When I think about being a Permanent Deacon, a job comes to mind. A Waiter! He is preparing the Lord's Table, working hard to make sure everything is just right. His mission is to take care of the guests by helping them go through the menu and make just the right choices. How can I help you today!!
For some people Birthdays maybe something they wished to forget, for others like myself I find them to be very special indeed. Today I wish to congratulate Rick on his Birthday and a wish that he may have had a truly enjoyable and blessed day.
Rick is a member of or family of candidates, and on behalf of our community I ask you for prayers and well wishes for Rick!
It is Memorial day, and it is time to give thanks, reflect, and honor those who had given their lives for Freedom. I am blessed to have a Dad who was a part of the greatest generation, having served his adopted country in World War II. I say adopted as I am the son of an immigrant from Canada.
I attended Mass this morning to pray for those who have died and for those who continue to answer the call to serve our nation. Fr. Mark was the celebrant and as usual he seems to teach me in so many ways. With him as my spiritual director, I have learned so much through our informal meetings and simply through observing his movements.
Today we have the reading of the rich young man (one of my favorites), and Father shared how our lives have changed over the years. We all used to have one TV, one car, one bathroom, etc. We have changed in that we have avoided challenges and confrontations in our lives. Now that we have all these little perks, we can avoid these issues and feel even more independent. Good, no!
Our Lord met the rich man and invited him into the fire. The counter cultural message of loving your enemies, giving up some of your free time to share your talents, and avoid the temptation of complacency. Like gold tested in fire to purify it, we need these challenges, these uncomfortable moments, that eventually bring about the best in all of us.
On this special day, this day that reminds us all about facing challenges, making sacrifices, respecting honor, and the Love of freedom, I share with all of you the same challenge.......
This past Tuesday evening marked the end of our formal classes for the year. The final class focused upon death, euthanasia, and some insights on what we could possibly expect as Deacons. Little did I know that these words would be coming out of me in just a few days.
This past Sunday while doing Hospital Ministry I visited along with my Dad my Uncle. He was looking fine for the most part, trying to recover from pneumonia. In a matter of a few days things got worse for him and I was told that the family had to make some very difficult decisions.
During the day on Wednesday my Mom stopped by at the store to share the unpleasant news. We spoke about his condition and then she said..."You need to go to the hospital, you need to go see him!" My Mom hasn't been this direct with me in such a long time, so I agreed that I should be there. Mom told me she would have supper ready for me and then I could make the trip up to the hospital.
After work I headed home to change up and then went to my folks for supper. Soon thereafter I traveled to the hospital thinking that I was being called to be there and that I would probably be staying for just a short time.
Well, our plans and God's plan aren't always on the same page. I was there with two of my cousins and my sister. They were a little surprised to see me, but very happy. My cousins talked so much about their Dad, my Dad, our grandparents, and their memories. My uncle was comfortable and resting. The stories and memories seemed to help them through this time, and then we discovered that my Uncle had passed away. It was very difficult for them, as they questioned themselves and felt uneasy. Call it what you will but many of the things we discussed came directly from what I learned on Tuesday evening. The words were there and they offered comfort and hope for them.
I was there with all of them until about midnight that evening. On the trip home I couldn't help but think about and thank the Lord for the words He gave me. I felt ready to deal with something very difficult and realized that indeed the words will be given whenever the time comes!
Our community has only two short years to ready ourselves for a lifetime of service. After this experience, I'm realizing that two years won't really be enough, and that we will have to trust in the Holy Spirit to guide us.
Today we had two visitors to Celebrate with us at the 9 am Mass. Actually one visitor and a local boy leading the way. Bishop Peter and Fr. Jason (another Berlin Boy) made the trip to St. Anne's Church, and what a celebration it was. Bishop Peter is a very charismatic, down to earth man that has a wonderful way of drawing people to him. I made sure to bring Mom and Dad, and I wanted to sit up front so they could see him and hear him better. This will be at least the third time I've heard him preach and I don't believe I would ever tire hearing from him.
At the end of the Mass we were treated to some "insider news" from Fr. Jason. He spoke of a new initiative to pray for vocations in the diocese. There will be four events throughout out the state, with the final event culminating with day long activities. He said there will be thousands of pilgrims who will be coming to participate. We will have Eucharistic Adoration, a Mass with the Bishop at 3 pm and a march through the streets with the Blessed Sacrament. This reminded me of my younger years in the parish. The day will be guided by our Grandmother St. Anne and the location will be here in Berlin. We were told to spread the news and to invite everyone to come to Berlin and be a part of the Blessed event.
I've mentioned in the past that Bishop Peter stated that Berlin is a "nest" for vocations, as there have been so many in the past, and there are many still serving the Diocese. At the end of the Mass Bishop Peter yelled "YEAH BERLIN!", and a thunderous applause was heard throughout. As your emissary from the "nest" I urge you all to make the trip to my City and come to share your faith, prayers, fellowship, and Love with all of us.
We will be celebrating on the feast of St. Anne, Christ's grandmother, our grandmother!Fr. Jason stated "who doesn't love their grandmother?" When you hear her calling you, and asking you to come to Berlin to Celebrate her grandson, please come and join us! (More details will be made as soon as they are available)
If the day had just ended with this, I would have been happy. It's my turn for hospital ministry today and it was very enjoyable and very special indeed. I'm always impressed by someone who just doesn't talk a good talk. Once again our Bishop, is a living example of Christ's message of love. I was the lead off hitter in the hospital, and Bishop Peter batted cleanup. In my estimation he hit a home run with the patients. I'm sure he's a very busy man, but he showed he isn't too busy for Christ's children.
If you're getting the idea that I'm pretty enthusiastic today, you betcha! So what could top this today? Who knows, the day isn't over yet!
Well as the old saying goes " were getting into the homestretch" with only 2 classes remaining. My assistant and I were discussing the year, and she has noticed a change in me. She said, "don't take this wrong, but you're not so stressed out as last year, and with double the travel time it's kind of amazing you're holding up so well!"This is the second time she tells me this and that I share it with you, so I'm taking this one as a sign from the Lord to keep moving forward. I have to admit that even though I may look like I'm holding up well, the grind and the fatigue is setting in. This is something Mike and I shared on Tuesday evening.
This course will definitely be the best of the year for various reasons. No cancellations, excellent connections, a message we can sink our teeth into, and also a message that is very challenging in all levels. This one has less reading assignments in terms of pages, but they are oh so powerful. If the intention was to create great inner reflection and turmoil.................................mission accomplished!" By turmoil, I actually mean something very good. I'm getting close to being 52 and I guess "you can teach and old dog new tricks!"
If I had to tell you something that has changed me by this experience, it would have to be a message delivered to us by our professor. "The greatest sin is complacency!" I have never heard that one ever in my life, but it ties in so well with the Gospel message. We are constantly be challenged by the fact that no matter where we go or what we do, we will never, nor must we ever feel we have done a great job, or that we have done enough. For a man who loves challenges this one doesn't frighten me. I could look at it feeling a little hopeless knowing that it will be impossible to take care of everything, or I can remember that in all my best successes in my personal, business, and spiritual life there was always someone there to guide me and work with me to get the job done.
Our professor also said one more life changing message from Christ..
"We as individuals can't change the world,
but all of us as a community can,
and we will bring more souls to Christ from what we do,
than what we say!
Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis,
PS, when I shared this class with my best friend, he offered one thing to me.....
"If you ever get ordained, don't ever get complacent in your ministry!"
We are getting very close to the end of the year with the Rite of Lector coming around the corner. There are only three classes left in our Moral Theology course and without a doubt this is "the best" one of the year. As the old saying goes, "saving the best for last." I'm not downplaying the other courses, but the mixture of the topic, the excellent connections, and the professor we have have, made it an easy choice for me.
I popped into the parish office two days ago and I was greeted by the following comment from the parish secretary...."hurry up and finish we need you now!" There are going to be seven funerals from Friday morning to Saturday afternoon in town, and I was told five of them could be done by the Deacons. Even with two priests in our parish, there is a tremendous need for Deacons in our community, which is probably why the Spirit guided two of us to answer the call.
Our journey's to Plymouth have been for the most part uneventful, except for the part of gaining something very special. When you have an hour and half to get somewhere there's a lot of sharing that can go on, and there was. I couldn't have asked for a better friend, brother in Christ to share this journey with. The Spirit keeps moving us, inspiring us, and pushing us to be something more than we have ever imagined. Thursday night Mike was the co-pilot and we share duties on leading evening prayer on the ride down. After he finished I asked him if he felt the same way I did about a couple of words in one of the psalms? The words "bridle and bit" caught his attention also. It's amazing how you can read something more than once and then it finally sparks something inside of you.
Yesterday, I read the psalm once again and it answered for me and for our parish secretary why this journey is taking so long. I will just share a few lines from Psalm 32......
"I will instruct you and teach you
the way you should go;
I will give you counsel
with my eye upon you.
Be not like horse and mule, unintelligent,
needing bridle and bit
else they will not approach you.
Many sorrows has the wicked
but he who trusts in the Lord,
loving mercy surrounds him."
So as all 22 of us continue this journey we pray that if we are blessed enough to be ordained our bridle's and bits will be removed and the Lord's loving mercy that surrounds us will be seen by those who will approach us.
Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis,
PS, the Lord's eye was certainly upon us on Thursday evening as Mike and I saw one of His lovely creatures staring at us on I 93 after class, and then darting away!
Yesterday, I ended my posting by saying "who knows what God has planned for us?". As usual I would find out later that day. You see, all I had planned for was a nice quiet day with Terry. We picked up more roses, her second favorite flower, and we rearranged the garden a bit. Roses, as you all now need pruning, and a little more effort to produce a wonderful flower. It was a gorgeous day and we both loved just getting our hands in the dirt and pruning things a bit. We had made plans to take my folks to the 4 pm Mass and then go out for supper. My best friend called and asked what we were doing for supper, and the answer was simple, "we can all gather together!" The readings at Mass were very inspiring ,and then I heard the Gospel proclaimed...."He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit." I was really choked up by this, and I just looked up...smiled...laughed..and then thought to myself...."Just and ordinary day, right?".
We then gathered at Mr. Pizza's where my son was working, on his birthday. We also celebrated my buddy's anniversary. It was a great family event! The night was capped off with....what else?....a campfire of course. We gathered with our friends, around a beautiful campfire.
After experiencing a few incredible weeks, I'm at this point right now. I have to face it, this looks and feels just like another ordinary day, and it is good. Nothing spectacular is going on except for one thing, I'm going to spend this day with my wife and enjoy every minute.
In this journey I wasn't expecting every single moment to be a revelation, it would be nice but not real. Even Jesus relaxed, and enjoyed the company of the disciples. So this is going to be one of those days.
I will enjoy this ordinary day and relish in the time I spend with people I love. Who knows what the Lord has planned for any of us today?