Friday, March 24, 2017

Enjoying the Ride

I thought it was about time for an update on how things were going on the path to becoming a deacon.  Many people I've bumped into recently have asked the question "How's Deacon formation going?"  I normally tell them it's going well and exchange a few pleasantries.  But it's not a bad idea to reflect a little more deeply on how it's really going.

Short answer, so far so good.  I feel like I've grown a lot spiritually.  I'm certainly learning a lot, especially this semester in the course on the Hebrew Bible (better known as the Old Testament to Catholics).  But this Lent I'm finding I'm getting more from my Lenten practices than I have in the past.  I think that's all part of the journey.

I find my spiritual life expanding greatly, more that I would have expected.  Part of that, I believe, is due to a commitment to praying the Divine Office morning and evening.  For those unaware, that's the official prayer of the Church (also called Liturgy of the Hours) performed by priests and those in monastic/communal life.  This Lent especially, the themes of mercy and turning away from sin have really resonated with me.  That's probably the point, but it's a good thing.

I've also found I'm taking more time for prayer.  This is also a good thing.  I'm trying to meditate while praying the Rosary as a Lenten practice and it has yielded unexpected results.  Another thing we've been doing as a family is trying to celebrate more.  Part of the spirituality course I took last semester was a paper called a Rule of Life where we lay out some spiritual practices we'd like to implement in our lives.  Celebration was one of mine.  To me that meant doing more things with friends and family to celebrate life in general and be together more.  So we've done some outings as a family or planned things at home where we could all enjoy some time together.  And I think that's been helpful as well.  At a minimum it allows us to appreciate it more.

Overall I feel like there's been a lot of spiritual growth in me the last few months.  Part of that has translated into figuring out how to serve others.  One of the ministries of a deacon is service to the community.  Part of my personal discernment is to figure out what that is.  This summer, I'll be working in the jail ministry as my diaconal service project.  We try out different ministries each summer during the length of the formation.  I've talked to some of the guys that did it last summer and it sounds very interesting.  I like the idea of being involved in a ministry that focuses on individuals.   I think one of the issues with our nation right now is that we too easily put people in a group of "others": Muslims, immigrants, poor, etc.  When we do that, we lose sight that these groups are made up of individual people, and that these people have an inherent dignity.  The amorphous "they" are easy to forget about, individuals are not.  So I feel like I need to be involved in a ministry where I can impact individuals, real people.  From what I've heard so far, prison ministry will accomplish that.

So far I still feel like I'm on the right path.  Whenever I'm involved in diaconal classes or activities, I feel like I'm in the right place.  And as long as that continues, I keep walking this path.


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