I came home from work today and there was an envelope waiting for me on the dining room table. Inside, there were two letters. The first was from the Most Rev. Francis X DiLorenzo, Bishop of Richmond, welcoming me to the diaconate formation process and thanking me for my "commitment and dedication to the process thus far." The second letter was from the Director of Formation, congratulating on my acceptance and explaining what the Church has in store for me during the next few weeks.
So, its official. I am preparing to become a permanent deacon of the Roman Catholic Church. Thank you so much to all who have stormed heaven with prayers for me and all those who have been involved with the diaconate process. Thanks to all who have been mentors throughout my faith journey.
Of course, I would truly appreciate it if all would continue to keep the prayers coming. My family and I will most certainly need them. Throughout the process, I have continued to remind myself that all is in God's hands. I have continued to qualify all statements about discernment with the phrase "God willing." That being said, days like today are such a blessing.
Of course, not all blessings take the form of letters from the Office of the Vicar for Clergy. Far from it. Quite often, they have taken human form. For example, a couple of weeks ago, someone came up to me after mass and asked how the formation process was going. I told him that actually, it had not yet begun! I would hear in the next few weeks whether I had been accepted. "How can you stand to wait?!? The suspense must be killing you!" Actually, it wasn't. After all, it was in God's hands. My mantra over the past few weeks was a quote that I read in Brother Lawrence's book, The Practice of the Presence of God: "I am in the hands of God; He will do with me as He pleases. If I do not serve Him here, I will serve Him elsewhere."
That having been said, however, it would appear that He intends for me to serve him now by preparing to become a deacon. Whether I will make it through the process, well that remains to be seen. And, is kinda beside the point. The work "deacon" comes from the Greek word for servant. I have come to realize that I have a vocation to serve: at home, in the marketplace, at Church. Whether I will do that as an ordained minister of the Church remains to be seen. However, the fact that I am called to serve God's creation is crystal clear. And, as much as I enjoyed hearing from Bishop DiLorenzo today, I did not need his letter to know that!
Image: Deacon candidates prostrate before the altar of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles during a 2004 diaconate ordination liturgy. Photo by Rick Flynn, owned by Eric Stoltz.