After prayer and worship, the first concern of the Apostles was for the poor and marginalized. It is noteworthy that the Apostles ordained deacons in order to help them in caring for the poor before the first presbyters (priests) were ordained. Such was the deacon’s closeness and attachment to the Apostles. Vatican II restored the diaconate as a particular and permanent rank of the hierarchy. Deacons have their own divine calling. They are not “junior priests” or glorified laymen. They are very special in the life of the Church, and have a call of their own.
From the Editor
The conversation usually begins something like this: “Father Dwight, would you pray for me this week? I’m having surgery.” I usually respond, “Certainly, I will remember you in prayer. Since you’re preparing for surgery, would you like to receive the anointing of the sick?” “Oh no, Father Dwight – I don’t think I’m that sick.” It’s a very common response to my suggestion about the anointing of the sick.
You may recall that in last month's column, I encouraged all of us to enter into the time of Lent as an opportunity to respond to God's grace and undertake some spiritual spring cleaning. I hope your Lenten journey has gone well thus far and that your house is in better spiritual order, so to speak.
In just a few short weeks, we will mark the start of spring. As the days continue to grow warmer and longer, our thoughts will turn to getting gardens cleaned up and ready for planting, lawns will be raked and readied for their first spring haircut, and grills will be cleaned and prepared for the cookouts that will follow. As a child growing up in my parents' home, there was another ritual that accompanied the approach of the first day of spring: spring cleaning in the house.
In July of this past year, I became pastor of St. Mary Parish in Charlotte. Like a number of parishes around our diocese, St. Mary is blessed to have a parish school as part of its ministry. To some, it may sound a bit strange to think of a parish school as part of a parish's "ministry," but it has been my experience, having been pastor of two different parishes with schools, that it is vitally important for our parish schools to see themselves as ministry fields, rather than as private schools that happen to be Catholic.
Advent is my favorite of all the Church’s seasons. Its four weeks are a breath of fresh air in the midst of the busy commotion of this time of year. Advent reminds me that even with reconciliation services, Christmas parties, pageants, and the hectic preparations for Christmas, we still need to be quiet and reflective. In the midst of the everyday happenings of my life as pastor and my work as editor of a thriving magazine, there is indisputable need to take time to be quiet.