I am more aware of the weight of this vocation midway through my fourth year in the formation program. Assuming things progress normally, the day we must put into practice the ideas and concepts we have been studying approaches and seems to approach faster. Jon Jenkins has been a blessing in this area, as his is the first Scripture class we have had where the default position is not skeptical on questions of authorship or historicity. We’re not going to preach to a bunch of Bible intellectuals, and Jon makes the point that we are studying to preach the Gospel not write articles for scholarly journals. That shift brings the reality of being a deacon into sharper focus.
I am more involved in liturgy in my parish, and my parish has a LOT of liturgies. I have been studying with Deacon Whitney on how to serve as Master of Ceremonies. With Passion Sunday, the Chrism Mass, and the Triduum, Holy Week was a whirlwind of activities in which I had an important part and one of responsibility. People were looking to me for leadership in an area where I was uncertain about what exactly I should be doing. So I felt that weight in the liturgical setting.
I am now involved in wedding prep, working with couples to get their paperwork completed in time for their weddings. But it is more than a paperwork job, I have responsibility to help these young couples confirm their desire to have a Catholic wedding. So many of them really do not know their faith. So many of them reject (in their behavior) so much of the Church’s teaching on sexuality. I feel the weight of sharing the good news of those difficult teachings while not just rubber-stamping their desire to have a Catholic wedding ceremony.
Between the parish work of helping couples prepare for marriage and helping the people participate in the liturgy, I am very aware of the need for people to do this work. As people in my parish become increasingly aware of what I am doing, I feel and hear their support and thanks that I would give my time and energy for them and the parish. Though I might have been less aware of it at the beginning of this formation process, I see very clearly that the vocation is not focused on me and what I want to do. It is about the work that needs doing. I may not get to do much of “what I like to do” because the need may be elsewhere. But I don’t really have a choice other than to respond to the need or not. It is all about service to God and his people. Not getting to set the agenda is another weight I feel, for I am nervous about my ability to the work and do it well.
Watching what has happened to Chris as he moved from “Man in Formation” to “Deacon” shows me how quickly things will change should I be ordained. My sense of our class is that we actually like each other quite a bit. I know I am very fond of these brothers of mine. But it will be very hard to keep up with each other after ordination. Chris shows up for the liturgy and does his job and moves on to the next thing. I think that’s exactly what is happening for Bill at Prince of Peace and for John at St. Michael the Archangel, so those good friends just don’t get to see each other much anymore. I’ll miss not seeing Tony and Lenny and Ron and everyone else twice a month, so there’s another kind of “weight” I feel.