One set down, two more to go

OK, I got through part of the video backlog. I posted all the ones associated to the backpacking trip: 7/11, 7/12, 7/13 and 7/14.

I figure I’ve got two sets let to catch up on. One is the “from the cabin” set recorded 7/16, 7/17 and 7/18 (although 7/18 was recorded at home, but is reflective of the trip). The other is the ones from this week, which I only found time for two thus far: 7/24 and 7/26.

But unfortunately I’m not going to get to those soon as I’m back off to the cabin for one last trip before the kids are back in school (in less than 2 weeks!). I’m hopefully I can catch up on the backlog by the end of next week, but we’ll see, because I also hope to create videos tonight, 7/27 and tomorrow 7/28 from the cabin as well as a couple early next week from the cabin.

Expect to see my next post, next Weds., 8/1.

Video Diary: 14th Saturday in Ordinary Time

(Posting note: This was recorded on Saturday July 14th, but I didn’t find time to edit, transcribe and post until today, Friday July 26th.  I apologize for the poor audio quality.  Between the cars going by on the road and I think a weak connection between my microphone and the smartphone, it isn’t my best audio.)

A blessed 14th Saturday in Ordinary Time to you and your family.  I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this is my 11th video in my series as a newly ordained deacon.  As expected I did make it back to the cabin today.  Perhaps you can see behind me here, I’m no longer on the trail or in my tent.  It was a lot of very difficult hiking to get here.  My youngest son Peter did exceptionally well in very difficult hiking environments.

A question people may have had is how do I keep up with my prayers while on the trail?  Do I bring my full book along?

This is one of the rare cases where I actually resort the phone and particularly the iBriviary app.  I have to bring a phone for other reasons on the trail.  It’s how I take pictures.  It’s how I do satellite communication and a number of things.  I think it’s worth it to have it all in one package.  I’m very weight conscious on the trail.  Normally I’m very opposed to the idea of doing the breviary out of the phone.  A lot of people like it because it automatically organizes everything.  You don’t have to worry about all your ribbons and getting everything straight.  And that’s a reasonable concern.

But for me, that’s a big distraction having that on my phone.  A text comes in; an e-mail comes in; anything like that, and it really breaks my prayer concentration.  So I’ve decided long ago that for the most part I never use the app.  I use the book.  That way I can focus on prayer and not worry about the interruptions that come along with trying to do your prayers on the phone.  It is nice how they organize things.  You don’t have to worry about what day it is and setting the ribbons and all that kind of complicated stuff.  But I just don’t think it is worth the penalty that comes from having to be connected to your phone.

Now on the trail, I’ll use the app, in part because of the weight, but also because there’s no e-mails coming in.  There’s no texts coming in.  I’m in the middle of nowhere where there’s no cell reception or wifi or anything like that.  So it’s not a concern out there.  Kind of a win-win in that situation.  Not only do they have it all organized, but you can download a whole week’s worth of it, which is what I did in this case, and still keep up with your prayers.

Now, a little bit of a mea culpa, for the first time this morning, throughout the trip, I didn’t do my morning prayers.  I was so consumed with getting here to my destination that I overlooked it.  I think it’s the first time since I’ve been ordained that I’ve missed my prayers.  I’m not sure exactly how I’ll deal with that.  Tonight I’ll do some sort of make-up prayer.  Maybe I’ll do both evening and night prayer as kind of a compensation.  Maybe I’ll do morning prayer as well as evening prayer.  I haven’t decided.  But I do think it’s important to keep up your prayer routines and find some way to make up for it when you don’t.  Even though technically it’s not fulfilling the letter of the law, I think it is following the spirit of the law.

I’m very glad to have finished the trip successfully.  I’m very proud of my boys for having done it.  We did 54 miles in 4 days.  That’s a lot of miles and a lot of up and down.  They did great.

Now I have a few days at the family cabin that you see behind (me).  I won’t be posting anything still yet for a number of days.  I won’t be posting tomorrow or making a video tomorrow because Sundays I try to take off.  I will try to do one Monday and Tuesday before returning to the home studio Wednesday.

Hopefully the background noise of vehicles passing by having completely ruined this video (no such luck!).  The great news about being out on the trail, again, none of those distractions.  But here we have vehicles driving by and what have you.  We’ll see when I get home how bad that’s been for the video.  Hopefully it will work out fine.

In any case, hopefully you like the clean version of me.  A nice (clean) shirt here and all of those sorts of things over the very grimy person you saw growing every day on the trail.  But in either case, God bless you.  God bless you and your family.  I will pray for you.  I ask for your prayers for my ministry and safe return.  There’s no need to pray for the trip anymore because we’re done.  By the glory of God it was a wonderful, wonderful trip and we got home safely, to the cabin safely.  So thank you for watching, and God willing, I’ll be able to post one of these on Monday.

Video Diary: 14th Friday in Ordinary Time

(Posting note: This was recorded on Friday July 13th, but I didn’t find time to edit, transcribe and post until today, Friday July 26th.  This is the last one on the trail so video quality will be improving with the next post.)

A blessed 14th Friday in Ordinary Time to you and your family.  I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this the 10th in my video series as a newly ordained deacon.   I was ordained on June 30th, just coming up on 2 weeks now, pretty soon.  For those of you who have been watching, I’m on a backpacking trip right now.  I finished day 3.  I’m here in the tent.  It was a long day today, 16 miles, which was very hard on particularly my 10 year old (son).  Which is I think my topic for this evening, when he was distracted, when we were talking about his older brother’s potential girl interest or about things that didn’t get done this summer that dad wasn’t too pleased with his older brothers, he was fine.  He would hike and hike and hike and hike.  But then when the focus would come on to how tired he was, then all of a sudden he would be on the verge of tears because it was a long, long hike.

In fairness to him, it was a long, long day.

But my point is, I think that’s a good metaphor for life.  There are times when we let our difficulties consume us in ways that we shouldn’t.  If we were just to focus on other things; focus on the positives in our lives; focus on the good things that we want to focus on; we could endure many of the hardships that we sometimes let cripple us.  One of the neat things about being on the trail is that there are so many metaphors for struggle and perseverance in life.  This was the one that stuck out to me today.  Sometimes we just need to focus on other things; not worry so much about the particulars of what is bother us and just say ‘you know, just keep doing what we’re doing’.  Do we have a path to success?  Are we following where God wants us to go?  And if so, just endure the hardship.   Don’t worry about it.  It will be fine.  You’ll look back on it as a great thing.

That’s the funny thing about the backpacking trips.  (And I’ve been doing them for 5 plus years now with the boys, as they’ve reached the appropriate age, so the youngest one is just now starting, this is his first year.  Where my sophomore in high school has been doing it for a number of years now.)  There’s so many trips where it just seemed like they couldn’t care less, that they hated the experience, that they hated their father for at least some short period of time.  Then they get home.  They want to talk about how it was the most awesome thing that ever happened.  They are so glad they went.  It was awesome.  It was wonderful.  Telling their mother, my wife, all about it.  And again, it’s often that sort of thing.  Sometimes we look back on our hardships as the greatest times in our lives.

So lets endure them with more peace; with more comfort; with more knowledge that God puts us where He needs us to be.  Sometimes that’s very challenging.  Sometimes He needs us to grow in some way and the only way for that to happen is by going through this hardship.  Sometimes this hardship is for someone else’s benefit, who really needs it and can’t bear it, but we can bear it for them.  And that’s OK.  Let’s not worry so much.  There’s so many good things in life.

There’s an old musician who had this analogy, he said, “If we could just start flying.  Not in an airplane, but like we had wings and FLY!  We’d be thrilled for… you know… a week.  And then a week later it would be like ‘Well everyone can fly, why am I special? I can only do what everyone else can do.'”  We are blessed with so many things but we compare ourselves in relative ways that are unnecessary.  Poor children in the worst part of the world have joy in their lives.  How can that be?

Well, it can be because there is still joy even amongst poverty.  Not that we shouldn’t try to help people in poverty, but no matter what situation you are in, in life, this existence is a beautiful, wonderful existence.  It is something to be joyous about.  Sometimes we forget that.  Sometimes we need to be put through hard times to recognize that.  Sometimes we need to know a difficult time so the good times are all that much better.

Let’s just try endure those tough times with peace.

This actually should be the last on the trail report.  I’m still not going to be back in internet connectivity land for a handful of more days because we’re going to be at the family cabin and it is out of internet zone.  I don’t know how my children will survive that travesty.  So I’ll post a couple more from the cabin, but of course you won’t know any of this until I get home and can post the entire series.

With that, God bless you.  God bless your families.  Pray for me.  Pray for my ministry.  Pray retroactively for this hike that I’m finishing up.  I will pray for you and your family.  And God willing, I’ll be able to post one of these tomorrow.

Video Diary: 14th Thursday in Ordinary Time

(Posting note: This was recorded on Thursday July 12th, but I didn’t find time to edit, transcribe and post until today, Friday July 26th.  And while the in the tent version today is a bit better than yesterday, I still apologize for how horrible I look.  What can I say, the trail is not kind to one’s appearance!)

A blessed 14th Thursday in Ordinary Time to you and your family.  I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this is my 9th video as newly ordained deacon.  You know, as I recorded this the 1st time (this is a repeat, for those of you who want to know the truth behind the series, so to speak) I couldn’t remember whether this is the 9th one.  It has been such a long couple days on the trail that you start to wonder, is this still the 8th, is it the 9th, I’m not sure… so… but I’m pretty confident after doing this again, that this is indeed my 9th video.  It is Thursday and I’ve recorded every day this week, plus 5 last week.

My topic for today is more about accepting the path in front of you.  As I was walking along today I did something that I very frequently do on the trail, and it is particularly easy to do when it is a long day of hiking, is that you really get frustrated when the trail goes down and then goes up and then goes down and then goes up.  And you’re thinking WHY?  Sometime you can even see a way that the path could gone a different path and stayed more level.  Personally, I can hike a lot faster on flat ground.  I can go 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 miles an hour with a loaded pack on flat ground.  But going downhill I’m down to about 2 miles an hour as you’re trying to watch your footing.  And uphill it can go really slow.  I can be down to a mile an hour.  In fact, I usually judge it not so much based on distance but based on how many vertical feet I’m gaining.  I think I can do usually about 800 feet an hour, or when I was in a little bit better shape 1000 feet an hour.  It didn’t matter whether that was over a half mile or two miles.  So it’s a lot slower doing those things that going on flat (ground).  So you’re thinking, “WHY IS THIS TRAIL TORTURING ME!?!  They could have just moved around that peninsula over there and I would have had to go down and up and up and up.”

And it occurred to me that I’m being way too picky.  I’m blessed to have the life I have.  I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be on the trail with my boys.  My boy Peter is sitting right here with me in the tent.  (In fact, I hope you like the ‘in tent edition’.  I was hoping that perhaps it would be a little bit more stable and have good video.)  But it’s just such a blessed place to be.  There’s wonderful scenery out there.  It was a great day on the trail.  And here I am spending a good third of my time obsessing about whether the trail could have been that much more perfect.

I think we do that with a lot of things in our life.  We get too bogged down in minutia that by the way, we may not be right about.  We may be wrong.  There may be an exceptionally good reason why the trail went up and down as opposed to around the way that looks to me like a reasonably good way to go.  But I didn’t actually hike over there.  I don’t actually know whether that would have been good and fine.  And I think this analogy applies to so many things in our lives.  We get worried about the path and which way it goes and it should be and whether it is ideal as possible.  We need to instead focus on, is this overall a good journey?  Is this overall where God is leading us?  Are we thinking about what is really important and not letting the minutia, the details, mess everything up?

That’s my thought for today.  I always like to keep these short.  I think I’m going to keep them doubly short on the trail because I am TIRED!  We did 11 miles yesterday and it was almost all up hill, about 5500 vertical feet up.  Today we did 12 miles and we did it all before 2 o’clock so that we could get to this campground and hopefully get a spot before it filled up on a Thursday of people starting to think about coming out for the weekend (which we did, thank goodness).  Thank the Good Lord for that!  It would have been very hard if the campground wasn’t open.  So, going to keep this short.  Hopefully you like the ‘in-tent edition’ better.

God bless you.  God bless your families.  I will pray for you.  I ask that you pray for my ministries.  I ask that you pray retroactively for this journey that we’re on, this backpacking trip.  And God willing, I’ll be able to record one of these tomorrow.  God bless.

Video Diary: Feast of St. Benedict (July 11th, 2018)

(Posting note: This was recorded on Wednesday, July 11th but I didn’t find time to edit, transcribe and post until today, Thursday July 26th.  Also, I apologize for the *HORRIBLE* video quality and my ridiculously ugly mug.  I don’t think I really looked that bad in person, but the combo of the lighting, poor video quality and the such made me look ridiculously bad.  The good news is I think the following two days, which were recorded inside the tent, look a little better.)

A blessed Feast of St. Benedict to all of you, and blessing to you and your family.  I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this is the 8th in my video series as a newly ordained Deacon.   As a reminder I was ordained Saturday June 30th, a week and a half ago.

As promised I’m doing video diaries from the field.  This is me at my first campsite for the evening.  As you can see, I’ve been working hard all day.  This is not the most attractive mug you’ve ever seen but oh well!

It was a beautiful day today.  We hiked up a very large hill to get up on the plateau above the river canyon, the boys and I.  It just reminded me how special of a creation that God created for us.  I love getting out here and being amongst the trees and nature and all those sorts of things.  The other thing that struck me, we past a ton of hiker today.  The Pacific Crest trail has become amazingly popular.  We passed 70 people today going the other way on the trail.  It’s the peak period.  At some level it’s not surprising the number is high.  It is surprising that it is THAT high.  In any case, people are very nice on the trail.  They greet each other, they say hi, all those things.  And I noticed I wasn’t willing to give them any sort of a Catholic or Christian greeting.  You know, ‘God bless you’ or ‘God’s spirit be with you’ or anything like that.  I was very secular in what I would say.

I’m not sure I like that.  I think that this is something I need to consider and work on.  But on the other hand I need to do it in a way that is tactful and not derisive to anyone.  (Sorry for the mosquito swatting.  I’m wearing repellent but these suckers are very, very determined to get to me.)

So I think that’s my thought for the day.  How far do we go?  How much do we challenge ourselves?  As a deacon, do I challenge myself further than I would have as a lay person.  I don’t know…

I’m going to keep these short as always.  God’s blessing to all of you.  I hope all of you have opportunities like this to get out into nature to commune with the creation that God made for us.  I will pray for you.  I will pray for your families.  I continue to ask for you prayers for my ministry and in the short term (although you won’t see this until after I get back) I wouldn’t mind prayer for our safe journey.

And with that, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Posts finally coming!

OK, I apparently needed a vacation after my vacation.  Backpacking always takes a lot out of me and I’ve spent the last week getting my feet back underneath me and cleaning up.  As a result, the video editing, transcribing and posting has been non-existent.  The good news is I do have a few new videos created since I got home, so there’s lots of content to post.  My hope is to get a handful posted before I leave on a 4-day vacation starting tomorrow.

Backlog going to take a few days…

I made videos on:

  • Weds 7/11
  • Thurs 7/12
  • Fri 7/13
  • Sat 7/14
  • Mon 7/16
  • Tues 7/17

But the whole time I was “off the grid” and so they haven’t been posted.  I had indicated in previous videos (as well as a number of the yet to be posted ones) that I would get them posted today, but I sorely under estimated my other backlog items, including an online class I need to finish up this week.

My expectation is I’ll be able to post 2-3 a day and be caught up by early next week.  I’ll also be recording episodes for the remainder of the week, but I’ll post them in chronological order.

I apologize for the delay.

Video Diary: 14th Tuesday in Ordinary Time

A blessed 14th Tuesday in Ordinary Time. I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this is my 7th video as a newly ordained deacon. God bless you to you all this morning and God bless you to your families.

Today I want to talk a little bit about spiritual direction, something I had to engage in during the formation process, with specific spiritual direction with a spiritual director. I started out with somebody who was a dear friend and priest but not particularly trained in spiritual direction. It was an enjoyable experience but later learned when I went to someone who was well trained in spiritual direction that actually it was not good spiritual direction.

I think there is a great need in our world for spiritual direction. It is so difficult to see in ourselves certain patterns. It’s the same reason we need a psychologist in certain cases. But unlike a psychologist who really is trying to deal with negative situations and correcting them, spiritual direction can hopefully be something in the positive direction. We can look at our lives and our spirituality and our relationship with God and finding ways to grow to closer to Him.

It has changed my life to have good spiritual direction. Fr. Dave has done a wonderful job of guiding me, not telling me what to do, but letting God tell me what to do and helping me listen to God better. There was one key moment where I said something and he told me, “Do you think that came from Christ?” And I had to reflect and say “No, I don’t think it did.” It was not something that would have occurred to me without the benefit of spiritual direction.

The difficult part is it is difficult to get a spiritual director. I was able to get one because I was in formation and I have been able to latch on to him and stick with him as a newly ordained deacon, but it is very difficult to find a spiritual director. But I encourage you to try. It’s a difficult thing. It’s worth the effort. It’s not something you only need when you’re in trouble or struggling spiritually. If anything it is at its best when you are not, when you are trying to grow and deepen your spirituality. So go out and find one. Find someone who’s well trained. A clergyman is awesome but it doesn’t need to be. Lay people can do this job wonderfully. Just find someone who’s a good trained spiritual director. I personally I like an Ignatian model but there are other models that are worth investigating as well.

So that’s my topic for today, but I do have one more thing to discuss. I’m going on a backpacking trip and then a trip to my family cabin, starting tomorrow. So I won’t be posting videos but I will be recording videos from the trail. So what you’re going to see is for about the week, you’ll see some short text posts that will say they are from an InReach device (because that’s my satellite device that I can communicate with from on the trail) to the blog portion. But no podcasts and no video diary.

But I will be recording the video diary every day so when I get home I will do my best to post all of those within a couple days of returning, as well as returning to the normal daily format from my home office. So it’s going to be a little quieter for about a week. There will be some content hopefully posted just in text format. But a lot of content coming in about a week, because it’s all going to be queued up waiting on my phone where I’ll be recording on a daily basis. So, look forward to those.

God bless you all. God bless you in all that you try to do for God’s sake, for the Church’s sake. God bless your families. I ask for your prayers as I embark on this backpacking trip with my sons. We’re going to do about 60 miles in 4 to 5 days, so a lot of hiking in front of us. I ask for your prayers for the safe travel of my family because they will be meeting us at the cabin. And God willing (I won’t really see you tomorrow, but I’ll be posting tomorrow) and I’ll see you in about a week.

Video Diary: 14th Monday in Ordinary Time

A blessed 14th Monday in Ordinary time to you and your family. And also a blessed memorial of the Japanese Martyrs include St. Augustine Zhao Rong.

Today I’m going to talk about my first Mass assisting by myself. Last week’s Mass we had a special feast with both priests and all 3 new deacons. This Sunday it was just me and (by the way) the newly ordained priest who was just assigned to our parish. So it was kinda the new squad just up from “triple A” and now playing in the “majors. He has been ordained for a month so he’s a bit more veteran that I, but we’re both still pretty fresh.

A couple of mistakes right off the bat…

I was worried about this from the beginning, but the sleeves on our dalmatics and albs are so big and bulky. Particularly as men we’re not used to clothing with extra parts on it. So, sure enough, in the sacristy, my arm catches a ciborium full of hosts and sends them flying on the floor. They had to be thrown away. Thank God they were not consecrated so they could be thrown away as opposed to have to bury or consume them. So Mass hadn’t even started yet and I’m already blundering away.

My 2nd big mistake was, and it was kinda something I had heard what they had done with past deacons and hadn’t realized there had been a change… it used to be that the main chalice that the priest used that was they lone chalice filled by the deacon, was used for the entire congregation after it was used on the altar. There had been complaints that the deacons weren’t filling it all the way and so there wasn’t enough (precious) blood for the congregation from that chalice.

Well, apparently that had changed and now just the priest and deacon are taking from the celebrants chalice. All the additional chalices that have always been there are the ones used for the congregation. In any case, I took all of the wine and poured it in its entirety into this chalice not realizing that it was going to be for me and father. So he just took a little. Then because of a much smaller mistake on my part I ended up taking from another chalice and so we had this nearly full, I mean 3/4ths to the top, chalice of precious blood.

Then I kinda panicked (not as far as the congregation saw) because I didn’t know what to do, so I ended up having someone take it down to the congregation. Then it wasn’t brought back (to the altar) because of the way we do things at our parish they are cleaned afterwards in the sacristy, so the celebrants chalice didn’t make it back onto the altar because that one is usually cleaned (by the priest on the altar)… Oy!

There’s all these little details!

And it can’t be part of the training because it is specific to each parish. And then dominoes fall if you don’t get it right.

But I think I did learn, or I had learned in the past and it helped yesterday, that I knew to just roll with the punches. Take it peacefully. Not worry too much about it. Just make sure that perhaps after the fact the right things were done to make sure the chalice was properly purified and all of those sorts of things. Thus 99% of the congregation had no idea what was going on. It was just the few Eucharistic ministers, the priest and myself and our liturgy coordinator who were in the know.

Then afterwards we talked it over, we understood that in the future I just need to put enough wine in there for father and I. So these are all the little details that make… I don’t even think this is a new deacon thing, this is kinda a new to a parish or with a new priest kind of problem that of course when you’re serving as a new deacon is going to be the case. So I learned that one the hard way.

The other pieces, I could already feel it’s week 2, I’m remembering my lines better. I’m more comfortable. I know what to do. Even though I was doing all the parts of the Mass that the deacon does, unlike the prior week where it was spread out (between us 3 new deacons), I could just feel myself slowly getting more comfortable with that. I can imagine 3, 4, or 5 weeks from now, so much of this is going to be… 2nd nature is too strong… but easy to remember and not something I get stressed about. I think you just have to be patient with yourself and let it develop. See how it goes and not worry too much.

Again, love to keep these short. Tomorrow I’ll be talking about my spiritual director because my meeting with him is today. But I want to say:

God bless you! To all of you who made it to Mass yesterday I hope it was a blessed experience. Even with the little debacles it was a blessed experience for me. I will pray for you and for your families. Pray for me and my ministry. And God willing, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Video Diary: 13th Saturday in Ordinary Time

(Posting note: This was recorded on Saturday 7/7/18 but I didn’t find time to edit, transcribe and post until this morning, Monday 7/9/18)

A blessed 13th Saturday in Ordinary Time to you and your family. I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this is my 5th video as a newly ordained deacon. I was ordained 1 week ago today, on Saturday June 30th.

Apologies for missing yesterday. I went on a hike with my sons. We went to Mt. Diablo, just outside the Bay Area here in California. There was just no way I was going to squeeze it in. I’m making it up with an occasional Saturday post and I hope you enjoy want I’m about to say.

On tap for today is that Thursday was my daughter’s birthday, and since I’m kinda on this new blessings kick (and sure enough in here (the Book of Blessings) is the Order of Blessings on the Occasion of a Birthday)… and so I asked my daughter if she would like me to do it and she suggested that we do it at the party later in the afternoon. I was a little nervous about that. It was not a Catholic crowd. It was friends from her public school. Would that be too much imposing our faith on them? But I decided, “that’s what she wants, that’s what we’re going to do.”

I was SO glad that I did! The world is hungering for Christ. They really want Christ. They they really want the witness of Christ. We’re far too afraid to share that. We’re not imposing when we share our faith. I guess you could argue it is closer to imposing when we are talking politics and those sorts of things because we’re challenging them on their beliefs. But when we are just carrying out our faith, that is in no way imposing. That was so obvious at the party.

I sat her down. I started the blessing. I went through a brief reading as the rite calls for. I did the prayers associated to it. I did skip the litany and a couple of things that would have made it more than a couple of minutes, but it was a full 2 to 3 minutes that I did. Everyone was awed by that, to see a Father took the time to bless his daughter on her birthday… and I don’t think most of them knew I was newly ordained. It wasn’t a topic of conversation.

So we really should do more of that. For those of you who aren’t ordained, because the Book of Blessings is mostly (it does have some adjustments for lay people doing these blessings) oriented for clergy. There’s also a 2nd book that I’ve had for a while now, the Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, that is specifically designed for lay people. If you’re interested in perhaps doing more blessings and liturgical like prayers in your house, you might want to consider this one.

That’s my topic for this morning, mostly about the idea of being willing to be public with our faith; being willing to share our faith and love, but mostly in a way where we are giving our blessings to the world, not challenging people on their faith. Obviously there is a time for that. I’m a leader in RCIA, I know there’s a time to say, ‘This is what is true’ and all of that, but we need to be more discerning as to when to do that. Not much discernment is needed when we share our love, praise and blessings of God. People, everyone except the hardened atheists who know how much it hurts their cause for us to have our love for God in the world, except for that small group of people who generally speaking you don’t run into except online… most people are tickled pink to see people carrying out their faith. So let’s do it. Let’s do more of it. I think I’m personally going to do more of it. I think as a deacon I’m more obligated to be Christ’s feet and voice in the world. We all are, obviously, but I have a special obligation in a certain fashion to be willing to bless, to share the faith, to represent the Church in a somewhat formal sense, in the world. But doing that doesn’t mean being overly rigid about that.

In any case, I always want to keep these short. That’s my topic for this morning. God bless you all for watching. God bless you in your daily lives. Get out there and do things with your family. It was a joyous thing yesterday to be out on the trail with my sons. I encourage you to do the same. God is so prevalent in nature. His overwhelming love in the details of this creation he made, just gets to me every time. So get out there and do it, share the joy and love of your family in God’s creation. Share that love with each other. God bless you all. I will pray for you all. I will pray for your families. I ask for your prayers for my ministry in return.

And God willing, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Video Diary: 13th Thursday in Ordinary Time (or memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal)

A blessed 13th Thursday in Ordinary Time to you and your family. I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this is my 4th video as a newly ordained deacon. Today my topic is going to be about the Ordo. I had a little revelation this morning. For those of you who don’t know, as deacons we are obliged to pray Morning and Evening Prayer every day. That comes from our Liturgy of the Hours book. It’s a little bit of a complicated book. There are different sections. There’s the Psalter. There’s the Common of Saints. You have to use you ribbons to know which section you are going to be praying from. To figure out those things we have this book (the Ordo), that’s not just for that, (it also tells priests what prayers to use at Mass and all those sorts of things) and it tells you, what is today.

So if we were to open this guy up and look at July, 5th, which today is, we would find that actually today is the optionl memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria or St. Elizabeth of Portugal. Now Ordo’s are actually very specific. This one here is for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. And while there is lots of commonality between the Ordo for this region and other regions within the country they do vary slightly and then of course as you move to other countries they change even more.

What was on my mind today and why I decided it would be the topic of today, was I said “optional” memorial. There are different levels of feasts. There’s everything from a Solemnity to a major Feast, to a mandatory Memorial to an optional Memorial. Because the Liturgy of the Hours is somewhat complicated and more complicated when you have a higher level feast; there’s more ribbons you have to use and more sections you have to reference, there’s a great temptation on optional Memorials to just do the regular prayers. On a weekday during Ordinary Time, only requires one ribbon. I always use the gold ribbon for the Psalter which is the center-piece of the Liturgy of the Hours. Thus it is very tempting to want to do that.

And I thought to myself today, is that really the right mindset? Think of who someone has to have been in history as a saint. Not all saints get on the general calendar. There are probably approximately 100 or 150 of them like that through the whole year [point of clarification: that’s the number that are in the Ordo or general calendar]. It seem very unending. That’s something like 1 out of every 3 days or something like that. But think about that…

150 most holy people in the history of the Church.

How could we possibly say, “Oh, it’s optional, let’s not worry about them.” So I think I’m going to change a bit the way I do my morning and evening prayer. I’m going to do the optional memorials from now on. I didn’t this morning as I was praying my Morning Prayers or Lauds as it is sometimes called. However, this evening when I get to Vespers, I’m going to use the prayers associated to St. Elizabeth of Portugal. How could we not? How could we not honor those people?

Yes, there are lots of them, but that’s the beauty of our faith. There are thousands upon thousands. We should never let the quantity of them turn our hearts away from their holiness.

That’s my thought for this morning. A little bit of a learning for those of you who don’t know much about the Liturgy of the Hours and the Ordo. You will often see this in the sacristy and priests use it to know what they need to do for today’s Mass. And the of course Liturgy of the Hours, every clergy person is expected to pray these. Priests and bishops, they have 5 hours a day, or 5 times a day that they have to pray. They have to pray the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Mid-day Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer. And Deacons have to do the Morning and Evening Prayers. Maybe someday in the future I’ll go over more of the details of it.

But wanting to keep these short I’m just going to go with that today. Thank you all for your prayers for my grandmother. She seems to be getting better. Thank you for your prayers for me. I’m blessed to have this ministry. And I promise to pray for you, your families. And God willing, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Video Diary: 13th Wednesday in Ordinary Time

A blessed 13th Wednesday in Ordinary time to you and your family.  I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this is my 3rd video as a newly ordained deacon.  I was ordained 4 days ago on Saturday June 30th at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento, CA.  I encourage you to watch the first video in particular talking about my journey and my ordination and then also yesterday’s video.

Yesterday I found myself at the hospital for the 1st time as a deacon.  It turns out my grandmother had a somewhat minor heart attack and was taken to the hospital.  So I found myself at the hospital.  One of the things we did during formation was we did a number of different ministries that are common for deacons to do and so a couple of years ago we had done a year of visiting the sick, bringing communion to the sick and generally being supportive.  That was a very good ministry for me.  I was someone who was always terrified of the hospital.  I had been lucky enough that not a lot of my family members had been sick.   I didn’t have a lot of exposure there.  To actually get into the hospital; to get in to visiting with people was a great blessing and a period of great growth.  Thus actually yesterday I felt very comfortable at the hospital, which was a new thing for me, in the scope of my life anyway.

I ask you all to pray for my grandmother.  Her name is Dottie.  She herself is a fallen away Catholic.  She was raised Catholic; raised her children Catholic; but later in life turned away from the Church.  Pray for her health.  Pray for her faith.  Pray that God’s love and wisdom penetrate her heart.

In any case, when you’re on your way to the hospital, the first thing you do is you grab your ‘Book of Blessings’.  My brother who went with me (he’s out visiting from Massachusetts) was laughing that it was in the car when I went and picked him up.  (I said) “No, you’ve got to bring the tools of the trade with you.”  So, I brought it with me.  My very ornery grandmother, when I finally got to the right place to ask her if she would like a blessing… I figured what a great chance to give my first hospital blessing as a deacon, but she tells me, “I’m not sick!” and says that she doesn’t want a blessing.  That felt “great”, to have my first attempt at a (hospital) blessing shunned by grandma.

What I did actually is I let the conversation go and then I privately said the prayers of the blessing for her.  I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable by forcing it  (and I probably could have force the matter and got her to accept it).  But clearly she wasn’t all that receptive but I still wanted God’s blessings for her, so I chose to say the prayers privately and very quietly make the sign of the cross in a way that was somewhat subtle.  I think God’s blessing would be with her even if she’s not really appreciating what she’s saying no to.

That was the experience for yesterday.  Going to the hospital I think is going to be a lot like that throughout ministry.  It’s not going to be something (unless I get assigned to a ministry like that)  where I’m going to know yesterday that I’m going to be there today.  You’re going to be there on short notice, that there’s a parishioner or family member, but as a deacon I’ll be called to be there as often as I can.  I of course have to respect the needs of my family and providing for them and all those sorts of things.

It felt very much ‘getting into the ministry’ to go.  Obviously I would have gone anyway.  It’s my grandmother, I’m going to go visit her in the hospital.  There was something about that, that was just a step into ministry.  So that was yesterday’s little blessing, a surprise, but God’s grace is in so many things.

Again, I really want to keep these short.  I was actually unhappy with how long the first two were.  So I’m just going to give you that little anecdote today.  I’m going to say:

God bless you to all of you.  God bless you to your families.  Have a wonderful 4th of July.  May our country find it’s way back to the faith that founded it in the sense that we have laws that are just and fair, respect all people, care for all people, love the world, do our best to be a beacon of hope and truth for the world in a way that wants to them to share with us in our joys.  So let’s pray for our country this 4th of July.  Let’s pray for each other.  Pray for my grandmother.  Pray for me and my ministry.  And I promise I will pray for all of you who are watching and you families.

And God willing, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Video Diary: Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle

A blessed feast of St. Thomas the Apostle.  I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this is my 2nd day of my video journal as a newly ordained deacon.  I was ordained 3 days ago on Saturday, June 30th.  I encourage you to go look at yesterday’s video, my first day, talking about the ordination itself.  Today as promised I’m going to talk about my first time serving back at my home parish as a deacon and some the experiences around that.

One of the things that was very unique about our parish, was that we had 3 people in formation.  3 of us were ordained: Myself, Larry and Kevin.  Which is very, very rare.  In fact, this was already a big class, at 27 deacons.  That’s out of 100 or parishes.  Thus most parishes have none, and most of the candidates were the lone candidate from that parish.  I think there were 2 or 3 that had 2, but we were the only one with 3 and the only one I’ve ever heard of with 3.  It was a great joy because we went through the process together.  One of the consequences of that unfortunately was the bishop felt the need to assign one of us elsewhere to kinda spread the riches.

It is important to know that deacons do not serve a parish.  They serve the bishop and the diocese.  We don’t give fidelity to our pastor.  We give fidelity to the bishop.  So when he says, you need to be assigned somewhere else, we’re obliged to go.  Kevin with all humility has done exactly that and he has been a great example to us of how to do that.  It was always the joke that I was going to be the one to be assigned elsewhere.  I have some history at a parish, kinda the next parish over.  I was a parishioner there for many years.  But apparently the joke is not on me and Kevin had to take on that; a little bit more difficult role.  It’s much more comfortable to be at your home parish.

But for this one first mass, all 3 of us got to serve at our home parish.  Let me tell you, it was one busy altar.  We had the pastor, the parochial vicar, because this was a big celebration, the 3 of us, 8 altar servers, which was made up of our kids.  That was a lot of people on the altar.  The sign of peace was a mass of chaos.

We also had to split up the roles.  I did all the little parts.  I did the penitential rite pieces.  I did the prayers of the faithful and a couple other things like ‘go in peace’ and what have you.  Kevin did the homily and the proclaiming of the gospel.  Larry did the Eucharistic stuff around preparing the altar and pouring the wine and all of those pieces.  That was nice because we only had to focus on our little part.

For me, I wrote down all my lines on a card so I would be 100% confident.  Because you know it’s so different to actually do it than to hear it in the pew.  From the pew you say, “Oh yeah, I know this inside and out; I’ve heard it for years and years and years”.  It’s very different when you need to remember “contrite of heart” or “contrite in spirit” or what’s the exact word?  Thus I wanted to have a note card.  Then, as things go, the note card was in the wrong pocket.  My alb has one ‘pocket’ that goes through to my pants pocket and the other that is a seamed in pocket in the actual alb itself.  I had put this (the note card) in my pant pocket in the side that didn’t actually go through.  So I couldn’t even get to my note card and I had to do it all from memory.  It was a little bit of a comedy of errors.  I messed up little words here and there.

One of the things I was reminded of in that is that I think one of the graces of ordination is being able to make mistakes on the altar and not make it look like a catastrophe.  Priest and deacons are very good at that.  Mistakes happen all the time and they just act as if it is normal.  They just correct and move on.  That is something that I’m going to have to work on.  I don’t know that I did poorly in that regard, but I definitely didn’t have the grace of movement, for sure at the end, I was very slow on the last line, “The Mass is ended, go in peace.”  I was just not ready for that being my line.  We didn’t have our microphones on like we usually do because there were so many of us on the altar.  Thus I had to then run over to the ambo, proclaim that, and then run back.  That probably wasn’t the most graceful moment as well.  But I think over time it is something I will just need to grow into.  You do this week after week after week and becomes very comfortable and natural.  I should be kind with myself and know it takes time to get those things right.

I want to say a special thank you to our pastor, Fr. George who has been so supportive throughout the who process.  He bought us a couple albs.  He bought us a dalmatic.  He paid for our ordination dalmatic that we needed down at the diocese, at the cathedral.  He’s been wonderful throughout the whole process.  Every deacon candidate would be blessed to have someone like him as their pastor.  A big thank you to him.  That’s been so important to have a pastor who has supported us throughout the formation.  He also told us to take it slow at first; don’t jump right in; be patient with ourselves; learn the role as we go.

As I said I want to keep these short so I’m going to wrap it up there.  Tomorrow I’m going to talk a little bit more about a couple of aspects of formation.  We’ll be able go through a number of things in the days and weeks to come.

A blessed Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle to you.  May God bless you in all that you do.  Know that God’s love is always with you and He cares for you deeply.  I will pray for you.  I will pray for your families.  Thank you for tuning in.  A special welcome to those who came from ‘The Deacon Bench’, from Deacon Greg’s blog.  Welcome and I hope you enjoy these.  And God willing, I’ll see you all tomorrow.

Video Diary: 13th Monday in Ordinary Time

A blessed 13th Monday in Ordinary Time to you and your family.  My name is Deacon Ken Crawford and I’m a newly ordained deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento.  I was ordained 2 days ago at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on June 30th, 2018.  About a month before my ordination I decided that I really wanted to well document my first year as a deacon.  Like the first year of marriage I’m sure there is going to be so much that happens that is going to be formative in my ministry and I though it would be really good, both for myself and perhaps for others, to share that with all of you.  And so we begin that journey today.

My plan is to post every weekday, perhaps an occasional Saturday, for a full year, and then we’ll see where it goes after that.  Today my intent is to post about the ordination itself.  Then in the days and weeks to come, I’ll post more about myself, my journey that got me here and then other things that occur.

As we were about to be ordained and were standing outside on the steps of the cathedral, waiting to process in, one of my brother candidates said, “Gentlemen, we’re at the top of the rollerc oaster now!”  And it was so apt.  There was something about it that just resonated, not only then but in the moments to come.  We had worked so hard to reach this moment.  But at the same time, we knew we were just starting on this journey.  We had butterflies and unease and we weren’t sure where this was all headed, and walking down the isle into the church as part of the procession was like that first drop of the roller coaster.  It was both exciting and exhilarating and a bit terrifying.  You didn’t know what was going to come.  You didn’t know if you were going to be able to take it.  But you were excited nevertheless.  I think that’s how we all felt on Saturday.

One moment that really stood out to me was when I promised my fidelity to the bishop.  I had already done that in writing, they have us sign an form.  It was done in either March or May, somewhere in the spring.  So I didn’t think that doing it again in person would be that big of a deal.  But just like my own wedding, where I promised to love and care for my wife for the rest of our lives, the same was true of actually standing before the bishop and promising my fidelity.  For the 2nd time in my live I stood in a church and promised to serve someone for the rest of my life.  That was a meaningful and important moment for me.  It really affected me deeply.

A 2nd more humorous thing is I didn’t realize how hard it was to shove the Holy Spirit into someone.  When Bishop Soto laid his hands on me I expected something gentle.  Yet he was really shoving down.  At first I thought, am I kneeling to tall?  Does he want me to be lower?  …all the other guys said the same thing, that he pushed really hard.  So one can only assume that the Holy Spirit doesn’t go in easy and you really have to push.  … that was I humorous moment, but I don’t know, maybe there’s something there.

And finally, I was reminded of something that perhaps I had a little bit forgotten.  You should never assume how God’s grace will feel.  You know I’ve had those moments in my life where God’s love just washed over me and it was filling and emotional and tears and all of that.  I was expecting that sort of grace filled moment.  But that didn’t really come for me.  There were moments of strong humility, but nothing of that variety.  Yet at the same time I left the ceremony a different man.  As an analogy it was like I was the Eucharist.  I wasn’t bread anymore.  Yet I still looked like me.  I still felt like me.  Perhaps I still tasted like me as well (I don’t often taste myself).  But inside I was transformed.  The church word they would use is that I was ontologically changed; that my very being was different.  That was just so true; it was profoundly true.  I could see it in everything.  The moment it was most clear to me was when I got home that evening, (because there was the ordination and then there was my reception and then I stopped by a friend’s reception) and I was exhausted.  It was the kind of exhaustion that in the past when I got home in the past I wouldn’t do my evening prayers.  During formation they ask you to do and after you are ordained you are obliged to do, morning and evening prayers.

Instead I was transformed.  It was my nature now to pray for the Church.  There was no hesitation; no thought that I’ll not do it.  I could just feel how I had been transformed into a person who’s purpose was to serve the Church and that included praying for the Church.  Thus I just sat down and prayed my evening office without any though of ‘I’m exhausted’ or anything like that.  It’s been true both of the last two evening (as yesterday was also a very busy and chaotic day).  I have been transformed and it is overwhelming.  I’m so very thankful for the gifts of God that have brought me here, that transformed me during the ordination.  I really hope that I can share more of that in the weeks to come.

I’d like to keep these relatively short so I’m going to end it right there.  Tomorrow I’ll talk about (which is still yesterday, so I’ll still be 2 days behind) but my first Mass serving as a deacon serving at my home parish.

God bless you all.  May God’s blessings be with you in ALL that you do.  And God willing, I’ll see you tomorrow.