Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Misjudged your limits"

With everything happening I have to admit that over the course of the past week I haven't given blogging much of a thought. I began my first (of three) three week long annual residency for my doctorate of ministry here at Mount Angel Abbey in Mount Angel, Oregon. The town of Mount Angel where the Benedictine Abbey and seminary are located is in between Portland and Salem, Oregon. How the residency works is that we do one class per week, all day Monday-Friday. My first class was taught by Msgr. Paul McPartlan, S.T.L., D.Phil: "Communion Ecclesiology Today." Msgr McPartlan, who is a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster in Great Britain, currently holds the Carl J. Peter Chair of Systematic Theology and Ecumenism at The Catholic University of America. Rather than try to give a synopsis of the course, let me just state that ecclesiology is a vast domain. Nonetheless, communion ecclesiology is not new to me. It is the theology in which I have been formed practically from the time I began reading theology and engaging in pastoral ministry.

St. Stephen, by Giacomo Cavedone

One of the benefits of being a resident student is that I have a lot of time for research and reading outside of class. This enabled to begin researching and even writing my major paper for ecclesiology, which is on the diaconate. As it turns out, Msgr McPartlan has done quite a bit of research and writing on the permanent diaconate. Especially given the uncertainty as to whether I have written thus far will survive in the final draft, I don't mind sharing an excerpt of what I have composed so far:
Section twenty-nine of Lumen Gentium is the final section of the third chapter of the constitution, which is entitled, “On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and in Particular on the Episcopate.” Pointing to several ancient sources in the footnotes, this section begins: “At a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, upon whom hands are imposed ‘not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service.’” This fairly straightforward sentence is the key to understanding the sacramental nature of the diaconate and, hence, the key to resolving many, if not all, of the tensions generated by its restoration. Existing at the lower end of the hierarchy, in a very real sense, puts deacons in closer proximity to the laity. There are, of course, difficulties inherent in designating higher and lower in the Church when one considers the Council’s teaching in Lumen Gentium that “all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ” (par. 32). Nonetheless, it seems evident that there is significance to the placement of the Constitution’s section exclusively on the diaconate just prior to the beginning of the fourth chapter, which is entitled “The Laity,” especially when one considers section twenty-nine is preceded by the treatments of the episcopate and the presbyterate
It was on 18 June 1967, 49 years ago today, Bl. Pope Paul VI promulgated the Apostolic Letter Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem motu proprio, by which he permitted the establishment of a restored and renewed diaconate as permanent order of ministry in the Church, which could, with papal approval, be conferred on married men: on 1Only because I love The Cure and I heard this song played at the end of an episode of "Moone Boy" before leaving home last weekend, and perhaps because I miss my family a bit.

Also, yesterday was my Dad's birthday. It was his fifth birthday since his passing. Sunday is Father's Day. Sorry for the amalgam.

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