The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Parish Deacons

For several years now I have been my parish's Director of Liturgy, an interesting assignment for which I am uniquely unqualified. I am certainly no liturgist, since I often find myself at a loss when faced with a particular liturgical issue, and usually have to run to the books and documents for the answer. Most liturgists I have known always seemed to be able to provide ready answers to pretty much any liturgical questions that came their way. Ah, well...I will muddle through and trust our liturgies do not stray too far from what the Church intends.

The reason I bring this up is the nearness of Holy Week and Easter, a time of the year when liturgy takes a front row seat and all its elements must be blended smoothly, with grace and holiness. The problem for me is that I spend so much time preparing for the Triduum liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil that I really don't have the opportunity to prepare for them spiritually. Even worse -- for me, at least -- is that I usually function as a sort of Master of Ceremonies during the Triduum and find myself necessarily focusing only on the liturgical process, making sure everything "goes well", and unable to appreciate the liturgy as it really is. I suppose that's just the way it is for anyone with liturgical responsibility and rather than whining, I should just thank God for the opportunity to serve Him, even as a part time liturgist. And, fortunately, I have the full support of my pastor and my brother deacons in the parish.

Because our parish is located adjacent to The Villages, a large retirement community here in central Florida, a significant majority of our parishioners are retired age. As you might expect we have relatively few young families and so baptisms are not very common in the parish. We will, however, celebrate an adult baptism at our Easter Vigil Mass, followed by four adult confirmations -- all the result of our budding R.C.I.A. program. We look forward to welcoming these new members into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Another benefit of our location is the size of our parish's diaconal community. We have a total of eight deacons assigned to the parish, and all eight of us are transplants from other dioceses. Four are seasonal deacons (for some reason, they prefer not to be called "snow birds") who spend only part of the year with us; but the other four minister here year round. Given the rapid growth of our parish -- 20 to 30 percent per year -- these men have been a true blessing, and we will certainly miss our seasonal deacons as they begin their northern migration next month.

Seven of us and our wives got together last week for a little R&R in advance of Holy Week. (One of our brother deacons and his wife had to go north to care for a family medical emergency and were unable to join us.) We drove to the nearby resort town of Mt. Dora, enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the lovely, old, 19th century Lakeside Inn, and then took a two-hour boat tour of Lake Dora and the old Dora Canal offering us a glimpse into a more natural, almost primeval Florida. It proved to be a wonderful trip to view some of God's marvelous creatures: bald eagles, osprey, storks, herons, alligators, hawks, snapping turtles, and many other critters that I couldn't identify. I placed a few of the photos I took during our boat trip on Click here to view a slide show of these photos.

Above: Parish deacons and wives on the steps of the Lakeside Inn, Mt. Dora, FL

And so, we had a wonderful day. We not only strengthened the bonds of our community of deacons in the parish, but had an opportunity to enjoy and reflect on the wonders of God's creation, right here in our own backyard.

Blessings and God's peace.

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