Sunday, June 26, 2016

Gospel Proclamations and Two Deacons

Gospel Proclamations and Two Deacons

John 20: 11-18 
Years ago a deacon proclaimed the Word
On Resurrection Day.
He read of Mary weeping outside the tomb
Seeing two angels where Jesus once lay.

Mary turned away
Then the gardener she saw
Not knowing her risen Lord at bay.
“Why do you weep, woman?”

The deacon stopped to catch his breath,
He knew of the words yet to come.
He could not speak nor utter any sound,
Overcome by the Gospel’s verbal drum.

In silent prayer he carried on
And spoke of Mary’s quest.
“They carried away my Lord,” said she.
“Tell me where and I will take him away.”

One word said He.  “Mary!”
At that, the deacon wept
And paused the Gospel recitation
His composure not kept.

John 21:15-19 
Today, the Feast of Saint Peter [and Paul],
Another deacon Gospel proclamation
Reading “Peter, do you love me?”
Another difficult recitation.

What first began rhythmically,
Her cadence a brisk staccato,
The deacon slowed to largo
That impact of the question did bestow.

“Peter, do you love me?”
The second time seemed too much
For the deacon to continue reading.
A powerful Gospel possesses emotional reach.

She read on the third time,
“Peter, do you love me?”
Three times did Peter reply,
“Yes, Lord. You know I do.”

The deacon completed her reading
Of Gospel truth to those around
The Word she was feeding
To people now aground.

The Gospel Word is powerful,
Both to head and heart.
It blossoms and becomes flowerful.
Sometimes unexpectedly, a shock it imparts.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


The publishing imprint of Woody Norman LLC just released a book based on the Epistle of James 1:27.

Written by attorney Samuel J. McLure, the book challenges Christians to live into their pure faith as found in James.

McLure is founder of The Adoption Law Firm in Montgomery, Alabama.
The Adoption Law Firm

McLure currently serves as senior legal counsel for Lifeline Children's Services in Hoover, Alabama.
Lifeline Children's Services

The paperback and eBook versions can be purchase through Amazon at
The End of Orphan Care

The book can also be purchased at a 20% discount at this URL link using discount code MA3PK7GW
 Discount Link

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The True Love Triangle

True Love Triangle

Love is not love if directed solely toward oneself
Because love does not live alone.
Self-directed love is something else.
But see, it is an appeal, a cry, a groan.

Love is not romance,
A human invention
Bereft of life’s supernatural dance
With Love’s divine intention.

Love lives between persons
Both in giving and in sacrifice.
Love’s continuing exchanges rehearse in
Life’s deepest relational device.

True love participates in creation.
The coupling of God with mankind
Births many a new nation,
Beloveds He had in mind.

All persons born
Are loved by their Creator.
This love to celebrate not mourn
Because His embrace is greater.

Before the beginning of time
The eternal Father never alone,
With Holy Wisdom shared Love sublime,
Holy Spirit in completion made it known.

Without eternal Trinitarian Love,
Life and relationships never could blossom.
All on earth is from above,
Making true Love awesome.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Diaconus Intellectus

Diaconus Intellectus 
κατανόηση διάκονος

Monday, June 6, 2016

This past weekend my wife and I attended a gathering of deacons in the Atlanta, Georgia area. The assembly was at Holy Cross Cathedral where, in the morning, one woman and four men were ordained to the diaconate. In the afternoon the deacons present – the newly ordained, the previously ordained, and their spouses – convened for an afternoon discussion about the Sacred Order of Deacons.

What is it about deacons that necessitates discussion? Plenty! 

Few church people misunderstand the definitions and roles of bishops and presbyters (priests). But when asked about deacons most parishioners either do not know or make a calculated guess based solely on what is observed during the liturgy.

VATICAN II and Deacons
Prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) deacons were mostly transitional – meaning that the newly ordained was in a “holding pattern” waiting six to twelve months before landing into the priesthood . Vatican II changed all of that for the Western or Latin churches – even if some of those churches were not Roman Catholic (the Anglican Communion being one). In the Eastern Orthodox Churches the role of the (permanent) deacon never drifted into a transitional mode only. The Eastern Church has no medieval history like that of the West and continued with the Order unchanged.

The third session of Vatican II in October, 1964, ratified the renewal or restoration of the permanent diaconate and in the following November it promulgated Lumen Gentium. This document described the duties of a permanent diaconate: “These duties, so very necessary to the life of the Church, can in many areas be fulfilled only with difficulty according to the prevailing discipline of the Latin Church. For this reason, the diaconate can in the future be restored as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy.” (Vatican Collection, Volume 1, Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1975.)

The Vatican II document went on to state that the examination of the Order of Deacons, in light of Vatican Council’s action, is necessary to express and to unfold the duties and functions of the deacon. In other words, standards and expectations of the Order are to be made known to the faithful.

Anglican Deacons
The gathering of deacons this weekend, not Roman Catholic but Anglican, met to discuss the role of the deacon in the Anglican Diocese of the South and then to begin "the examination."

The gathering was well-planned by the Canon to the Ordinary, a priest. I say “well-planned” because it was. The developer of the agenda (the plan) was informed and understood the diaconate and its functional conundrum. He also knew how to begin a new and productive dialogue not only for that moment but for the future.

The agenda was written in top-down fashion. I understand how that had to be that way. The meeting flowed with active participation. I began to discern a measure of openness and a sense of ecclesiastical blossoming – an understanding. As the afternoon hours passed my hope was building on nothing less that God’s holy movement within our midst.

The Canon invited a deacon scholar from another diocese to talk with us about how her diocese was moving along in bringing clarity to the Order of Deacons. She provided historical information about deacons – saints of the church who were deacons. Hers was not a lecture but a presentation interrupted occasionally by questions. Her presentation place the Order of Deacon in historical and traditional context. We are grateful for her contribution to the gathering.

Deacon Ministries
Some deacons were asked to talk about their specific ministries. No two ministries were identical except for the basic fact that Jesus Christ is preached and that the Holy Spirit is present always. One deacon ministers in a food pantry; another serves as a prison chaplain; and one was a church administrator. Diaconal ministry is limitless as witnessed by the stories of the deacons present. 

Those kinds of ministries are problematic to some people, particularly parishioners who serve on parish or diocesan discernment committees. The question arises, “Why does one have to be ordained to conduct those kinds of ministries?” This and other on-going concerns were not meant to be resolved in this one, afternoon meeting. Instead, the Canon offered some of the thoughts of our bishop and the diocese in working on these deacon-related issues.

Transitional Council
The Canon then suggested the concept of a “transitional council,” yet to be defined except for the usage of the word “transitional,” that would be developed so that the bishop and the diocese could better define and move forward on the understanding and ministries of deacons. This council would not be a short term approach but a thoughtful and deliberate body addressing the myriad of misunderstandings about deacons. Whatever the outcome, the gathered deacons were asked for their input to the process.

Clergy Relationships
Relationships among clergy are important. Perhaps unknown to some, bishops and priests serve the Church in a collegial relationship. When a transitional deacon is ordained into the priesthood both the bishop and fellow priests touch the ordinand in the ordination liturgy. 

Deacons, however, are "attached" to their bishop in a superior-subordinate relationship. Priests, be it known, also serve under their bishops. But the bishop-deacon relationship is different. When a deacon is ordained, only the bishop's hands touch the ordinand. In traditional viewings of this relationship, deacons act on their bishop's biddings.

For me, I appreciate the attitude and effort behind calling this gathering of deacons. None of us will curtail our ministries while this transitional council works, of course not. We know the difficulties inherent in the undertaking of such a council, but we are prayerful that only good will emerge from their work. To say that we are grateful - for the efforts preceding this gathering - would be an understatement.

The gathering of deacons this past weekend, I believe, marks a new beginning. The long term results following this beginning will praise God and benefit His Holy Church.

A Blessing
As a deacon directly attached to his bishop, I believe I am authorized to bless the readers of this essay, and myself, with this modified, responsorial pontifical [episcopal] blessing.

Deacon           Our help is in the Name of the Lord;
Readers         The maker of heaven and earth.

Deacon           Blessed be the Name of the Lord;
Readers         From this time forth for evermore.

Deacon           May the blessing, mercy, and grace of God Almighty,
                         the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon
                         us, and remain with us for ever.  Amen.

Deacon           Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the
                        power of the Spirit.
Readers          Thanks be to God.