From the Ukrainian Orthodox blog Good Guys Wear Black, some wisdom that could easily be applied to us in the Roman Catholic tradition:
I have talked with many deacons and priests about the diaconate and have attempted to distill their words of wisdom into this advice for new deacons.
Five things that allow the deacon to be a blessing:
Kenosis;Surrender your life to God (through Christ) and Holy Orthodoxy. The Word did not consider Himself so good that He wouldn’t empty Himself for our salvation; St. Paul imitated Christ by becoming what people needed so that some might be saved. It’s not about you – it’s about loving and serving God and His people. No matter how good your voice and vestments are, its all just noise if you don’t get this part right.
Know the Services Cold (but know the ustav/preferred practices of your bishop, priest, and parish, too). Memorize the services and all its variations; mark all your books so that you’ll do the right thing even when your mind goes blank (it will). Communicate with your priest before and after the service to make sure you both get and stay on the same page. Defer to your priest and bishop on the services (and parish life) even when you disagree or your favorite book says something different.Love, Serve, and Support Your Priest. A big part of your calling is supporting your priest. Like a good First Sergeant, you should use your expertise to implement his plan for parish life and evangelization. His approach may be different that yours would be; you can and should give advice, but support him in his decisions and approach … especially in public. Every priest needs someone he can trust to guard his six.
Serve, Serve, Serve, but Always Get a Blessing. From the time of its establishment, the diaconate has had its own role within the community; later, it developed its own liturgical role. Continually grow within those roles and live up to your calling. Your priest should help you with this. Remember that deacons are not independent operators; every deacon is assigned to serve directly under a specific priest (or bishop). Stay in regular contact with your priest about what you are doing and how it is going. Get his blessing for each task. You do this during the Liturgy; Liturgy is life.
Stay Grounded and Balanced. The demands of kenosis and diaconal service do not abrogate your other responsibilities, including the responsibility to keep yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually grounded. Make sure that your service is sustainable. Again, communicate with your priest so that he does not expect too much (or too little) of your time.
He has more. Check it out.
Photo: St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church