ZEAL IS THE DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTIC OF THE DEACON

The father of the Oblate family rejoices because one of the youngest members has been ordained a deacon – as the final step before priestly ordination. Eugene underlines to this scholastic the importance of a coherent spirituality which will bear fruit in his diaconal service. For him it is always a question of “being” in order to “do.”

With all my heart, I congratulate you, my dear child, for the great grace which the good God has just granted you and I am consoled to see that you know how to appreciate it. I need not recall to you the virtues that you ought to strive to practice more; they must all become familiar to you, you have been raised to a great dignity in the Church, you can only bear the honor by working to become more like a saint every day.

Eugene refers to some of the new deacon’s liturgical functions and the corresponding attitude he should have

You have entered the hierarchy and your important functions call you every day to the door of the tabernacle, bring you closer to the Lamb without stain, on whom you can lovingly gaze, whom it is your privilege to bear in your hands, almost to touch.
Let your heart respond in these happy moments, let it be ardent, let it be purified. Zeal is the distinctive characteristic of the deacon for he has received the spirit of strength, for himself first, his own sanctification and perfection of soul, then to combat the enemies of God and to repulse the demon with that supernatural strength that comes from on high.

Letter to Barthélemy Bernard, 8 April 1824. EO VI n 133

 

“Never let your zeal outrun your charity. The former is but human, the latter is divine.”   Hosea Ballou

 

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One Response to ZEAL IS THE DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTIC OF THE DEACON

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “…. you have been raised to a great dignity in the Church, you can only bear the honor by working to become more like a saint every day.” Isn’t it interesting how our responses and reactions both give view to to where we are at in our attitudes and being. I find myself both heartened and a little saddened at the language and wording and fear if I let myself I can become totally distracted from what I want/need to look at here. The whole male/female thing, hierarchy, the struggle in the church today. And yet what Eugene has written here speaks to me somehow.

    I look at the “great dignity” that I am raised to, as a child of God, as a member of a community(s), as a member of a family, as a part of the Body of Christ. I have been given much, none of it earned, or deserved, all of it gift. And like the young man that Eugene was speaking to I can only bear that honor by working to become a saint – whatever that means to me. I suspect that just as Frank said, it will happen – not through any great efforts of my own by rather in my “being”.

    “Zeal is the distinctive characteristic of the deacon for he has received the spirit of strength, for himself first, his own sanctification and perfection of soul…” Just as above Eugene was speaking to Barthélemy, but again it is not just reserved for young men, or for deacons. One of the definitions of zeal that I found said: “Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective”. I find that reassuring, comforting. I think in our youth [as in the stages of our lives] our zeal might be more visible, louder, infectious, there like a banner for all to see. But later on it’s like it matures in a way, it becomes softer, more quiet, visible in a different way for it has become planted and rooted, waiting to be noticed. I think of Eugene’s words “and zeal for the salvation of souls”, something that he lived and practiced throughout his life, the look of it changed, but it was still there. I paused this morning to read about Zeal in the Oblate Dictionary of Values. It gives a much better, fuller picture of zeal, but it does not change my view of it. So although not ordained [except through my Baptism], zeal is hopefully a distinctive characteristic that I, along with many others, carry and exhibit on our journey.

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