Friday, February 27, 2009

It's Friday and it is Lent!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Mardi Gras

It is Mardi Gras Day and I am sitting in my office avoiding work. Lent begins tomorrow and that period of preparation for Easter. I think I am blessed because this evening, my class brothers and I will be instituded as Readers in the Catholic Church by the Archbishop. I cannot think of a better way to begin the Lenten season. We also get to enjoy the traditional pancakes for supper.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Retreat and Polycarp

We had a good retreat today. The retreat was given by Fr Tim Hepburn who is the Chaplain at Georgia Tech. Primarily, it was preparation for Lent as well as a reflection on the importance of the proclamation of the Word at Mass.

This coming Monday is the Feast Day of St Polycarp. I have always admired him since he was the first Bishop of Smyrna (a great town in Georgia) and a follower of St John the Apostle (author of my favorite Gospel). He died a martyr at the age of 86 (burned alive). The stories of the Church Martyrs has always humbled me. To willingly die for your faith is a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit and their sacrifice was critical in the growth of the Church. You can read more about him here.

I have talked to many of many Protestant friends about the Catholic devotion to saints. Many say they do not believe in the Communion of Saints; that is until that learn what it is. Saints are those people that the Church has declared to be in heaven (it is a very difficult process). Obviously, most Protestants believe there are people in heaven. We Catholics see these people as role models; someone to look up too. We also believe that in heaven, our petitions on earth can be heard. We do not pray to saints; we ask them to pray for us, which is no different than asking a friend to pray for you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Well it turns out that Papa Ratzi did meet with Speaker of the House Pelosi and word has it he reiterated the Churches position on the sanctity of life. More details at this link.

Mardi Gras is approaching fast and unfortunately we will not be making a trip to Fairhope this year for the annual Mardi Gras celebration. We have a formation retreat this weekend followed by Institution of Reader on Tuesday (Mardi Gras day).

When I tell friends we attend Mardi Gras most years, they are surprised. They have images of New Orleans, drunken behavior and women doing almost anything to get beads thrown to them. This is unfortunate because that image is not what happens along the Gulf Coast of the United States and most natives to the area would not step foot in New Orleans because it is invaded by tourist looking to behave badly.

Almost anywhere else on the Gulf Coast, Mardi Gras is enthusiatically celebrated in both large and small towns. It is an opportunity to come together as a community and have a party before the beginning of Lent. These parades and parties are very family friendly places to be, where the children take center stage to catch beads and marvel at the beautiful floats.

I have enjoyed it because it is a time to come together with friends we have not seen in a year but also a time reflect on the Lenten Season that approaches. There is a time and a season for everything and this time is for all of us to prepare for the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. That time is not just for giving up something we enjoy, but a time to come to a deeper understanding of what really happened on Good Friday and why Easter morning changed the world forever.

So I will miss being at the Mardi Gras parades this weekend and the Ball on Monday. As they say, we have bigger fish to fry this week-end.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I came across this text and wanted to save it.

I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colours richer, and it is tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content. From a knowledge of those limitations and its richness of experience emerges a symphony of colours, richer than all, its green speaking of life and strength, its orange speaking of golden content and its purple of resignation and death.

Lin Yutang - 1936

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We had a good day yesterday in class. However, we got some bad news. One of our classmates decided to take a leave of absence to continue the discernment process. That makes three since this time last year.

This entire process is one of discernment. Many deacons I know say it was not until the day of ordination that they were sure this was the correct path. I have been very involved in my parish but the questions is - do I need to be a Deacon to do what God is calling me to do? As I decided two years ago, I will take this one day at a time. However, I know this is where I need to be right now.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The word on the street is that New York may have a new Archbishop soon. How does that affect me or our Archdiocese, well our own Archbishop Wilton Gregory is on the short list for the position. He has all of the tools necessary for the position and as the past President of the USCCB, he handled the priest abuse scandal with grace and humility. I am torn about this possibility out of selfishness, I want him to stay in Atlanta; but it is a great honor and he would serve the Archdiocese of New York well. For more information you can go to this link. News from New York

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The daffodils are blooming in Smyrna (however, this photo was taken at a convent in Belgium many years ago [I guess I am lazy]). I always find it a nice reminder in the winter that spring is just around the corner and the beginning of new life. The weekend also begins another year of formation classes. This year we have Patristics, Scripture Prophets, Moral Theology, Grace, Mariology and Liturgy (Mass). I have not seen my class brothers for quite a while and it will be nice to see them and their wives again.

I am certainly looking forward to the new year of classes. This will be the first full year of the revised schedule and I know a lot of work has gone into the new curriculum. They are really attempting to prepare us for the future.

In two weeks my class will be instituted as Reader in the Church. A Reader is a minor order in the Catholic Church and is a stepping stone to major orders. In my case, that major order would be as a Deacon. This role as Reader will allow me to read from the old and new Testament (excluding the Gospel reading) during Mass.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Spent the weekend in Tonganoxie, Kansas at the 50th wedding anniversary of my wife's aunt and uncle. It is nice to see that reaching such a milestone is still celebrated in portions of this country. And with Karen and I just reaching 23 years, I am more amazed by this important day. I pray that Joe and Carol have many more years together.

We also went to Mass at the local parish. Fr Mark gave one of the best homilies I have heard in a very long time and his joy with life made my heart sing.

OnSaturday the Archdiocese of Atlanta ordained new Permanent Deacons. I was not able to attend for obvious reasons, but was with them in spirit. It makes me reflect on my own call to this ministry and where I will be three years from now. Only God knows.

Friday, February 6, 2009

This is the first post of this blog. My intention for this blog is to have a format to reflect on my formation to the Permanent Diaconate in the Catholic Church, as well as incorporate news stories or information I find useful and/or inspirational. Although I doubt anyone will read this blog, I hope that it represents an on-line diary of how I develop over the next few years.

Currently I will be beginning my second full year as a candidate in my formation as a Deacon. Overall it is a 6 year process. The first two years are all about applications, interviews, and a discernment period (called aspirancy). If all goes well, the aspirants are accepted to candidacy, which is the official acceptance into the program. The following four years consists of intensive training in the four areas of formation. These areas include human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual. I hope to speak more on these subjects as time goes on.