The holiest time of the year is the conclusion of Lent. It’s called the Triduum. It begins Holy Thursday and continues until the Easter Vigil Mass. Triduum is Latin for three days.  It’s unique because it is a single liturgy that spans three days.

It begins on Holy Thursday. During this Mass, the oils used in our sacraments [the Oil the Catechumens, Oil of the Sick, and Holy Chrism] are presented to the parish. The liturgy commemorates the establishment of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  The Sacrament of Holy Orders was also initiated by Christ on Holy Thursday; the apostles were commissioned through Christ’s example of the washing of the feet.  Our liturgy includes washing of the feet.  The entire community is invited to participate.  The process is simple.  We have several stations around the church. Each person washes the feet of the person in front of them.  At the conclusion of the liturgy, the Blessed Sacrament is taken in procession to the Altar of Repose in the community room.  It remains there until midnight for public adoration.

The liturgy continues on Good Friday. Since Mass was celebrated on Holy Thursday, and Good Friday is a continuation of that liturgy, there is no Mass on Good Friday; there is a Liturgy of the Word so there is the opportunity to receive communion.  When entering the building, you will notice a big difference in the appearance of the gathering space; everything is gone.  You will observe the same thing in the worship space; for example, there are no altar cloths.  The emptiness of the space is a reminder of our life would be like without Christ.  Our Gospel on Good Friday is the Passion of the Lord.  As a remembrance of His sacrifice on the cross, there will be an opportunity to venerate the cross.

Holy Thursday and Good Friday are solemn days as we reflect on Christ’s suffering and death.  The Easter Vigil celebrates His resurrection.  His triumph over death makes possible our salvation. The adults and children over seven have dedicated themselves for the last year to learn about the Catholic Church. They will be received into the church through their Baptism and Confirmation  It is the traditional celebration of the reception of adults into the church.  While the liturgy is longer than a regular Sunday Mass [and not a place for young children], it’s a deeply moving liturgy from the entrance into a darkened church in procession with the Paschal Candle, the singing of the Gloria and the final dismissal, It’s a truly special liturgy.

This year [2018] marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the modern permanent diaconate in the United States. Vatican II restored the order in 1968, and the first U.S. formation classes began in 1968. Seven men were ordained as permanent deacons in 1971; there are now over 18-thousand deacons, with over 2,000 men in formation every year since 1975.

Acts 6:1-6 tells the story of the first permanent deacons. Peter ordained them to assist with the more practical needs of the communities, but they did much more.  St. Stephen, one of those first seven, was stoned to death for preaching.  He’s recognized as the church’s first martyr.

The modern diaconate traces its roots to the German concentration camps of WW II. Priest-prisoners were held at Dachau. There, they discussed how the church could serve the survivors of both the camps and the civilian victims of six years of war.  They saw the permanent diaconate as a solution; that vision was realized at Vatican II.

Even after 50 years, there is still much confusion about deacons. The role of all ordained ministries is to be modeled on the life of Christ, and that of deacons especially was and still is, that of Christ the servant. A deacon, like a priest and bishop, has the sacramental grace of ordination. He is a cleric, ordained “not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service”. Through his ordination, the deacon acts “in imago Dei” – in the image of God”. A deacon is a servant in three areas: Word, Liturgy and Charity. Ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, and teaching. Liturgical ministry involves spoken parts of the Mass; he serves as an ordinary minister of Communion. Charitable ministries vary widely depending on the community’s needs. [My ministry of charity is at the county jail]. A deacon, with the consent of his wife, makes a lifelong commitment to service in the church. [Yes, I’m married; but should my wife die, I will be bound by the rule of celibacy].

July 22-26, 3,000 deacons, wives, priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals gathered in New Orleans to commemorate this anniversary.     

I was ordained in the Archdiocese of San Antonio [Texas] in June 1987. I've ministered in the military community at Ramstein Air Base Germany, with the deployed forces in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait supporting Operations Desert Shield/Storm, and at Fort Benjamin Harrison [Indianapolis] Indiana. For the past 20 years, I have served at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Noblesville Indiana. Originally from Charlotte Michigan, I served a 25-year career in the Air Force [1970-1995] as a Public Affairs practitioner retiring as a Senior Master Sergeant [E-8]. Following his time in the Air Force, I entered my second career as a high school English teacher retiring after 15 years in the classroom.  I hold two Associates in Applied Science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, an Associate of Arts from the University of Maryland, and Bachelor's and Master's of Science degrees in Secondary Education from Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis. Kathy and I have three children: Michael [a major in the Air Force], Audrey [a production control specialist with NAVISTAR], and Erica [a major in the Army].

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