Deacon James Keating, Ph.D. has written,
“When Christ inflicts the ‘wound’ of diaconal ordination upon a man, it is to make him vulnerable to the mystery of this obedient service. The desire to serve the Father’s will defines the heart of Christ. Is the deacon aware that Christ is now speaking to him about this desire, about the love of the Father He wishes to dispense upon His church? Did the deacon allow the wound of ordination to open the ears of his heart so that he could hear the movement of Christ’s own Spirit? Does the deacon wish to obey the Spirit so that he does not work in vain (Ps 127: 1)?” — Rev. Mr. James Keating, The Character of Diaconal Ordination, Ignatius Insight, August 17, 2010.
I read this article of his many months ago, and passed it along to my local diaconal community to read. If any deacons out there haven’t read it, it is well worth the time in doing so. I reread it recently after it was submitted again to the deacons of our diocese by our diaconal committee.
I especially love the excerpt quoted above. The image of the character impressed upon the deacon at ordination as being a “wound” that must remain open for the deacon to be responsive to the calling of Jesus to service in revealing the Father to those to whom we are called; the idea that the primary way deacons serve is by being in constant prayer, constant contact with that “wound” rather than getting caught up in a frenzy of activity; that the key to living the diaconate is found within one’s fidelity to the character received at ordination so as to allow Christ to do the work, to allow Christ to initiate and complete through our responsiveness to Him in all things.
Right before I and my brothers were to process over to the cathedral for our ordination in August, 2009, I turned to Eduardo and said to him in Italian, “Come preghiamo ogni mattina, ‘Ascoltate oggi la voce del Signore. Non indurite i vostri cuori.” This is the verse from the 95th Psalm that we pray the first thing every morning as our Invitatory in the Office, “Listen today to the voice of the Lord. Harden not your hearts.”
How can we be responsive to the Lord if the “wound” or character of the diaconate, permanently impressed on our souls, is calloused over, scarred?
No, it must remain open, vulnerable, sensitive.