I ran into an old friend recently; the first time we have been together in years. And that means the first time he has visited or even talked to me since my December ordination. His question was innocent enough: what made you become a Deacon? My answer surprised not only my old friend but me too: it was not my idea; it was His!
Every day something happens or is said to remind me that this ministry is fulfilling His will and not my will. I certainly did respond and follow through on my committment and responsibilities, but it is only through God's will that I was ordained a Deacon.
Every day brings new experiences that affirms God's call. Some days they are simple and understated; some days they resound with full voice. The other day I noticed a lady in the back of church; she looked somewhat familiar but not overwhelmingly so. She almost seemed lost so I approached her. She told me that she was glad to see me again and had come to the church to tell me something. I thought for a moment, what did I do now?
She went on to tell me that she had approached me in February to ask if we could baptize her dying friend. She reminded me that he was a long time co-worker that had no family or friends, other than herself and her husband, late fifties, and dying quickly of stage four cancer. Oh yes, I remember. Her request resulted in a phone call I placed to the parish in the town where they lived, about 20 miles away. I do recall being emphatic about having one of the priests follow up. I was assured they would. But as all too often happens, my goal to follow up fell through as I continued to be engulfed by the learning curve of being a new Deacon.
Turns out that the good Priest at St. Margaret Mary parish in Slidell did indeed follow up. He committed to several visits, instructing the dying man in the faith, eventually baptizing him, bringing him Eucharist, confirming him and anointing him. He died soon after, reciting the Hail Mary, a prayer he told his friend he could never remember. On that day, he remembered.
She wanted me to know on this Sunday morning that she was so grateful that I made the call to the church in Slidell. I assured her it was not a big deal to do this but she insisted. She truly made my day by taking the time and making the effort to share with me the beautiful result of that simple phone call.
A man, once so lost, so distant from God, died in the comfort of his two friends, his new Priest friend and in full communion with the Catholic Church. I drove home thinking of that man, his friend who sought me out, and I reflected on the story of the Prodigal Son and the workers in the vineyard.
I did not do anything that any of us could not do. But she came to Mass those many days ago and was determined to seek out someone who was clergy. Perhaps she did not even understand that I was a Deacon; maybe she even thought I was a Priest. It does not matter. She sought help from me and the charism of service, in this case service sacramentalized, carried through to the result I share tonight.
I'll say it again; I love being a Deacon; because it is what God called me to be. I have already been so fortified by so many sweet, special events like this to constantly recommit myself to His will for me.
This was such a great start to a great week. In the coming days, I will meet with a couple working on their marriage, rehearse a couple for their wedding on Saturday, celebrate the ordination of 3 new Priests for our Archdiocese and celebrating the 32nd anniversary of my marriage to my best friend Wendy Lynn. God is truly good all the time and all the time God is truly good.
Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 5/21
2 hours ago