Commission to Study Possibility of Women Deacons Appointed.

deacon red stoleThe Catholic blogosphere is abuzz with the news from the Vatican, that Pope Francis has appointed a commission of academics to study whether the ordination of women to the Permanent Diaconate is theologically possible.  The commission is made up of six clergymen, and six women, two of whom are religious nuns.  One of the women theologians is Phyllis Zagano, who is an author, and columnist for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.  She has been a long advocate for bringing women into the diaconate.

I personally would like to see women being able to be ordained as deacons.  A vast number of Catholic women are already involved in the service of charity; serving the poor and homeless. Many Catholic women are already involved in the service of Word, through being religious educators; being lectors at Mass; and by the example of their own lives.  Many Catholic women are already involved in service to the Altar, through being extraordinary Eucharistic ministers at the celebration at Mass; and by bringing communion to the homebound.  And I am sure that many of these women, like the men, feel called to deepen this sense of service by becoming deacons.

Now, people should not fool themselves, or have high expectations on how soon this will come about, if at all.  We have just made the very first small step, with a long road ahead for those advocating for women deacons.  But, it is a beginning; may the Holy Spirit guide us!

#Weekend Coffee Share 07/17/2016

deacon coffee mugOver a late night cup of coffee, I would share with you my sadness with the amount of violence that is in the news lately.  The shootings of two black men by police, under circumstances, that on the surface, appear to require further investigation.  We have the killing of five police officers in Dallas, TX.  Then the terror attack on French citizens in the city of Nice, resulting in 84 deaths, and 202 persons injured.  And now we have the killing of 3 officers in Baton Rouge, LA.  Add these incidents to the others that have occurred this year, both in our nation and in the wider world; and one gets the feeling that darkness is increasing in our world.  And it will, if we allow it; the Christophers, a Christian inspirational group, quotes a proverb: “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”  We are called to bring some love, some hope, and some light into our families and our communities.  Be open to the Holy Spirit, let it inspire you, and be open to any opportunity to do some good that may come our way.

Over a cup of coffee, I had planned on sharing a report on Catholic deacons that I saw on PBS’ Religion & Ethics Newsweekly program, but then I read a post written by Deacon Bill Ditewig, in which he pointed out the errors of the report, and made corrections.  Then he issued a challenge to all of us deacons; to be true instruments of peace in this world that is in so much turmoil.

Well, here’s hoping the caffeine does not keep me awake.  See you again over a cup of coffee.

On Retreat – Weekend Coffee Share

Campion Retreat Center 2

Campion Retreat Center

If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell you that last weekend I was at a retreat for Permanent Deacons of the Archdiocese of Boston.  It was held at the Campion Retreat Center in Weston, MA.  The Center is managed by the Society of Jesus, better known at the Jesuits.  It is also where their retirement home is located.  Our retreat master was a Xaverian Brother by the name of Paul Feeney.  When many of us were in formation, he taught the Old Testament class.  For this retreat, he looked at the lives and spiritualities of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton; two American Catholics, whose names were mentioned by Pope Francis during his address to the joint session of Congress.  Dorothy Day, a Catholic social activist, was a co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.  She practiced every day, the Corporal Works of Mercy, feeding the hungry,

79px-Dorothy_Day_1916

Dorothy Day

comforting those in distress, clothing the naked.  But there was more to it than that, she and her followers strove to change society, to make it a place where it “was easy for people to be good.”  Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk, who wrote a spiritual biography in the 1940’s, that continues inspire people.  He was a prolific writer, and a mystic; combining the two, he produced writings that helped guide many into a deeper spiritual life.  He also wrote on matters of peace and justice, that gave support and spiritual sustenance to many Catholic activists, the late Father Daniel Berrigan, SJ, being one of them.

If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell you that I had planned on writing about this

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton

sooner.  I packed the old laptop and brought it with me.  Only to find out that Center does not have WiFi available for retreatants.  Just as well, the weekend was suppose to a time of quiet and reflection, a time of sacred reading and prayer.  And I tried to take advantage of the opportunity handed me.  And it was a spiritually refreshing weekend.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while I was waiting at the main entrance to be picked up, a horse came galloping by, followed by a dismounted horsewoman, and some bicyclists.  There was a horse show going on down the road; I guess this big fellah had other ideas.  Fortunately, they caught him before he could be struck by a car, or run over a retired Jesuit, out for his morning constitutional.

If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell that no matter how great a spiritual experience of a retreat may have been, life is waiting for you when you leave.  I have a book entitled “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.”  For me, it should read, “After the Ecstasy, Monday morning, the commute, the cubicle!”  The challenge of any retreat experience, is to strive to make what you learn, what you experience, a part of your daily life.  That is something I am still struggling with.

Well, the coffee mug is empty, maybe tomorrow I will bring another steaming mug over.  We will see.

#Weekendcoffeeshare First Timer

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this is the first time I am writing a post for this.  I would also share with that this is first post I have written in over a month!  There was a time that I was posting at least monthly.  That I really got into the Blogging U. courses.  That I now am having a hard time coming up with anything to write about; to share an opinion about, or have the energy to sit myself at the keyboard.  That there was a time that I had high hopes for my blog, but now I wonder if all the reading, the posting was worth it.

If we were having coffee, I would let you know that I am an ordained Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church.  I would tell you that last Sunday, I baptized three beautiful little babies (Two boys, and a girl), and welcomed them into the Church, into the Body of Christ.  How I invited the parents, the godparents, and guests to open their hearts to the miracle that was happening before them; and be aware of the love of God they were witnessing.

If we were having coffee, I would tell that I need to get through this writer’s block soon, because next weekend, I am officiating at a wedding.  I will be preaching a homily, and I need to write it this week.  I will tell that I turning to the Holy Spirit, and asking her to blow hard and breakdown the roadblocks I have in my head and soul.

As I drain my coffee mug, I would tell you that I am typing this on one of the computers in the parish office.  I have a desktop at home and an inherited laptop; both have had long service, and are kinda cranky in their old age.  Anyway, I have go back to the church soon, to prepare for the next celebration of Mass.

I hope to be here next weekend, with another cup of coffee.

Reflecting Again on Why I Write.

Writing

Writing

Why do I write?  That is a very interesting question today, especially since I have been finding it to sit in front of a keyboard, or to pick up a pen.  It was not too long ago, that I would be posting on my blog every other day, if not every day.  I have a serious case of writer’s block, which is why I am trying out Writing 101.

Why do I want to write?  Because sometimes I feel have something to share with the rest of the world.  As a Christian Catholic, a Secular Franciscan, and a Deacon, I feel the need to share my experiences of my encounters with God through Scripture, the Eucharist, prayer, and life.  I want to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a world that more skeptical, that is a little darker, more violent, and where the poor and powerless have no voice.  I want share the Good News with those who are struggling with the challenges of everyday life; by sharing my own struggles with living the faith daily.

I want to write about, and express my belief that the Catholic Church, this community of believers, is still relevant for our society today.  While not turning a blind eye to its sins and failings, to express the joys, comfort, and inspirations I have experienced for myself.  And I want to share my opinions with a voice that accepts others, whether they agree with me or not.

When I write, I hope I am becoming, like St. Francis of Assisi, a Herald of the Great King, Jesus Christ!

From a Franciscan Perspective: “Preach it man!”

Lawrence of Brindisi“Preaching, therefore, is a duty that is apostolic, angelic, Christian, divine.  The word of God, is replete with manifold blessings, since it is, so to speak, a treasure of all goods.  It is the source of faith, hope, charity, all virtues, all gifts of the Holy Spirit, all beatitudes of the Gospel, all good works, all the rewards of life, all the praise: Welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you.

(From a sermon by Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, OFM CAP)

July 21st is the Feast day of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, a Franciscan Capuchin priest, born in Italy in the year 1559.  A scholar, he was famous for his mastery of many languages.  Because of this, he was sent into various European countries, on preaching missions.  He became known as an effective and forceful preacher.

As an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church, one of my ministries is to proclaim the Gospel during the celebration of the Eucharist; and occasionally to preach on that reading from the Gospel.  The above quote from Saint Lawrence strikes a chord within me; because the act of preaching can have an effect not only on the congregation hearing the homily, but also on the preacher himself.  I prepare a week before I am scheduled to preach, prayerfully going over the Scripture readings for that Sunday.  I try to open my mind and my heart to what the Word, Jesus Christ, wishes to reveal to me.  I reflect on how the Gospel speaks not only to myself, but how it will speak to those sitting in front of me.  What is that they need to hear; what words of comfort they need to experience.  There have been times that I will delete a whole written page, because I have been inspired to take a different tack.

To preach is far different than any other type of public speaking.  I stand behind the pulpit, with my written text; as I look over the people before me, I whisper a little prayer.  Then, more often than not, the Holy Spirit takes over, guiding me, inspiring me; the words on the paper, takes on a life of their own.  When I am done, I know that for me, it was a holy, sacred moment.

I have come to realize that there are many ways one can preach the Good News.  It is why I am attracted to blogging; it is another way to share my experience of God’s love.  And it is becoming a means of hearing about others experiences.  And finally, the other means we all have to preach the Gospel, by the way each one of us strive to live in our daily lives; with our families, in our workplaces, in the stores, and on the streets.

When a Deacon Made a Difference

arialdoWhile surfing various topics on the Wikipedia, I came across an entry for Saint Arialdo, an Italian deacon who lived in the 11th Century.  Born of a noble family, he was well educated, attending a couple of universities.  He became a deacon in the Diocese of Milan, and joined a group of Milanese citizens with the goal of reforming the diocesan clergy, and Milan’s corrupt bishop.  The efforts by Arialdo and his compatriots eventually lead to the excommunication of the bishop.  On June 27, 1066, his henchmen would later ambush and assassinate Arialdo, while he was on a journey to Rome.  In 1067, Pope Alexander II would declare Arialdo a martyr and saint.

Even, in the early Middle Ages, deacons had an influential affect on the life of the Church.  The Diaconate may be different these days, but we deacons are still called to bring new life to our local parishes; by our ministries, and by the way we each live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Reflection on Last Weekend’s Retreat

As I have posted previously, members of the Diaconate classes ordained in 2012, 2013, and 2014, are required to come together for a jointEnders Island Chapel retreat.  This year’s retreat was held at Saint Edmund’s Retreat Center, on Enders Island, Mystic, CT.  Our retreat director was Father William Murphy, who is on the staff of St. Pope John XXIII National Seminary, MA.

Some random thoughts from the retreat:

The Church’s primary message, received from Jesus Christ, what we Deacons are to proclaim by our words and actions: God loves us, God cares for us.

No matter what matter troubles afflict us, no matter what anxieties there are in our lives, “we are being held in God’s arms, we are safe!”

In the Book of Exodus, we see the Hebrews threatened by Pharaoh’s army, God tells them to stand firm, and not to be afraid, and He will save them.  God is also telling us to stand firm in the face of pain and suffering we may be experiencing; He will be there to help us.  God wants us bring all thing to Him, our joys and our fears.  In the Gospels, Jesus promises that He will be there to help us with our burdens.

As Deacons, we are to be witnesses of the Love of God.  When we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, by the words we speak to others, by the care we give to others, we are witnessing to God’s love.  When we help to raise people up from their burdens, we are witnessing to the love and hope that comes to us through Jesus Christ.

I know that for some these words may sound hollow; I will admit that at times the road ahead right now looks dark threatening.  But I also know that God cares for me, and is trying to help me, right here, right now, if only I just open my heart and soul to his Presence.  I trust in the words of Jesus, when today, He promises to be with me, and will be with me till the end of the agEnders Chapel JFJe.

This is the truth all of us Christians, especially we ministers of His Word must witness to, at every moment of every day.

A task Father gave to us Deacons was to remember the words from our Ordination and live them: “receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ whose heralds you have become.  Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

The retreat was definitely a time to practice deeper prayer, to be more present and open to my God.  The challenge now is carrying that experience forward into my daily life. Enders Island 3

Can We Linger for Awhile?

TabernacleKissing your feet with all the love I am capable of, I beg you to show the greatest possible reverence and honor for the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things, whether on earth or in the heavens, have been brought to peace and reconciled with Almighty God (cf. Col 1:20). (St. Francis of Assisi, Letter to a General Chapter. Omnibus of Sources)

Times that I have lingered. Before I continue on, a point of information for those who are not Catholic. The Church teaches, and Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is truly present, and remains present in the Bread and Wine, the moment the priest repeats Jesus’ words: “Take and eat; this is my body,” and “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant,…” (Matt 26: 26-28) At the end of the distribution of Communion, any remaining consecrated Wine is consumed; any remaining consecrated Hosts are placed in a container, called a ciborium, and placed in a tabernacle.
As a Deacon, I assist at two Masses on Sunday morning. After the first Mass, I get everything set up for second Mass. One of my responsibilities is to check the ciborium, to see if I need to set out more unconsecrated hosts for Communion. I open the tabernacle; look into the ciborium, then close the tabernacle. It is at that moment that I may just stand there, because I am aware of a Presence, of Christ’s Presence. I cannot describe the experience, I just know, and that I do not want to leave the spot. Eventually, after a few minutes, the Lord lets me go, and I go on with my work.
I believe that God is always asking us to linger for just a moment, and be open to His Presence. Sometimes, we stop and open our minds and hearts; sometimes we let the anxieties, the cares, and the distractions of this world get in the way. We rush about, here and there, doing this or that. If Christ was to knock on the door of our heart, would we linger?
Linger