Fr Cody Maynus of our Sodality was ordained priest on Friday 12th June, 2020 at St Andrew’s Church, Rapid City, South Dakota by Bishop Jonathan Folts, With bishop of South Dakota. Social distancing, masks and other protocols were observed. Bishop Craig Loya, Xth Bishop of Minnesota preached via a pre-recorded film. His sermon resonate sixth so many of the Sodality’s charisms: joy, justice, to be ‘priests of the Magnificat’. Bishop Craig has Kindly agreed that we may post the text of his sermon here. Please pray for Fr Cody and all the priests of the Sodality that we may be our “whole life might sing out with Mary’s mega joy, because God has remembered his promise of mercy, in every generation. Amen.”
Sermon Preached at the Ordination of Cody Maynus as a Priest in Christ’s Church
Friday, June 12, 2020 The Right Reverend Craig Loya X Bishop of Minnesota
It is so wonderful to be here with you on this great day for the church. Cody both deeply loves and is deeply loved by Minnesota, soI’m grateful to both him and Bishop Folts for the invitation to be here.
Good news is hard to come by these days. A global pandemic has upended all of our lives, and even as we grow wearier and wearier of physical distancing, there is no end in sight. The deep legacy of racism on which our society is built continues to be exposed in heartbreaking and infuriating ways, and that sorrow and anger is producing civil unrest we haven’t seen in decades.
Our country is deeply and bitterly divided, and every new wave of challenge seems to just drive the wedge deeper.
What a time, Cody, to promise to endeavor so to minister the Word of God and the sacraments of the New Covenant, that the reconciling love of Christ may be known and received.â€ What a time to make a promise like that.
Against this difficult backdrop, we heard a few minutes ago Mary’s song of unbridled joy in the face of impossible odds. My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
The word which the NRSV translates as magnifies means to make mega, as in blastingÂ
something from a megaphone. A few minutes before Mary sings, her cousin Elizabeth, who has conceived under similarly unlikely circumstances, has also made mega in her loud exclamation when she is seized by the Holy Spirit. Here are two poor women, in the forgotten backwaters of the empire, with frankly not many good prospects in front of them, and they are literally shouting with joy at their encounter with one another, and the embrace of the Holy Spirit.
And their joy comes not from the prospect of an easy life, not from a pleasant and peaceful feeling that all is right with the world and everything is lining up just the way they had hoped.
Their joy comes entirely from an absolute confidence in God’s faithfulness. God remembers God’s promise of mercy, from generation to generation. God has sustained God’s people through plagues and slavery, through warfare and famine, and not even the people’s own shortcomings and self-sabotage can stop God’s promise from finding them. So Mary and Elizabeth know that though their circumstances are far from pleasant, the same God who called Abraham and Sarah,
who drove the great liberation from Egypt, who promised salvation through the prophets, is a God who can turn the world upside down. And when they encounter a God like that, they couldn’t keep themselves from shouting if they tried.
This morning, the same God who called Abraham out of his quiet life as a desert nomad, the same God who gave Moses the courage to face down all the might of Pharaoh’s army, the same God who called Esther for such a time as this, who caused Elizabeth and Mary to shout for joy, is on the move again, in, with, and through this small gathering. This small gathering and this otherwise ordinary night is a reminder that God is not done with this church, and this church is still here for a hurting world. This is a night that we, like Elizabeth and Mary, are called to mega joy.
But just like Mary and Elizabeth, our joy is not some superficial feeling of happiness. It’s not anesthesia to make us forget the pain around and inside us. The joy we are called to on this night comes from looking at the immense brokenness of the world with wide-eyed sobriety, and shouting a defiant alleluia back at it, because we know in the resurrection of Jesus, that God is unequivocally, unwaveringing, and unmistakably faithful.
Cody, one of the most important things I have learned in my years of ordained ministry is that in some ways the pastor’s whole job is to safeguard the community’s joy, to guard against how we so easily slip back into fear, and cover ourselves with despair. There aren’t enough people. There isn’t enough money. We tried that once. No one will like that. Fear is the spiritual practice of looking at the darkness and giving up. Hope is the practice of looking at the world’s darkness and remembering God’s faithfulness. As a priest, your job is to call people back to hope, and to safeguard their joy.
There are a lot of things that give me hope for your future ministry, Cody. But foremost among them is your deep life of prayer, and your commitment to a rigorous discipline of bringing yourself and your community before God in both public and private. Because if our job is to safeguard hope and safeguard joy in the face of all that presses in us, we can only do that by soaking ourselves over and over and over in God’s presence, and power, and love.
That’s the most important thing I want to say today. What you are promising to do as a priest—in fact, what all of us promise to do as disciples–is impossible. We simply cannot do the very things we promise we will. Our job is simply to get out of the way, and clear out enough room inside ourselves for something God’s faithfulness to shine through our little broken lives. Your job is to throw yourself on God’s loving faithfulness with every moment you have breath, and to help the people given into your care to do the same.
Mary’s song goes on to describe God’s intention to turn the world upside down, that it might finally be right side up. Your job, your joy, will be to point to all the places our world is still upside down every child that is starving, with every woman sold for sex, with every black body brutalized and killed, with every weeping mother you stand with at the grave of her child and announce God’s promise to turn it over and make it right side up.
The world-changing, mega joyful vision that Mary lays out in today’s gospel won’t come to pass because you work hard. It won’t come to pass because of all our clever ideas about the church. It won’t come to pass because we are good preachers or attentive pastors. It will come to pass because God is faithful. All of the cleverness, or energy, or skill we have will only be worth anything if we use it to point to the way God is faithful, from generation to generation.
Despite the darkness around us, this is a day for mega joy. Not only because we are ordaining a great priest, but because every time a group of disciples gather, no matter how grand or how humble, we are joining Jesus in defying the powers of darkness and death with resurrection joy.
So saturate yourself with God’s power and love every single day Cody, so that your whole life might sing out with Mary’s mega joy, because God has remembered his promise of mercy, in every generation. Amen.