems comes from the fourth Servant Song. You are called to identify with the fulfillment of a suffering servant. He is "spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity" (Isaiah 53:3). "The Lord" lays "upon him the guilt of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). "He gives his life as an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10). Only then, will God "give him his portion among the great" (Isaiah 53:12).

You cannot be a priest without suffering. If you wish to share in Christ¹s service, then suffering is inevitable. Your priesthood, if it is to be what it is meant to be, will entail a dying to self. You will think less and less of yourself. You will spend hours in prayer. The Liturgy of Hours will be your constant companion. God will ask of you things that you never thought possible and accomplish in you things of which you never thought yourself capable.

The beauty of the priesthood exists in its selflessness. It is when you think you cannot give any more than you have given, when every ounce of energy has been squeezed from you, when the Church asks you to do the impossible, when someone else received the recognition you thought you deserved, when you are called to a deathbed at midnight after an exhausting day, when it is late and you are hungry and the phone rings, when you are embarrassed publicly and feel abandoned, when you conclude you have accomplished nothing, when you think you are right when in fact you are wrong, then you will look at Our Lord crucified, identify with Him, and experience a joy the world cannot give. You will have given of yourself, and there is no greater love than this.

In these moments of identification with the suffering servant, you will find your strength in the Eucharist. You will return again and again, and the message will be the same. "Live on in my love" (John 15:9). Something beautiful will be revealed to you at that moment. You will discover your other self, and He will be no one other than Christ Himself, the High Priest Himself whose perfection you should become. What is more beautiful than love, and what is more loving than friendship? And the more perfect the friend the more perfect the love.

Be patient with yourself and with God. Search His ways and let Him reveal Himself to you in gentle ways. Then, having learned how patient He is with you, be patient with the sheep. They are never the cross. They are the gift, and as the Eucharist transforms you, it will transform them.

In a quote that has for me remained a source of meditation, the Angelic Doctor writes, "Grace is the beginning of glory in us." You are to be a priest. Let the Grace of Christ transform you into His likeness. May you always see your vocation as a call to greater holiness and the beginning of glory.