“How can we deacons best serve the common good of all peoples?”

“I have the sense that we Catholics, this Lent, have some serious soul-searching to do during this period of Purification and Enlightenment (as we refer to it in the RCIA).  Anyone who has followed the blogosphere or any number of media outlets covering the latest scandals, the latest lawsuits, the latest public debates on religious freedom realizes that it is not only WHAT people are saying that is so disturbing, but HOW they are saying it!  Is this REALLY how Catholic Christians should engage in the kind of serious, reasoned discourse that our contemporary world — and its amazingly complex realities — deserves?  How does this kind of public behavior reflect the inner transformation that should mark our ongoing metanoia as people of faith?

Specifically for readers of this blog: how can we deacons best serve the common good of all peoples?  How can we find ways to reconcile and unite rather than continue the vitriolic alienation of good people who are simply trying to do their best with their lives?”

– Deacon Bill Ditewig, wise as always

Read it all.


  1. I think it’s a good idea to have an explicit list of ground rules that you follow when posting on Facebook or in comboxes. Here’s my list:

    (1) I try only to post links to pieces with intelligent content.
    (2) I try not to rant.
    (3) I try not to make personal remarks.
    (4) I try to avoid sarcasm/snarkery.
    (5) I try not to read souls.

    I haven’t been 100% successful following this, but I’ve probably done better than I would have without a conscious list of rules.

  2. “What is specific to the life and ministry of deacons could be summarized in
    a single word: fidelity – fidelity to the Catholic tradition, especially as
    witnessed to by the lex orandi, fidelity to the magisterium, fidelity to the
    task of re-evangelization which the Holy Spirit has brought about in the
    church.” John Paul II, 11/30/95

  3. Beautifully said, Deacon Bill. We all need to examine what we’re saying and how we’re saying it. We should remember that anyone who cares enough to post on these religious-oriented sites generally are doing so with good hearts and with the best of intentions. We are all on a journey and need to be willing to support each other. If we feel someone is off base, we can comment without being judgmental or harsh or always trying to prove how we’re right and “they” are wrong. Karen’s list above is a very good start.

  4. On the contrary, I’m having an invigorating Lent. Not just with the Lenten activities at the parish, but with the bishops’ stand against the Administration. I, like most “professional Catholics,” expected the bishops as a group to roll over and play dead in the face of the decree of Augustus Sibelius, just like too many of the Catholic hospitals, Catholic social services, and universities have over the years. Lo and behold, all of our bishops responded with articulate responses and the USCCB has been a font of both user-friendly and deeply thoughtful information for those who care to look. Our US Catholics can see, most for the first time, their bishops openly standing up for the defense of God’s Holy Church along the lines of St. Ambrose instead of being the functionaries they have been for decades. A lesson is being learned among the rank-and-file: Caesar is not God and his laws are not necessarily moral either. I give thanks to God that I am alive to see this!

    As for the blogosphere, who would base their emotional state of mind upon it? It is a medium that is too unnuanced: most commentators (myself included) only devote enough time to write in black-and-white. I enjoy the 20% that is articulate, skim through the other 80%, and then go about the real life of faith. But it cannot be denied that the Catholic blogosphere has done more to clean up the rotten state of AmChurch by public exposure than any number of Roman and USCCB documents. Gross abuse of the liturgy and clerical and “professional Catholic” misdeeds in the name of the Church can swiftly be brought to light, unchecked by the omnipotent chancery rat who used to file away letters to the bishop or the self-satisfied university president.

  5. I guess, FrMichael, that you decided to revert to the unnuanced black and white vitorol for the last part of your post. I would hope a “professional Catholic” like yourself could strive to stay a bit above the fray to act as an example for the rest of us. Disappointing.

  6. ron chandonia says:

    Deacon Bill directed his post specifically to fellow deacons, perhaps in the hope that they could set a standard for other clerics as well as the laity. Right now, I suspect some of them are probably pumped up by the escalating war of words over the HHS mandate, while others are resolved to stay as far away from that issue–and any other controversial public issue–as they possibly can. Neither seems to be the right alternative, particularly for those who take seriously the responsibility of the Church to offer a prophetic voice on issues of social justice. The real challenge is to address political concerns candidly without falling into partisan rhetoric. Doing that may well require stifling strong personal feelings in order to view the issues at hand in the light of Catholic teaching. Deacon Greg seems very good at doing that; for other deacons–and for many of the rest of us–it does not come easily.

  7. I’m not a deacon but here are my thoughts for what their worth.

    If you’re looking for civility, you are fighting against two fronts. First, American politics is typically not civil. It goes back to our founding fathers. Second, you’re on the internet. The internet is not exactly conducive to civility.

    If you are looking to present a blog that projects God’s peace, you’ll have to avoid hot button issues, especially politics. But then you won’t get the viewership. Look at the entries that get the most comments. However, we need a forum where we can exchange opinions, even if it means throwing a few elbows around. That’s a basketball metaphor. Sometimes the game has to be played with inner toughness. In the end, I do think we have love for one another here, even between those at opposite ends of the spectrum. I’d like to think once the game is over, we’d all share a nice beer.

  8. Today’s prayer:
    Holy God, undivided God, do not let me be part of the problem, but a part of the Answer. Keep me from being scattered.
    This is a prayer I’ve borrowed, but like much and I will use throughout tomorrow as sort of a montra.
    I learned rather recently that evil is not (out there) but right here -me. The only way we can begin to fix this scatteredness, is to look inwardly at ourselves. “If you want to pray, enter your inner room and close the door, and pray to your father in secret”. This is obviously aimed at depening our own personal relationship with God. Are we doing this? Have we changed the direction in which we find our happiness?
    The first thing He said when he began to preach was, “Repent”. Most christian scholars agree that this word does not refer to penitential exercises, or external practices but means, change the direction in which you find your happiness. Aimed at a jew in 1st century palestine, this could have been taken as, turn back to Jerusalem, the the temple. We know it meant, turn to Me. Are we turning to him, or are we to busy wanting to prove we’re (right) all the time about (everything) and becoming offended when someone diagrees with what we have to say. Do we so overidentify with our group, affiliations, position, status, titles, egos, whatever, that when we’re personally challenged on any of these things we come apart, become offended. And have to defend, at all costs. Is your identity in these?! Is this where we find our satisfation? Our affections? Our comfort? Our happiness. It better not be. Where was it ever said in the Gospel that any of this was ever important? Oh-man. It seems sometimes that we can become so entrenched in our own hurt feelings and uneasy consciences, we forget that the One who accepts all of us and I mean all of us, sometimes at least with me, has to patiently wait through an enormous self-centeredness that seems unending. I don’t want to be scattered. Do you? Really? Or will you be inclusive and maybe have to be patient with others? And if you have any doubts, you might want to read Jesus’ parable of The Great Banquet. One last thought. As a priest or a deacon, can you be as patient as He? I know He’s been patient with me. I can at-least try.

  9. Fiergenholt says:

    Let me add to this list by including these guidelines I suggested on this blog a good year ago.

    –Limit an individual posting to 200 words and three main clearly written ideas.

    –Limit yourself to ONE posting per stream.

    –Have the courage to stop and back-off if you think the “trolls” are ganging up on you.

    There are about six “trolls” on this blog who flagrantly violate the first two.

  10. I don’t know who you consider a troll, but you can’t have a give and take conversation with only one post per stream.

  11. Agree with Manny. To think we can all sing Kumbaya (well, or write it on the blog) and put our heads on a hole on the ground and pretend all is fuzzy love feelings, and ignore the culture struggle going on, is not naive, but misguided. Take some time to read the Church Fathers of the early centuries, and you will find heated debate; read Saint Jerome and you will probably shrink at his “vitriol”. Love is not precisely the same thing as niceness, and in a culture that is turning each day more hostile to our Catholic faith, sometimes you have to stand up.

  12. Deacon Norb says:


    I generally agree with “fiergenholt” here and — yes — he does go over 200 words per post on occasion.

    BUT I also recall seeing Deacon Greg suggest some time back to folks who monopolize this blog with long convoluted back-and-forth “conversations” to create their own BLOG with their own rules.

    Maybe it’s time for him to restate that suggestion.

  13. deacon dave says:


    The Prayer of St. Ephrem is taken in the Byzantine Church during the Liturgy of the Presanctified (Liturgy of Pope St. Gregory the Great, taken by both Catholic and Orthodox alike during this period), during all services of the Divine Office during Lent and at various other times during the day recommended at morning, noon, evening – upon arising and before retiring for night night

    {Making a prostration}

    O LORD, Master of my life, grant that I may not be infected with the
    spirit of slothfulness and inquisitiveness, with the spirit of ambition and vain talking.

    {Making a prostration}

    Grant instead to me, your servant, the spirit of purity and of
    humility, the spirit of patience and neighborly love.

    {Making a third prostration}

    O Lord and King, grant me the grace of being aware of my sins and of not thinking evil of those of my brethren.
    For you are blessed, now and ever, and forever.


    Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, You have power over life
    and death. You know what is secret and hidden, and neither our
    thoughts nor our feelings are concealed from You.
    Cure me of duplicity; I have done evil before You.
    Now my life declines from day to day and my sins increase.
    O Lord, God of souls and bodies, You know the extreme frailty of
    my soul and my flesh.
    Grant me strength in my weakness, O Lord, and sustain me in my misery. Give me a grateful soul that I may never cease to recall
    Your benefits, O Lord most bountiful.
    Be not mindful of my many sins, but forgive me all my misdeeds.
    O Lord, disdain not my prayer – the prayer of a wretched
    sinner; sustain me with Your grace until the end, that it may
    protect me as in the past.
    It is Your grace which has taught me wisdom; blessed are they who follow her ways, for they shall receive the crown of glory.
    In spite of my unworthiness, I praise You and I glorify You,
    O Lord, for Your mercy to me is without limit.
    You have been my help and my protection. May the name of Your majesty be praised forever.
    To you, our God, be glory.

  14. Fr. Michael,

    Thanks for illustrating my point.
    I pray you continue to have an invigorating Lent.
    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  15. Dear Rudy,

    I, for one, never suggested Kumbaya as a solution. I also find debate invigorating and illuminuating: I am, after all, a professor of Theology! We thrive on good, healthy debate!

    Believe me, like you, I find the patristics to be a wonderful source of inspiration and passion. St. Jerome, of course, while brilliant, was also certifiably crazy, but that’s a different post (I’m joking, I’m joking!)

    There are many ways to “stand up” and proclaim the Gospel.

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  16. LOL. I get it with Crazy Jerome (and I agree, jokingly also). I did not aim at you with the Kumbaya comment. I also think there are many ways to both serve and stand up for the Gospel. I just think we tend to confuse niceness, sentimentality and wanting to keep the peace at all costs with true love and service. After all it was our Lord who called the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes as vipers, hypocrites and the like, not very “sensitive” language. Of course we need to be civil, but not for the sake of being nice and being liked. Peace!

  17. Deacon Bill, glad to be of service.

    I would offer the Long Lent of 2002 as the worst Lent for the US Church, as the full scope of clerical sexual abuse and episcopal coverup was being revealed. An awful Lent and yet a very necessary one.

  18. I don’t mind the 200 word limit, and I can see even less, but it would be frustrating and counterproductive if there is only one comment per entry. It’s through dialogue that we fully flesh out all sides of an issue.

  19. To you our God be glory. Amen.

  20. Thank you, Deacon.

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