Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mass of Thanksgiving

When it was finally decided that Bishop Darwin Andino would ordain me deacon on Friday. July 15, Padre German said that we should have a Mass on Sunday where I would preach for the first time as a deacon. I agreed but insisted that this was a Mass of Thanksgiving for my ordination as a permanent deacon.

The preparations began early. Saturday a group of women began to prepare the meal for all those who would attend. When I arrived early Sunday morning they were at work, preparing several cauldrons of a type of beef stew. More than 1000 people were fed after Mass. Also, a special meal was prepared for about 30 special guests, with lots of meat. I, of course, ate none of the meat, vegetarian that I am.

For the Mass, we brought two altar boys from the nearby municipality of Concepción. A communion minister from Dolores helped with the incense. Several people from various communities proclaimed the readings and led the Prayers of the Faithful.

I wore a green dalmatic, a gift from the parish of St. Thomas Aquinas made by Marianne Today, and Padre German Navarro wore a new chasuble made from the same material and embroidered by a woman in the parish.

The Mass began with a procession in which I carried the new Gospel Book. The deacon proclaims the Gospel and can preach.

One of the moving parts of the ordination rite was when the bishop handed me the Gospel Book and told me:

Recibe el Evangelio de Cristo,
del cual has sido constituido mensajero,
ten presente que debes
creer la palabra de Dios que proclamas
y hacer de ella norma de tu vida.

Receive the Gospel of Christ;
You have been constituted as its messenger.
Be aware that you ought to believe the Word of God that you proclaim
and make it the norm of your life.

The English version, which in this case I prefer, reads:
Receive the Gospel of Christ,
whose herald you now are.
Believe what you read,
teach what you believe,
and practice what you teach.

When he began Mass, Padre German noted the importance of combatting domestic violence and abuse of women. I was very pleased to hear this since the good collected at the ordination Mass went to Casa Hogar, a shelter in Santa Rosa for abused women. Also, I had recently heard of a horrid case of abuse. Mentioning this touched me and challenges me  to be more attentive to this.

The Mass proceeded normally. I proclaimed the Gospel and gave the homily. It can be found here in Spanish, and a first draft in English here.

There was a procession of offerings, which is very common here. 

First of all, Phil Barutha, visiting from St. Thomas Aquinas, brought up a signed banner which we affixed to the wall. 

Then gifts were brought representing the deacon’s ministry in service of the poor and in service of the Word. Then, to my surprise, children dressed in typical garb brought forward a gift for me. I was stunned.

Then, finally, a family brought forward bread and wine for the Eucharist, remembering that the deacon also serves at the altar.

During the offertory, the deacon adds a drop of water to the wine. The words prayed during this simple action have often struck me, especially the English translation:
By the mystery of this water and wine
may we come to share in the divinity of Christ
who humbled himself to share in our humanity.
Christ took on our humanity so that we might share in His divinity. He emptied Himself so that we would be transformed into Him. The call to downward mobility, which Jesus shows us, is the path whereby we are lifted up. I think this is an important message for us deacons (as well as for all Christians.)

After the gifts are prepared, the priest incenses the gifts and the altar and the deacon (or another person) incenses the priest and the people, as a sign that they are set aside to offer (and be the offering) of a sacrifice to God. I got carried away when I incensed the people and almost lost the censer. One disaster avoided.

As I was preparing for the diaconate, I noted that the deacon is an ordinary minister of Communion, especially of the Cup of the Blood of Christ. At the end of the Eucharistic prayer, he lifts up the chalice. I insisted at this Mass that I hold the cup while the priest and the communion ministers served the people with the Body and Blood of Christ by intinction (dipping the host in the precious blood.)

At the end of Mass, a few words were said by Padre German, Phil, and two members of the parish. Then we went forth. The communion ministers distributed holy cards I had had printed and the people ate and had their full. After numerous photos, I went and ate with a smaller group.

It was a day of deep joy, mostly because I saw so many people coming together to pray and give thanks. Reflecting on the Mass, I think that this was really a time of prayer and reflection. I did not feel as if it were a celebration of me – thank God. I hope that it was for the many who came a way for all of us to celebrate the gift and call to serve God and the People of God, especially the poor.

1 comment:

Cindy Dy said...

Thank you for putting an effort to published this article. You've done a great job! Good bless!