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.