We've been spending way too much time lately on church externals! Cardinal, vestments, clerical attire. As the Italians say, "Basta!" ("Enough"!) Not that these things aren't interesting, but there are more significant things to think about as we enter into Advent.
So, over the years at various presentations, I've developed some points to ponder about the diaconate. I'll list them here to get us started, and then I'll post more on each point in separate posts so we can, if readers like, discuss them in more detail.
1. How "kenotic" is my ministry? ("Kenosis" is the self-emptying of Christ, to which we are all called as well) In short, how completely do I "empty myself" into service to others. Ministry is not about "me" but about "the other," not something we do, but the kind of people we are.
2. How healthy is our relationship with our bishop? We are supposed to be the "eyes, ears, heart, soul" of the bishop, extending his ministry throughout the diocese. How's that going?
3. How much do I "risk" in diaconate? Am I willing to leave my own comfort zone to serve others?
4. How capable am I of servant-LEADERSHIP? Ordination to any order of ministry involves LEADERSHIP, specifically, servant leadership. How willing am I to lead in and through service?
5. Don't get stuck in old patterns of ministry! What areas of need are not being met at all? How willing are we to be creative and break into new areas of service?
6. We should not be co-opted into someone else's ministry. The Holy See actually says this quite strongly: we are not supposed to be substitutes for priests or anyone else, nor are we supposed to take on ministries that rightly belong to others. This can be challenging: Am I serving in ways that are best done by others?
7. How "mobile" am I willing to be? Our model should be like St. Paul: move into new area, preach Good News, empower local leadership, and move on to a new area.
8. How well do we develop a "mens ecclesiae"? How well do I understand how the church really works and how sensitive am I to the very real needs of the local people of God?
9. How well do I minister EVERYWHERE? Or do I just minister "in house"? We're ordained to serve everywhere, including the work place and market place. Or have I just become "churchy" in my service?
10. Balance, balance, balance! How balanced is family, ministry, spirituality; how balanced are Word, Worship and Charity?
That's the list in brief. The next posts, over the next few days, will examine each in more detail. I'll try to have the list complete by Thanksgiving!