It has been a long while since I have sat down at this keyboard and tapped out a post other than sharing with you things I have read and found worthy of bringing to your attention. Life has been indeed very full, and I have been attending to attempts to integrate the different facets of my life into a seamless whole. Those of you who are deacons, I suspect, understand what I mean by this. All to often, in my opinion, we try to prioritize aspects of our lives rather than integrate them into coherency. I want to thank Deacon Joseph Michalak from the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis for planting in me this concept and challenge. Deacon Michalak is a friend and former instructor in my diaconate formation. I value his insights, which are considerable.
I was thinking this morning, in somewhat of a distracted manner during Office of Readings and Morning Prayer, how the Church needs a real renewal in her articulation of the Gospel message on the dignity of life, marriage and family. I heard on the radio how the Church wins on substance of the message, but loses on the delivery of it. I think that is true. Somehow, we who preach the Gospel must find a way to touch the hearts of the people, not only appeal to the mind. Our message is solid, convincing and enduring if one is willing to reasonably consider it, but most everyone nowadays, at least in the western world, no longer use reason as their beacon and guide; they look to their affective lives, their feelings, their attractions. Now of course you will no doubt rightly note that Satan uses exactly those faculties to entice us into vice, sin, and confusion, but we too need to better appreciate the need to appeal to those parts of human experience to instill Gospel values and truths. Certainly, our Holy Father knows this and lives this. The early Church understood this also, and stirred the hearts of thousands. We today need to intentionally call on the Holy Spirit to stir into flame our hearts and the hearts of the people, otherwise I fear we will lose the struggle in the public arena to present the Gospel.
Never abandon reason, but always utilize the heart. Never forget history, but attend to the present. Never poo-poo theology, but know equally well the lives of your people. Deacons especially are called and ordained to do just that. That is why we are especially effective preachers, ones that the people often will hear more readily than our other brothers in Orders.
Another random thought: I think it will be the diaconate that has the potential to revive parish and diocesan life, if we are given that mission by our bishops. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit is truly at work by calling so many men to the diaconate. It is the experience of most dioceses, from what I can ascertain, that there is an abundance of vocations to the diaconate, so much so that there seems to be an apprehension about these numbers. I ask myself the question, “Why the fear?” As a group, the diaconate seems to be a pretty healthy community of men. Certainly, an experienced and dedicate group who almost reflexively say “yes” when asked to serve. I think the parish deacon may be the cleric people will most often see when they enter a church in a few decades. We need to work this out, develop our theology, and modify our diocesan pastoral planning to account for this.
It is my intention, my dear readers, to sit at this desk more frequently in the future to tap out more posts that I hope are of interest to you. As always, I welcome your comments if they are presented in a respectful manner. I know a lot of Catholic bloggers have had trouble with comments left in comboxes that are offensive and disrespectful. That has seldom been the case here, and I thank you.