Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Catholic Deacon - Married and Ordained

A Deacon's Prayer

Come to my assistance my Lord and my God, that I may do for You all that you ask. Strengthen me in adversity and do not let me succumb to my feelings of worthlessness. Help me to feel in my heart all that You speak to me, and help me to understand. May I be to others what they need: a body to work when others cannot; a heart to love those who are forgotten; a shoulder to console those who's soul is in need; a smile to brighten the most somber of Your children; a mouth to proclaim Your love. Let me be to You, as a brush is to a painter, worthless without You, but capable of transforming the human heart by the power of Your mercy.

I grabbed this article out of Americamagazine.org. It is written by Deacon William T. Ditewig, professor of theology and director of graduate programs in theology at Saint Leo University, near Tampa, Fla. For all of us who have a special interest in the Catholic Permanent Diaconate and for all Catholics who seek a better understanding of this ordained ministry, you will find this article to be quite informative.

Married and Ordained: The Ministry of Deacons

I had been a deacon for about a year and was on active duty in the U.S. Navy as executive officer of the Security Group Activity at Hanza, Okinawa, Japan. My family lived on Kadena Air Base, where I served at the Kadena chapel—the only deacon on Okinawa. One day I received a call from the senior Catholic chaplain, a friend. Laughing, he told me of a conversation he had just had with a young Air Force man reporting to Kadena for duty. Father Mike explained the chapel programs, and the young man said he had been to Mass there. Father described the pastoral staff, including the participation of a Navy Commander (me) as deacon. “Oh, was he the tall man who preached last Sunday?” the young man asked. “That’s right,” Father replied. The young man complimented my homily, but complained that he had seen me do something “just not right” after Mass: he saw me get into a car “with a woman and her children” and drive off! Father Mike explained that I was a married deacon, and that “the woman and her children” were my wife and our children. The young man said he knew deacons could be married, but that I should not have driven off with my family like that. Cognitively, he understood; affectively, he couldn’t imagine a married cleric.

In another story of confusion, a woman visiting our parish once asked my wife, “When you die, will Bill become a real priest?”

For more than a millennium, Latin Catholics saw an overwhelmingly celibate corps of ordained ministers, though for the last 40 years a new pattern has emerged that includes deacons who are both ordained and married. It is not surprising that confusion persists over the “double vocational sacramentality” of a married deacon.

Scholarship also lags behind current practice, with centuries of writing on the relationship of celibacy to ordained ministry, but nothing comparable on the relationship of matrimony and holy orders. One exception is Chapter Five of Sacrament of Service: A Vision of the Permanent Diaconate Today, by Patrick McCaslin and Michael G. Lawler (1986). This did not reverse the trend, but it does, I hope, offer food for conversation and understanding.

Just as the permanent diaconate is not only for celibates, neither is it a “married ministry,” though currently most deacons are married. Rather, the permanent diaconate is a major order of ecclesial ministry open to married and to unmarried men.

Read more HERE

1 comment:

Maria Lúcia said...

Brian,
Your book of everything is very interesting.
God bless you.