Crossing the Line

This weekend in our formation classes we had an interesting discussion that I wanted to share. In our psychology course, our professor constantly has us working in small groups, working out different counseling situations, with one of us acting as a therapist, and the other role playing a problem someone might have.

This begged the question, is a deacon meant to be a counselor?

It was astounding how quickly the director of the program jumped up and basically said “Heck no!” The liabilities involved are so tremendous that he wanted to nip that thought right in the bud.

Before I go into my thoughts, he made it absolutely clear that we can listen to people and pray with them, but we are never to give advice. The legal issues are simply to extreme. On a side note, he also said we cannot act as spiritual directors until we take a specific spiritual direction course, which our diocese does not offer.

I will admit I found this rather odd. I would imagine that any priest or deacon with five+ years of spiritual education under their belt would have the ability to give some guidance to the spiritual direction of the flock they have been entrusted with, after all, what is a homily if not spiritual direction? This one seems silly, but it brings me to my main point.

At what time did we as a nation institutionalize good advice?

I find it absolutely ridiculous that a person can be sued for sharing common sense with someone, even when that person instigated the question. “I am sorry, I am not qualified to tell you that you should not beat your children with a stick, let me refer you to a licensed therapist.” What nonsense.

And yet, in this sue happy society, everyone seems to have it out for the Church, and this now includes me. So I wanted to share some of my new rules, effective immediately.

I cannot hug children, but I am allowed to be hugged by children as long as it is in a group setting.

I cannot be alone with anyone, ever. (I hope they exclude my own family!)

I cannot give advice that might have a direct impact on someone’s life, unless that advice is to pray more.

I cannot give people suggestions of things they might change in their lives that might improve their lives.

I cannot tell anyone that I can help them. (It can be confused as “curing” them, which is clinical.)

The list goes on, and seems to grow constantly. While much of it seems silly, I do realize the importance of these new rules, but at the same time, it makes me wonder how I can really be an effective minister of God’s Word. How can I admonish the sinner when I’m not allowed to admonish the sinner? This is tricky business, and I’m going to have to really use my noggin to figure it all out.

Christ’s Decent Into Hell

I wanted to share one of my favorite readings from Holy Week in the Divine Office today. What is truly special about this homily is it’s antiquity, as it comes from the very early days of the Church. I am reposting it in full, I’m sure the author won’t mind the copyright infringement, as he’s been dead for 1800 years or so. I almost wanted to cry after reading this Saturday morning.

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

‘See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

“The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

Easter Blues / WordPress Move

This is the holiest week of the year. Every day is a Sunday this week. But I am so exhausted I just want to curl into a ball and go to bed.

It’s like this every year. I put so much effort into Holy Week, that Easter week is usually spent in recovery. I’m just beat down tired. I should be stepping up the feast, but the truth is, I don’t even want to cook dinner. Heck, I don’t even want to leave the house.

Chocolate Bunny with tilted eats

There is one shining light in this though. My daughter’s friends all have the week off, so I have free entertainment running around the house all week as the sleepovers and field trips commence. Yes, they are a noisy lot, but as long as I hide in my man cave, (otherwise known as office) I have quiet peace to mull in. Praise the Lord for man cave.

So yesterday, in an effort to remain in the only quiet place in my home and still feel productive, I finally made the switch to WordPress.org.

Now this may seem a rash decision, but the truth is I have been thinking about it for quite a while. The rest of this post will probably only interest other bloggers or people interested in starting blogs.

Now I should let you know, my goal was not to trade one platform for another. It was to be able to have my own platform completely. Let me explain.

There are other blogging sites out there, I’m sure, but the main guys are Blogger and WordPress.com. When I got this crazy idea to start a blog based on my formation process, I simply looked at my favorite few blogs, and did what they did. It worked great, and I was happy with it.

Moving Boxes

Having spent years in website design though, I kept running up against little walls in my site design. Now in honesty, these were few, and I was usually able to find some workaround to get it to still look good, but nothing like what I actually wanted. A great example for this would be comments. I hated the blogger commenting system, and the only way I could get it close to how I wanted was by adding a third party plugin. But this was unwieldy and unfamiliar to readers, and therefore many just were not leaving comments. Arrg.

The truth is, I like to be able to have complete control over what my site looks and feels like, and I kept feeling like I was being put in a Blogger cookie cutter.

Now moving to WordPress.com would not do me any better. I would run into the same problem. Then I found out there were actually two WordPresses, a CMS called WordPress.org, and a blogging site called WordPress.com. Having built several sites in Joomla, I knew WordPress.org was the way to go.

Man yelling at computer

There was an impetus of time though to get this done if I wanted to get it done right. My site is growing extremely fast, (and I am oh so very thankful!) and I would like to be switched before it grew too much.

Now I’ll be honest, I’m still learning a new system, so I have not reaped any benefits as of yet. I can however already see the potential with WordPress is going to outstrip Blogger with ease. I’m really rather excited.

My wife just thinks I’m easily amused.

 

Moving to WordPress

I like blogger, don’t get me wrong. It’s really rather impressive.

I just don’t like being told no.

If I want to put something on my site, I don’t want to ask permission, so I’m switching to WordPress.org. I am hoping this move will be permanent.

Now I’ll be honest, I am not a technical wiz, so I expect the site to be a bit of a mess for a day or two while I get everything transferred over and all the links built, but I should be up and running in no time.

I apologize in advance for any inconvenience. (Pray for me!)

Learning to Bilocate

Deacon classes are always challenging, but my latest task has taken the cake. I am currently studying bi-location.

What the heck is bi-location you ask? Well, to be honest I’m not really all that sure, not having really accomplished it yet, but as I understand, many of the Saints were able to be in two places at once. That sounds particularly challenging since I haven’t really learned to be at one place at once very efficiently as of yet.

So this weekend, at the Easter Vigil, it was time to put my nose to the grindstone and figure it out, because I somehow had to go to both Easter Vigils in my town. (We have two parishes in my city.) Yup, at my parish, I was reading, directing altar servers, helping the catechumen and candidates that I have been working with all year, basically making sure everything went to plan. My kids are altar serving, my wife is an extraordinary minister, we are completely involved in this Mass.

This is just what I signed up for. The Easter Vigil is my favorite Mass of the entire year, and I am knee deep in it’s planning. I’ve been excited for six months for tonight.

On Thursday however, a very good friend gave me a call to offer me a signal honor. Her son was going to be baptized, and she didn’t realize she needed godparents. Of course their Mass is being held at the exact same time as ours.

Really good friend. Really great honor. Really short notice.

(Insert string of expletives here)

Now if this had been a goddaughter, this would have been a piece of cake. I would have sent my wife to represent us, but alas, it is not so. Nope, it has got to be me, and I know it. This boy needs a man to stand with him, and being a godparent is forever, and therefore clearly the more important task.

So I must suddenly learn to bi-locate. We definitely did not cover this in my formation classes.

So here is how it panned out. I showed up an hour early to my parish to help set up and double check that everything was perfect. Check. Jumped into the RCIA class to help with prayers and to congratulate everyone. Check. Got Easter fire ready. Check.

Then off we go. As soon as the crowds leave the Easter fire, I douse the holy barbecue, put it in a safe place and jump in the church to read the first reading. (I was scheduled to read the epistle, but switched with a buddy to get the first reading) Listened to the Easter Praises, and hopped up to read.

What! Dangit, I double checked everyone else, but I forgot to check my own readings! The pages aren’t marked, and the church is packed. I’m up there looking at the Holy Thursday readings! After a couple eons of page turning as hundreds of people stare at me, I find the first reading and go for it. Guess what? Wrong reading. Yup, totally read the wrong thing. Yes, I read a reading for Holy Saturday, just not the reading we had planned on being read.

“The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Walk away from the ambo reverently. Continue walking all the way out the church, hop in car, drive across town, walk into Mass. Stand up for my new godson, finish Mass. Wish all friends there a happy Easter, fly back to my parish, hop in reception, congratulate everyone who just came into the Church, eat cake.

Grab family, fly back to other reception, congratulate godson, eat more cake. Drop off family, walk to church and pick up wife’s car.

Collapse in exhaustion. Sleep until noon. Forget to hide eggs.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a holy and beautiful Easter. But something really got to me.

I was sad that I wasn’t really able to spend Easter with my family. This Easter taught me one thing I knew was going to happen intellectually, but I just wasn’t prepared for emotionally. I have always loved being snuggled up to my wife during Mass, to have my daughter’s hand in mine and her head on my shoulder. I have always been able to be present to them as a husband and as a father.

Being a deacon will mean being separated from my family.