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.