Writer’s Block During The Crisis In the Church! Oh Heck!

Writer's blockWe are currently in the most serious times in the recent life of the Catholic Church.  In Rome, in the United States, and other parts of the Catholic world; stories of the cover up of misdeeds of an American Cardinal, involving Pope Francis; the findings of a Pennsylvania grand jury on clergy abuse of children; and reports of sexual misconduct in an Archdiocesan seminary have filled the air ways.  And we now have bishops calling for the resignation of Pope Francis.

And in the midst of all, I cannot yet put fingers to keyword, and write my own reactions, my own reflections on what is happening now!  How does all this negative news affect me?  Because I am, as a deacon, a member of the clergy; although our lives are divided among family, work, and service to the Church.  I am not really that plugged in to the clerical culture.  So how do I react, one foot in Church “culture;” the other in the “real’ world?  I have not quite figured that out yet, so my fingers are still.  For the moment.

Fifty Years And Counting; Celebrating in “The Big Easy!”

deacon red stoleFrom July 22 to July 26, 2018, 1,300 Catholic deacons, along with their wives and children, gathered in New Orleans, LA, for the 2018 National Diaconate Congress.  This year’s meeting was significant because 2018 is the fiftieth anniversary of the restoration of the permanent Diaconate in the Latin Rite Catholic Church.  Nationwide, there are  18,500 permanent deacons in the United States.  Columnist, blogger, and Deacon, Greg Kandra, shares some of his experiences of the Congress.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, presided at the opening Mass.  In his comments to the deacons before the end of the celebration of the Eucharist, he challenged them “to be an evangelizing force in the world.”  The homilist at the opening Mass, was Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans.  He called on the deacons present to be the “conscience” of the Church; bringing it’s attention to the needs of the poor and powerless.  “All Christians are called to charity by their baptism, but deacons lead us as a church in the works of charity,” he said. “We look to you in some ways as the conscience of the church. We ask you to find those who are in need and to invite us to serve them. And when we forget them or fail to be people of charity as a church, we ask you to be our conscience and to call us back to what God asks.”

It is a challenge that all of us deacons need to accept, and act on.  Through reading and reflecting on the Scriptures, through prayer and being open to the Spirit, to realize new ways to serve the poor; to be a voice for the poor.  To seek from the Holy Spirit the strength to reach out of our “comfort zones,” and encounter the poor where they are.  Now is the time for us discover what new ways are open to us on how to live and minister as husbands, parents, and deacons.

Servant Church – Diakonia

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, ‘Do you realize what I have done for you?  You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.  If I therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.  (John 13: 12-15)

In the above Gospel passage, and in many others, Jesus stressed that those who follow him, must be willing to serve both those within the faith community, and those who are outside of it.  Throughout all the Gospels, Jesus showed through his healing ministry, that the Messiah in their midst came as a servant to all.  So his Church was also to be a servant to all, providing aid and support to the poor, serving those both within and without the Church.  The Greek word “diakonia,” meaning “service,” has been applied to describe an aspect of life in the Christian Church.  As related in the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostles appointed seven men to serve the Hellenist Christian widows.  In Christian tradition, they became known as the first Deacons.  As the Church grew, so did the number Deacons, performing works of mercy to the poor.  They became an Order in the early Church, an official sign of Church acting as servant to all.

As Europe moved into medieval times, as Christianity became the dominant religion in Western Europe, as bishops and the Pope inherited secular power, changes began to take hold.  The papacy and the episcopacy began to take on the trappings of the nobility; some adopting the view that they, with the nobility, deserve to be served by the serfs and peasants.  The idea of a servant Church almost disappeared; it was preserved by laypersons who were inspired to serve the poor; by some bishops and priests who established hospitals, homes for orphans, lepersariums.   An active Diaconate also declined, becoming a transactional position that a man would acquire for a period of time before being ordained to the priesthood.

With the Second Vatican Council, the concept of a servant Church was reborn.  The Council, and many encyclicals since then, have stressed that all members of the Catholic Church are called to participate in the ministry of service to the poor, the homeless, and the forgotten.  Fulfilling this call can take many forms: giving financial support to charities; volunteering for food pantries and kitchens, homeless shelters and centers; visiting patients in hospitals and nursing homes.  We need to be open to promptings of the Holy Spirit; and discern an opportunity to serve and show mercy.

The Council turned once again to the Order of Deacons, to be a visible sign of being a Servant Church.  About fifty years ago, Pope Paul VI reestablished the permanent Diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church.  Men, married and single, from many countries, including the United States, have stepped up and been ordained.  They are servants to the Church and the world, through liturgical participation, works of charity, preaching and being religion educators.  In the Archdiocese of Boston newspaper, The Pilot, three Deacons have written an excellent column on the Permanent Diaconate of today.  I invite you to go read it.

In our country, in our world, there are people in need, who feel abandoned and discarded.  In such times the world needs a Servant Church, to bring hope and relief.  A Church who follows Our Lord Jesus command; “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

deacon red stole

 

 

 

“I am in Your Midst as One Who Serves.” An Ordination of Deacons – 2017

Deacon ordination 2017 4This past Saturday, my brother Deacons and I gathered at St. Edith Stein Church, in Brockton, MA. We were there to celebrate the ordination of 7 new Deacons for the Archdiocese of Boston. It was being held at St. Edith Stein, rather than at Holy Cross Cathedral, because the cathedral is undergoing a massive interior renovation. St. Edith Stein is a beautiful church, with an interior decoration that you do not see in more modern designed churches. It does have one drawback, very narrow stairs between the basement and main levels. The basement was where we gathered to vest for the ceremony.
Now, it had been raining heavily in eastern Massachusetts on Saturday, but the rain hadDeacon ordination 2017 stopped long enough for us to organize the procession into St. Edith Stein. The church itself was packed with the families and friends of the men to be ordained. A choral group from Holy Cross Cathedral lead the congregation in song, as we walked down the main aisle; bowed before the altar and took our seats

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I have been graced with good spiritual experiences, when I attend Sunday liturgies of the Eucharist, the Mass. But there is something about a grand liturgy, like an ordination, that really draws me into a holy place. Our presider was Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, lead us in prayer. During his homily, he referred to the second Scripture reading, Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 6: verses 1 to 7. The passage describes how the Apostles had the early Christian community name seven men to serve the Hellenist widows. The Apostles laid their hands on the seven chosen men, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. Cardinal Sean noted that it was interesting that we now had before us seven candidates for ordination. He reminded us all that we, as deacons, are called to a life of service, both within the Church, and to the world.

 
After the ordination rite, we previously ordained went up into the sanctuary to welcome our new brothers into the fraternity of Deacons. We are joined together; to be servants by proclaiming the Good News to people, and by living the Good News. We are joined together; to be servants at the Eucharistic altar, to help add to the people’s experience of liturgy, to help distribute the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to the community through Holy Communion. We are joined together, to be servants to the poor, to those in pain and are alone. As a fraternity of deacons, we support each other, and learn from each other. Together, we help the Church bring the Good News to the world.

 

deacon red stole

 

Weekend Coffee Share – July 30, 2017

The water is heated in the Keruig, and coffee is pouring into the cup.
The unpacking is pretty much done, all the cardboard boxes broken down and tossed away.  My books are on the shelves, the ones that survived the culling.  Lately, I have come to the realization that I have not read as many books as I used to.  Now, a lot of my reading is done with this darn smartphone.  I am determined to change that, catch up on the unread books, revisit the read ones.  And hopefully, I will recapture the joy of holding a printed work in my hands.

I am still working at getting a new deacon assignment here in the South Shore.  There are some leads, we will just have to let the process workout.

This will a quick cup tonight.  Hopefully, I will more to write about, more to comment about, next weekend. 

Weekend Coffee Share – Many Changes

It has been a long time since we shared a cup of joe together.  So let me catch you all up on what’s happening.

The first news is that my wife and I are no longer living in Beverly!  We decided that we needed to find a more affordable apartment; and since my job is in Quincy, in the South Shore, we decided to search there.  Long story short, we found an apartment in Bridgewater, MA; and on July 13th, we moved in.  The commute to work is now much easier, less stressful.

The only downside was that I have to leave the three Beverly Catholic parishes I have been serving at since 2012.  Because of the short window of opportunity, we had to move fast on the process; and I had to give very short notice to our parish administrator and the parishioners themselves.  Leaving those people I have been with close to 5 years was very sad.

Now, I am between assignments; and feeling a bit out of sorts.  For two Sundays now, I have participated in the celebration of the Eucharist in the pews, with the congregation, and not at the altar.  It should not make at difference, and it does not make a difference.  But it still feels strange to me right now.

The process of getting a new assignment is longer than I thought. I have to first check a page listing the parishes seeking a deacon, and if any are within striking distance from where I live.  Arrange an interview with the pastor.  Then, if we are in agreement, ask the Archdiocese to assign me to that particular parish.  So, we will see what happens.

As we drain our cups, I will share with you that I still do not have a working computer; and an IPhone does lend itself to long essays.  But I do intend to post a little more frequently.  I hope.

Well, the cups are in the dish rack; and I wish you God’s blessings and peace.

A Wedding Homily – 2017

Welcome, we are all here to witness something awesome!  We have come to witness two unique individuals come forward, and with God’s grace,  become one.  We are about to witness the power of their love for each other, and the power of God’s love, made present here before us; and that should fill us all with awe!
For that is one of the objectives that a celebration of a sacrament is suppose to accomplish.  It is an opportunity to encounter the Divine; through the ordinary objects that our God has created: water, olive oil, bread and wine,..a ring.  A sacrament is also a means by which God transforms the individual or individuals who are receiving the sacrament.  Through the waters of Baptism, we are cleansed of sin, and become born again as a child of God.  Through the anointing with holy oil, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  When we receive consecrated bread and wine, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and become one with Christ.  And in the exchange of rings, which symbolizes the pledge, in love, of a man and a woman to each other, to their union.  And it also symbolizes God’s pledge to you both; that He will be with you always.

For God is the source of all life, and of all love.  And through His Spirit, that love can fill your hearts, your souls, all the way down into the very depths of your being.  The power of God’s Presence within you, the power of His love; will help you experience the joyful times more intensely; will help you through the trying times with more hope.  Remember always the description of love we have just heard from the writings of St. Paul:

“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”                  (1 Corinthians)

Love will never fail, if we continually open our hearts, and be present to God, the Father.  A Dutch priest and author, had a personal revelation; reflecting on when God addressed Jesus, as He was coming up out of the waters of the Jordan River, as His “Beloved.”  And He also calls you, me,  all of us here, “Beloved.”  Whether we have been good or bad; whether we have ignored Him or not; whether we believe in Him or not; He still calls each one of us”Beloved.”

It is by the power of that love; by the gift of His Spirit, that you both have been drawn to this place, to this sacred moment of time.  And we have all been drawn here to witness something awesome.