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.