Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Visitation and Our Own Service--a Reflection on the 4th Sunday of Advent

I am currently in the application process for the diaconate formation process. Part of the application process is for Abby and myself to be interviewed by two separate deacon couples. We had one interview last week and another this week and they were really informal. Really, more of a conversation between ourselves and the other couple. It was really an enjoyable experience. It afforded me an opportunity to ask questions about the process and about the diaconate. The one question that I had for both couples was "why?"

I expect if you ask an average person what the role of a deacon is they would tell that it's to help the priest at mass. It is much, much more than that though. You see, one of the main roles of a deacon is to provide service. They are to take care of the poor, the ill, the sick, and the forgotten. They are there to provide service to their brother and sister.

So my question goes back to, "why?" Why become a deacon if they do what we are supposed to be doing anyway?? Why go through five years of discernment and become ordained to be a minister of charity and justice?? Aren't we all supposed to be ministers of charity and justice? Aren't we all supposed to be signs of Jesus in the world??

In this week-ends gospel reading, Mary is an example of service to another. Mary has just been told by the angel Gabriel that she will give birth to the Messiah. She is also told by the angel that her cousin Elizabeth is with child. Mary rushes off on a long and perilous journey of several days to help take care of her. This is another example of how we can try to follow Mary's example of taking care of one another. It's an example of selflessness.

I think Elizabeth makes a great point when she says, "And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" If our Blessed Mother---the Mother of God---is able to offer herself in service to Elizabeth then who are we to sit back and do nothing?? We need to step up and offer our assistance to those who need it.

As for my question as to "why?" I dunno. I mean, I have an idea, but I'm not sure. Good thing the discernment process is five years, huh??


  1. Wonderful thoughts. I love the Visitation and its reminders that we are to help take care of each other.

    it's wonderful that you're going through the process for the diaconate. Blessings to you on your journey.

  2. Jamie,
    I too, am in discernment for the permanent diaconate. Your question "why?" is a good one, and one that I think will take the full 5 years to answer (6 here in the Diocese of Tulsa). So far, 1.5 years into this, I think the answer is related to the issue of "being vs. doing." Yes, we are all called to be ministers of charity and justice, but we are not all called to be configured to the Church in a public way. We need to move from "doing what a deacon does" to "being a deacon", which are very different things. An illustration is the difference between acting like a husband and being a husband. You can not BE a husband part-time. It is a state of being, not a set of actions. If we are ordained, being a deacon will be something that informs every action we do, but in a more public way than being Christian does now. Ever been cut off in traffic by an SUV sporting a "WWJD" bumper sticker? Don't be that driver!

    I'll be following your blog as you continue your journey. Your writing is clear and enlightening. I'm getting a lot out of your posts, and I encourage you to continue writing as your journey progresses.

    God Bless you, Brother.