Periodically, people ask me what my Sundays are like. I answered that question a few years ago when my blog was at Beliefnet. I re-read the post recently. To my surprise, not much has changed.
4:45 – Arrived for 5 pm vigil mass. Looked over the gospel and the Prayers of the Faithful, to see what strange and hard-to-pronounce names might be listed among the deceased. Dragged my chair out of the sacristy, to place next to the Presider’s in the sanctuary. Since I have two dalmatics to use in Ordinary Time, I picked out the one in the shade of green that most closely matched the priest’s. [We don’t have dalmatics at my parish that match the priests’ chasubles.] Celebrant was Fr. Jan, from the Czech Republic. I wasn’t scheduled to preach, but earlier in the week I offered my services to him for his two masses, the 5 Saturday and 8:30 Sunday. He was happy to accept. At 5, none of the scheduled altar servers had shown up, so I also ended up being the altar boy, too. I assisted Fr. Jan and preached. After mass, as I’m leaving, I bumped into my pastor who asked me if I’d like to do my homily again for him at the 10. “Sure,” I said. “I’ll be here anyway for the 8:30. It’ll be a double-header.”SUNDAY
8:15 – Arrived for the 8:30 mass. I assisted and preached for Fr. Jan, and then the did the same at the 10 for my pastor. After finishing the 10, I went into the rectory for a cup of coffee and found Msgr. O’Toole, a visitor from Florida (and, so help me, a dead ringer for Barry Fitzgerald) poring over the Sunday Times at the kitchen table. We were soon joined by Fr. Jan, who couldn’t get over the fact that the communion meditation music was a Bach sonata heard in the movie “Meet Joe Black.” This led to a discussion of the thespian abilities of Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt. Msgr. O’Toole was celebrating the 11:30, so after some trenchant analysis about tennis and the U.S Open (about which I know nothing) and New York weather, we headed into the sacristy.
The scheduled lector didn’t show up. I scanned the half-empty church for a substitute. No luck. Once again, I tossed on my dalmatic and headed out to assist Msgr. O’Toole. After that, I hung out in the sacristy during the final mass, which began at 1 pm. My wife always attends the 1 on Sundays, so I caught up with her after mass and we walked home together. Once home, I checked the blog for comments or e-mails, then dragged myself into the bedroom for a long nap.
I’m sure other deacons can relate. Sunday, for us, is hardly a day of rest.
Sometimes, my Sunday stretches a couple of hours longer. Every three months, I have baptisms, so those will extend my afternoon, and periodically I am pressed into handling a Sunday wake.
But I’m usually at the parish from about 10 to 2 every Sunday. With few exceptions, I preach every week, sometimes more than once (as I did just this weekend — long story). More often than not, the two days between Friday and Monday are little more than a liturgical blur.
Oh sure: I envy some of my colleagues who wander into work on Monday, tanned and rested from outings at the beach or barbecues by the bay. What is that like, I wonder? But at the same time, I wouldn’t trade places for a minute. The diaconate is the gift that keeps on giving, and I can’t stop counting my blessings. Five years into this great journey, I continue to have my heart uplifted and energized by a kind of spiritual rocket fuel that is propelling me to places I never dreamed.
Some might call it adrenalin.
But I think it must be grace.