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!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blogging Again

It's been almost two weeks since my last post and I've received more than a few emails from friends (and others) asking whether I've given up this little hobby of mine. I suspect some were hoping for a "yes" answer, but unhappily for them I can say definitively that Being Is Good will continue to appear, although  not perhaps so regularly as before.

I've just been busy, and despite my best intentions am not always able or willing to spend time sharing these unworthy thoughts of mine. I had naively believed that retirement, even retirement as a still ministering deacon, would mean more free time to do that which I enjoy. Silly boy! I'm afraid a form of Parkinson's Law begins to govern the lives of permanent deacons as soon as they retire from their civilian occupations. It's probably best stated as: Ministries multiply to the point where they fill all the available waking hours of the deacon and his wife.

Now, I'm not complaining...really I'm not. I truly enjoy every ministry in which I am involved. That, in itself, is an undeserved blessing for which I am exceedingly grateful to God. My teaching and preaching ministries are a joy, and I can't imagine not being able to facilitate, or at least be an active part of, the parish's two weekly Scripture Study sessions. And for nine years now the Wildwood Soup Kitchen, our fellow volunteers, and the wonderful people of God we serve have been a major part of our lives. No doubt there will come a time when Dear Diane and I can no longer do the work, but I prefer not to think about that possibility.

There are more, and among them is a new ministry -- new at least to us -- and one that we have come to enjoy immensely. Since the beginning of the year Dear Diane and I have been working several days each month as volunteer on-call chaplains at our local hospital. It's really not all that demanding. On our assigned days we're on call for a 24-hour period and also spend perhaps four hours or so at the hospital visiting new arrivals and others who need to be reminded of God's presence and love in their lives. It's a very ecumenical ministry. We visit everyone who doesn't specifically state they want to see no chaplain: Catholics, Protestants of every denomination, Jews, unbelievers....everyone. So far, I'm convinced we have received far more from the patients we visit (and their families) than they could possibly have received from us. What a wonderfully rewarding ministry. It's never the same, never routine, always a blessing...and the hospital gives us a free lunch! As Mr. Levi, one of our favorite soup kitchen patrons, would put it, "God is good, Mr. Dana. God is truly good." Amen!

Dear Diane and I returned just a few hours ago from our annual deacon couples retreat. About 50 couples attended. It was one of those Friday evening through Sunday noon weekend retreats at which the retreat master tried to accomplish far too much. At least that's the way it seemed to me. I believe a two-day retreat should focus only on one aspect of our spiritual and ministerial lives and delve into that aspect at some depth. Doing so offers the possibility of real change and spiritual advancement, as opposed to a wide-ranging approach that skims the surface of many different aspects of our spiritual lives. In the latter instance one comes away thinking, "Wow, that's a lot to absorb into my life, a lot of changes to make, but I really have no idea where or how to start." I would rather, for example, spend a weekend on a retreat that focused on the shared prayer life of a deacon and his wife, and enter into that one subject at far greater depth. But this is a topic for another post, after I've had more time to absorb all that I experienced this weekend.
Five deacons' wives (Diane center)
During the retreat Dear Diane and four other deacons' wives (see the photo above) were asked to give reflections on various aspects of Mary's life as described in the Gospels of Luke, Matthew and John. Each of these five women did a marvelous job.

Our Bishop Emeritus here in Orlando, Bishop Norbert Dorsey, C. P., died Thursday evening at the age of 83. His passing added a note of sorrow to our retreat. A Passionist priest, Bishop Dorsey was the Bishop of Orlando when I arrived here from Massachusetts in early 2004. Shortly thereafter he retired to be succeeded by Bishop Thomas Wenski, now Archbishop of Miami, who was replaced in turn by our current Bishop John Noonan. I met Bishop Dorsey only a few times but was impressed by his gentle and kind nature and his infectious smile. I will join several of our parish's deacons as we attend his funeral in Orlando this coming Thursday.

Finally, I haven't had time to sort out all my thoughts on Pope Benedict's resignation and impending departure from the Papacy. I love the man dearly and certainly understand his reasons. Humility has always been his most evident virtue and his decision highlights this fact. But I will miss him terribly and am convinced that much of what he has done as Pope will only bear fruit long after he has gone. Pray for him.

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