Acceptance of Diaconate Candidates as Lectors
St Joseph’s Church, Castlemartyr
Sunday 3rd July 2016
Our gathering this morning is unusual in the history of the Diocese of Cloyne. This is the first occasion when the ceremony of acceptance of these men as Lectors, as part of their preparation to serve as Permanent Deacons, will have taken place in the Diocese. The Permanent Diaconate is not a new ministry but is indeed a ministry with its origins in the earliest days of the Church. When the Apostles chose men to assist them particularly to care for those in need. With times passing this ministry faded away until its re-introduction after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
The ministry of the Permanent Deacon is indeed a ministry in its own right and since its re-introduction has made an enormous contribution to the mission of the Church in many parts of the world. Its re-introduction in Ireland is relatively recent. In the Diocese of Cloyne reflection on its introduction has gone on in recent years and today’s ceremony is another step for these men who have responded to this call with faith and generosity. It is now three years since they were accepted as candidates for the Permanent Diaconate. They have undergone an introductory year of preparation prior to undertaking their Theological studies. They have now completed the second year of Theological study. They have been accepted already to serve as acolytes, assisting especially in the celebration of the Liturgy. Today, I am pleased and thankful to accept their application to serve as Lector.
Lector – Reader has its focus on the Word of God in Sacred Scripture. There are three important elements of this ministry. Firstly, the Word must be heard clearly so we speak of proclaiming the Word. Secondly, it must be understood so there is need for explanation. Its context needs to be made clear as does the intention of the writer. Thirdly, there is need to make a connection with our daily life and how it might speak to our hearts. Each of these elements is very important if the Word is to be alive and active in us and among us.
The Gospel reading for today seems especially apt for this celebration of acceptance of these men as Lectors. It is a model of good ministry and sharing the Word. Those who are called to go out and bring the Word into peoples lives do so in a spirit of peace and respect. Accept graciously the hospitality they offer you – stay with them in a spirit of service. With regard to those who do not make you welcome do not be offended by their rejection but respectfully move on to those who are willing to listen.
The Word calls out to be proclaimed, heard understood and lived. Some verses from the Letter to the Hebrews are clear and incisive
“for the Word is alive and active
it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely
it can slip through the place where the soul
is divided from the Spirit, or joints from the
marrow; it can judge the secret emotions
and thoughts. No created thing can hide
from it: everything is uncovered and open
to the eyes of the one to whom we must
give account of ourselves”. Heb. 4:12-13
In sharing the Word it is good to keep in mind the verses from the Prophet Isaiah (Is. 55:8-11)
“For the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.
For, as the rain and the snow come down from the sky
and do not return before having watered the earth,
fertilising it and making it germinate
to provide seed for the sower and food to eat,
so it is with the word that goes from my mouth:
it will not return to me unfulfilled
or before having carried out my good pleasure
and having achieved what it was sent to do”.