Monday, July 20, 2009

On a personal note

I finally had a weekend! No kidding. Saturday and Sunday I had no appointments, no classes to teach, no homilies to prepare, no Masses to serve at, no Vespers to preside at, nada. It was fantastic!

Saturday we did house and yard work, attended the vigil Mass at our local parish, came home, watched Waking Ned Devine, and just enjoyed each other's company all day. On Sunday we made brunch, did some more tidying up, read and relaxed, then capped the weekend by attending a farewell party for some friends who are moving to Tennessee. It was a very nice evening in a shady back yard with good food, a little wine, great friends, and lots of kids swimming.

I am so glad that I started scaling back at the beginning of June. I am grateful for the several people who have stepped forward to help in our parish religious education ministry. It is definitely the case that many are called, but few respond. Those who do respond out of their generosity and at some cost to themselves show that we do not have to go half-way around the world to be of service to others. As a deacon I can tell you there are plenty of needs right under your nose.

While I face many challenges, especially in my ministry, I am grateful for the opportunities to become more like the One I serve. I am learning the necessity of bearing wrongs patiently. Bearing things makes me aware of the times I have burdened others by being selfish, petty, and harsh. I appreciate very much the advice Deacon Greg receieved from his bishop and passed along in his recent America article:
"Earlier this year, my bishop led a day of recollection for deacons and offered this insight, 'You shouldn’t look at cheese under a microscope because it will make you never want to eat cheese again.' Then he explained that deacons are often exposed to the priesthood as if looking at it under a microscope."
During this Year for Priests, I pray that as a church we grow in the awareness of the price paid and the burdens borne by those who work in ministry, be they bishops, priests, lay ecclesial ministers, or even deacons. Like everything in life, it is easy to be an arm chair bishop, pastor, DRE, preacher, teacher, etc.

It bears pointing out the obvious- there is nothing ventured by never putting yourself in a position to have to make decisions, but nonetheless reserving the right to be critical of those who do, even when we know little or nothing about the details. Gossip, innuendo, and passive aggressive behavior are all things to which we seem magnetically drawn. It takes intention and care on our part to avoid these poisonous behaviours- we're all guilty. It is much more difficult to serve, to care, to try because in so doing we make ourselves vulnerable to others. It is a given that there will always be critics, those who, without ever trying, know they can do it better than you.

There is no way in which we imitate our Lord more perfectly than by making ourselves vulnerable, taking a risk, for the sake of the kingdom, even if all our efforts amount to a pile of ashes in the end, the effort was worth it.


  1. Deacon Scott;
    I was disappointed by your article in America.You state "almost a third of the deacons work full time in minstry". Where did you get those figures? I have been ordained for over 30 years. I know very few deacons in Chicago who are "mini priests" The ministry of service is continuing to grow. Service to the Church is why we were ordained not to be "mini priests".
    Ray Gavin Deacon

  2. Deacon Ray:

    I got those numbers from CARA.

    I think you misunderstood what I wrote about deacons often being seen as "mini-priests". I agree that is not what we are ordained to be. Further, I was not referring to deacons who work in full-time ministry as "mini-priests". Most deacons who work in full-time ministry work in ministries more suited to deacons, like hospitals, prisons, in administration, etc. The mini-priests comment referred to deacons, much like myself, who serve in parishes and do a lot of sacramental ministry, preaching at Mass, etc

    To wit: deacons do what needs to be done, even if that means helping fill in due to the shortage of priests. It is not a knock on deacons, they are being true to their call to service. It does, as I wrote, impede the diaconate from developing a more distinctive ecclesial identity.

    Thanks for the feedback. I encourage you to participate in America's on-line dialogue: The Diaconate Today: A Conversation.



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