“Servants of Christ and Stewards of the Mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1)


Please know that you are all invited to the ordination of John David Matherne, Jean-Marie Nsambu, and Samuel Brice Higginbotham (me) to the Sacred Order of Deacon this Saturday at 10am at the Cathedral of St. Francis de Sales in Houma, LA.

Whether or not you can join us for the ordination itself, please keep us in prayer in this last week of preparation to receive this great Sacrament and to give ourselves more completely to Jesus, especially in the solemn promises of celibacy, obedience, and prayer  and, with the help of God, shaping our lives always according to the example of Christ whose Body and Blood we will give to the people (Rite of Ordination of Deacons).

A version of this article will be published in the May 17 edition of the Church Point News.

 

Jesus has ascended, the Holy Spirit has come, and the Church is growing. St. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preaches to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem. “They were cut to the heart,” the Bible says, and they want to become Christians. “Repent and be baptized,” says Peter, “and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Three thousand souls receive his word and are Baptized that day (Acts 2:14-42).
With so many new Christians, Peter and the other apostles are overwhelmed and overworked. They must not let their care for temporal matters—as important as that is—to consume them. Of first importance is their relationship with God (prayer) and their preaching of His word so that, like on the day of Pentecost, more and more people can be saved by faith and Baptism. Calling together “the body of disciples” they say, “Brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:2-3). The apostles ordained these men to be deacons by prayer and the laying on of hands. “They prayed and laid their hands upon them” (Acts 6:6). These men are ordained to be servants for the Christian community. The very Greek word for deacon (diakonos/διακονος) means servant. Some deacons serve by focusing on the poor. Stephen, the first of the seven deacons, serves by preaching the word of God. He is killed for his preaching of the truth, becoming the first Christian martyr (Acts 6:8-7:60). Philip serves by preaching and evangelizing and Baptizing (Acts 8:4-40).

Vasari-martyrdom-of-st-stephen

Finally, St. Paul has this to say about deacons. “Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons [diakonoi/διακονοι]” (1 Timothy 3:8-10).

 

Today, we have two men fromChurch Point who will be ordained deacons within the month.
With God’s grace and continued perseverance, I (along with John David Matherne and Jean-Marie Nsambu) will be ordained a “transitional” deacon at 10am on Saturday, May 21 at the Cathedral of St. Francis de Sales in Houma, Louisiana and Mr. Doug Wimberly (along with several other men) will be ordained a “permanent” deacon at 10am on Saturday, June 4 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette, Louisiana. On the weekend of the 21st and 22nd, I will serve all of the weekend Masses at St. Thomas Aquinas in Thibodaux for the Solemnity of the Most HEveryone is invited to both of those celebrations! oly Trinity and I will also be returning to Church Point on Sunday, May 29, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, to serve all three of the Masses. After the 10am Mass, there will be a reception. There will also be a reception for Deacon Doug Wimberly on Sunday, June 5, also following the 10am Mass. Again, each of you is invited!

Cathedral of St. Francis de Sales

Soon-to-be-Deacon Doug will, with God’s grace and holy perseverance, live the rest of his life serving the Church as a deacon; this is what it means when we say “permanent” deacon. I on the other hand intend to be ordained a priest on June 3 of 2017 (begging, of course, God’s continued grace and hoping for my own continued cooperation therewith). I, of course, will continue to be a servant leader in the Church after the example of Jesus Christ himself. “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). However, I will then do so as a priest; that’s what it means to say that I will be a “transitional” deacon. There are not different kinds of deacons. We are both to be servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. The words “permanent,” and “transitional” are merely used to designate whether or not the bishop intends to ordain us priests in the near future.

 

We have both spent years in preparation and prayerful discernment to receive this gift of God which is Holy Orders, a gift which will be passed on to us through prayer and the laying on of hands by the bishop, a successor to the Apostles themselves (see again Acts 6:6). Being ordained in essentially the same way that the first deacons were, we depend upon God’s grace to truly be servants [diakonoi] of God and of you, His people. We hope to prove full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, to be men serious about bringing Jesus Christ to the whole world who hold firmly to the Faith which has been given to us by Jesus Himself and passed down through the ages in the Church He established (Matthew 16:18; 1 Timothy 3:15). Please keep us in your prayers as we approach this Sacrament of Holy Orders and begin to live our lives as deacons in service to our Good Lord!