Monday, 30 January 2012

Deacon? (10) Self exclusion

The final group of points contains those which, even before my searching and reading began, were known to be reasons for my not becoming a deacon. They automatically exclude me, and, because I have never wanted to become a deacon, and have never had any hint of the possibility of God wanting me to do so, that sense of exclusion in no way troubles me. It is part of my awareness of not having been, and not now being so called. Once again it is my certainties that have made a straight and level road of what might otherwise have been a prolonged, disturbing and tortuous route along the wrong path.

That too confirms to me that the path on which I am travelling is the right one for me, though after twenty years of following it I still do not know what it is to which I am being led.
I would be more worried about this but for there having been times when it has seemed essential that I protest and work to defend myself against wrongs and false accusations, but have somehow managed to do nothing, in response to being guided to do precisely that: to wait, trusting God, and doing and saying nothing in my own defence. In due time everything that had been heaped against me evaporated as though it had never been, and my professional reputation – in the minds and places where I felt it to be of real consequence – remained intact.
That mattered a great deal to me; and allowing everything to happen around me without raising a word in my own defence was the greatest test of trust I have as yet endured. The “all will be well” implication accompanying the instruction to be still, to wait, to do nothing, proved to be the truth.
I also believe its source to have been The Truth.  That too built further on my certainties.

There are still times when I get caught up in the fact that I still don’t know where I am going or what it is that I should be doing; evidence of this has been posted more than once among these pages; but as soon as the stress begins to build I know that I am again being told to wait; I hear once more those quiet words:  “Be still ...”    “Be still ...”
And I am content; I am at peace once more.   For what else could I possibly ask?

Whatever lies ahead: whatever it is to which I am called, I have long believed that I shall know it when it comes. I pray that I am right. Yet I still ask myself, at times, whether I might already have arrived but have failed to recognize the fact. It feels as though my confidence in Him and my need to leave it all in the hands of my Lord is still being tested; perhaps I have yet to be taken even further into the depths and the meaning of placing all my trust in Him.

Without some of my past experiences, I would be unable to admit to some of the difficulties which have confronted me while compiling my lengthy list of qualities and expectations associated with the diaconate. Almost every difficulty has arisen because the points in this group (as shown below) relate to every Catholic, not just to deacons. Unlike my hard to accept call to remain silent, outlined above, saying nothing would be the easy way through life where these points are concerned. Admitting to difficulties arising from some of the Church’s core beliefs is not what most people would willingly want to hear from me, but if the truth is not to be told, then I should not even hint that I have anything to say. I should allow people to gain the impression that I have given no real thought to this matter since being asked the question that started it all. The truth, however, is that many hours of thought have gone into my response.
The short answer remains the same as that which I gave when the question arose; I have known that answer for a long time. But, as stated from the beginning, I needed to understand clearly for myself why I had been, and still was, so sure that the answer is that the diaconate is not for me.

The quotation from the Archdiocese of Westminster Handbook (at the end of Diaconate (3)) speaks of the sowing of seeds, and as I heard them, that is what the words of the question were. Believing that, I could not allow the questioner to assume they had fallen on stony ground or among thorns; they had not. It was rather that, in my eyes at least, the soil and the seed did not appear to match; neither of them was wrong, unproductive, or sterile, but they had to be given time: to await the unseen work of the Holy Spirit, not to generate a vocation where there was not meant to be one, but perhaps to produce unimagined fruit from the combined responses of both questioner and he to whom the question had been directed.
Who can know where the White Dove, having taken a seed in its bill, might go? ...what it might do with it?  ...when?  ...and why?  Ours is not to know such answers; only to trust that something, somewhere, sometime, apparently unconnected maybe, will come of it.
Perhaps my response could have been taken as evidence of workings contrary to everything I had written, and of which I remained blissfully unaware. I write that with a smile, as I am being careful not to contradict what I have already written about not knowing what will come to pass. And as well as that, echoes of other noted lines will not quite be silenced:

‘Alongside God's call and the response of individuals, there is another element constitutive to a vocation, particularly a ministerial vocation: the public call of the Church. (This) should not be understood in a predominantly juridical sense, as if it were the authority that calls which determines the vocation, but in a sacramental sense, that considers the authority that calls as the sign and instrument for the personal intervention of God, which is realised with the laying on of hands.
In this perspective, every proper election expresses an inspiration and represents a choice of God. The Church's discernment is therefore decisive for the choice of a vocation; how much more so, due to its ecclesial significance, is this true for the choice of a vocation to the ordained ministry.’     (Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons. 29)

It is not that those words have been written; nor is it that I have read them and been mildly discomforted by them; the reason for hearing their message, and believing that there is more to arriving at one’s destination than one had at first supposed, is that we must accept that we can never know anything with certainty. Even my own certainties, inevitably reshaped in unknown ways within me, must not be completely relied upon if I am to be truly open to the prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirit. I can have absolutely no preconceived and impenetrable ideas.

I am duly cautioned by that thought.

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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