As the permanent diaconate prepares to celebrate its 50 year anniversary in the United States in 2018, I believe this new "World Day" instituted by Pope Francis will serve as a good reminder to deacons about our specific call to service and charity with the poor and marginalized members of society. Section two of the pope's message highlights the Acts of the Apostles in which it refers to the time "where Peter asks that seven men, 'full of the Spirit and wisdom' (6:3), be chosen for the ministry of caring for the poor."
After 18 years of ordained ministry, I find myself particularly challenged by these words today. Have I grown complacent in my ministry? If someone were asked to describe me, would the words "full of the Spirit and wisdom" come forth in their description? In the midst of my full-time position as Director of Pastoral Ministries for the Diocese of Cheyenne, do I truly have a diaconal ministry that demonstrates love and care for the poor?
I invite my brother deacons to join me in taking some time to reflect upon the pope's message leading up to the World Day of the Poor. How can we make a significant impact in our local communities to alleviate the suffering that exists among the poor? How can we faithfully serve others as ministers who are "full of Spirit and wisdom"?
I invite all others to some serious reflection as well. Here are a few questions to get us started:
How faithfully am I living out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy?
How do I confront selfishness in my life?
What charisms or gifts of the Holy Spirit have I been given?
How can I use these for the common good?
How would I respond at the end of life if I am asked the question, "How did you love?"
What are my personal struggles with prayer?
How do I live out the Beatitudes in a concrete way?
What treasure is hidden deep in my heart?