“I am in Your Midst as One Who Serves.” An Ordination of Deacons – 2017

Deacon ordination 2017 4This past Saturday, my brother Deacons and I gathered at St. Edith Stein Church, in Brockton, MA. We were there to celebrate the ordination of 7 new Deacons for the Archdiocese of Boston. It was being held at St. Edith Stein, rather than at Holy Cross Cathedral, because the cathedral is undergoing a massive interior renovation. St. Edith Stein is a beautiful church, with an interior decoration that you do not see in more modern designed churches. It does have one drawback, very narrow stairs between the basement and main levels. The basement was where we gathered to vest for the ceremony.
Now, it had been raining heavily in eastern Massachusetts on Saturday, but the rain hadDeacon ordination 2017 stopped long enough for us to organize the procession into St. Edith Stein. The church itself was packed with the families and friends of the men to be ordained. A choral group from Holy Cross Cathedral lead the congregation in song, as we walked down the main aisle; bowed before the altar and took our seats

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I have been graced with good spiritual experiences, when I attend Sunday liturgies of the Eucharist, the Mass. But there is something about a grand liturgy, like an ordination, that really draws me into a holy place. Our presider was Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, lead us in prayer. During his homily, he referred to the second Scripture reading, Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 6: verses 1 to 7. The passage describes how the Apostles had the early Christian community name seven men to serve the Hellenist widows. The Apostles laid their hands on the seven chosen men, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. Cardinal Sean noted that it was interesting that we now had before us seven candidates for ordination. He reminded us all that we, as deacons, are called to a life of service, both within the Church, and to the world.

 
After the ordination rite, we previously ordained went up into the sanctuary to welcome our new brothers into the fraternity of Deacons. We are joined together; to be servants by proclaiming the Good News to people, and by living the Good News. We are joined together; to be servants at the Eucharistic altar, to help add to the people’s experience of liturgy, to help distribute the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to the community through Holy Communion. We are joined together, to be servants to the poor, to those in pain and are alone. As a fraternity of deacons, we support each other, and learn from each other. Together, we help the Church bring the Good News to the world.

 

deacon red stole

 

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Weekend Coffee Share – Many Changes

It has been a long time since we shared a cup of joe together.  So let me catch you all up on what’s happening.

The first news is that my wife and I are no longer living in Beverly!  We decided that we needed to find a more affordable apartment; and since my job is in Quincy, in the South Shore, we decided to search there.  Long story short, we found an apartment in Bridgewater, MA; and on July 13th, we moved in.  The commute to work is now much easier, less stressful.

The only downside was that I have to leave the three Beverly Catholic parishes I have been serving at since 2012.  Because of the short window of opportunity, we had to move fast on the process; and I had to give very short notice to our parish administrator and the parishioners themselves.  Leaving those people I have been with close to 5 years was very sad.

Now, I am between assignments; and feeling a bit out of sorts.  For two Sundays now, I have participated in the celebration of the Eucharist in the pews, with the congregation, and not at the altar.  It should not make at difference, and it does not make a difference.  But it still feels strange to me right now.

The process of getting a new assignment is longer than I thought. I have to first check a page listing the parishes seeking a deacon, and if any are within striking distance from where I live.  Arrange an interview with the pastor.  Then, if we are in agreement, ask the Archdiocese to assign me to that particular parish.  So, we will see what happens.

As we drain our cups, I will share with you that I still do not have a working computer; and an IPhone does lend itself to long essays.  But I do intend to post a little more frequently.  I hope.

Well, the cups are in the dish rack; and I wish you God’s blessings and peace.

On Retreat

April had been a rough month.  During Holy Week, I came down with flu, and lost my voice.  So I was not able to assist at the Holy Week Services.  Getting over the flu took a lot out of me, physically and spiritually.  So it was probably a good thing that the Archdiocese of Boston annual Deacon retreat took place this weekend.

It was held at the Jesuit Campion Retreat Center, on Weston, MA.  Our retreat director was Brother Paul Feeney, CFX, who is popular with the Diaconate community, both as an educator and Retreat master.

His theme was what we can learn from spiritual master’s Evelyn Underhill, Dutch priest, Henri Nouwen; and how their writings can help us renew our spiritual lives.

It was also an opportunity to recharge my own spiritual life.

Questioning The Sign Again!


Once again, Mother Nature has tried to play an “April Fools!” joke on New England.  This time, the joke was a little, compared to the one we received 20 years ago!

Still, I think they should rewrite the message on this sign to read: “Welcome Spring???”

On Retreat – Weekend Coffee Share

Campion Retreat Center 2

Campion Retreat Center

If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell you that last weekend I was at a retreat for Permanent Deacons of the Archdiocese of Boston.  It was held at the Campion Retreat Center in Weston, MA.  The Center is managed by the Society of Jesus, better known at the Jesuits.  It is also where their retirement home is located.  Our retreat master was a Xaverian Brother by the name of Paul Feeney.  When many of us were in formation, he taught the Old Testament class.  For this retreat, he looked at the lives and spiritualities of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton; two American Catholics, whose names were mentioned by Pope Francis during his address to the joint session of Congress.  Dorothy Day, a Catholic social activist, was a co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.  She practiced every day, the Corporal Works of Mercy, feeding the hungry,

79px-Dorothy_Day_1916

Dorothy Day

comforting those in distress, clothing the naked.  But there was more to it than that, she and her followers strove to change society, to make it a place where it “was easy for people to be good.”  Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk, who wrote a spiritual biography in the 1940’s, that continues inspire people.  He was a prolific writer, and a mystic; combining the two, he produced writings that helped guide many into a deeper spiritual life.  He also wrote on matters of peace and justice, that gave support and spiritual sustenance to many Catholic activists, the late Father Daniel Berrigan, SJ, being one of them.

If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell you that I had planned on writing about this

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton

sooner.  I packed the old laptop and brought it with me.  Only to find out that Center does not have WiFi available for retreatants.  Just as well, the weekend was suppose to a time of quiet and reflection, a time of sacred reading and prayer.  And I tried to take advantage of the opportunity handed me.  And it was a spiritually refreshing weekend.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while I was waiting at the main entrance to be picked up, a horse came galloping by, followed by a dismounted horsewoman, and some bicyclists.  There was a horse show going on down the road; I guess this big fellah had other ideas.  Fortunately, they caught him before he could be struck by a car, or run over a retired Jesuit, out for his morning constitutional.

If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell that no matter how great a spiritual experience of a retreat may have been, life is waiting for you when you leave.  I have a book entitled “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.”  For me, it should read, “After the Ecstasy, Monday morning, the commute, the cubicle!”  The challenge of any retreat experience, is to strive to make what you learn, what you experience, a part of your daily life.  That is something I am still struggling with.

Well, the coffee mug is empty, maybe tomorrow I will bring another steaming mug over.  We will see.

A Wedding Homily

St. Margaret

St. Margaret of Scotland Church

Last Saturday, April 23rd, at St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Beverly; I had the privilege and honor to officiate at the wedding of a very nice couple.  It was my first wedding ceremony as a deacon, and to say I was a little nervous, would be putting it mildly.  So I put everything in the hands of the Lord, and stepped out into the sanctuary and greeted the handsome groom and beautiful bride.  The ceremony was both simple and powerful.  A single violin provided the music; and the old church never looked better.  The following is the homily I delivered, although I did change it a little as I preached:

 

My friends, we are a gathered here today, to witness something awesome!  We have two unique individuals, Jaclyn and Michael, who soon will become one.  They have been brought together by the power of love; they will be joined together by the power of love.  We are to about to witness, we are about to celebrate a sacrament, the sacrament of marriage.  A sacrament, instituted by Jesus Christ, when it is celebrated, reveals and makes present the divine reality they signify, a visible sign of the God’s grace at work within us.  And we will soon witness the grace of the Father’s love at work within Jaclyn and Michael.  And they are going to be changed down to the core of their being by the grace of God, transformed, and forever changed.  They will be a new creation.

It is love, perfected by God’s grace, which binds them together.  And we need to understand that the love I am speaking about not the sentimental love one sees in Hallmark cards.  It is the type of love that St. Paul describes in his letter to the Corinthians. 

“Love is patient, love is kind…It does not seek its own interests.  It is not quick tempered….It bears all things… believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  (1st Cor ). 

This is what love should be for all of us, in all of our relationships, but especially in a marital relationship.  But I will tell you now, after 27 years of being with the love of my life, with all the joys and happiness, there can still be challenges, there can be some struggles, because we can never know what curve balls life will toss at us.  Even the day to day of living together will bring happy surprises, but also some challenges.  But I can also testify to the fact that you will each have some new discoveries about the other; the majority of which will bring joy and happiness in your life, but some that may drive you up the wall.  It is love that will keep you both on an even keel; it is love that will see you both through.  It is love that will keep the joy alive for both of you.  And as St. Paul says, “Love never fails.”

For love to work though, our hearts, our souls, must be continually open to its source; open to God’s grace through Jesus Christ the Son.  Jesus Christ, who is the prime example of what it means to love, who emptied Himself for love of us all.  We encounter Him in Word and Sacrament , we encounter Him in quiet moments.  And in that encounter, we are refreshed.

It is appropriate that we celebrate this wedding here in this church, named for St. Margaret of Scotland.  She is one of our rare laywoman saints.  She is an example of what a Catholic marriage is all about.  Born in England, she would become Queen of Scotland, after marrying King Malcolm III of Scotland in 1070.  It is said that they had a very affectionate relationship, which was rare for royal marriages of those times.  Together, they had eight children.  She is said to have had a civilizing effect on the Scottish court.  She had a strong spiritual life, and she was known charitable works, supported by her husband.  A true marriage is life enriching for both husband and wife.  And a true Catholic marriage is life giving, by having children, or reaching out to others in need. 

The wonder, the joy of the love of God is made manifest in many ways.  One of them is by this sacrament we are about to celebrate, in what this couple is about to celebrate.  Let us join together, praying for Jaclyn and Michael, for their joy and happiness.  And let us witness something awesome!