Ruminations from Deacon Hank Lyon

Prayer for Purification

What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity

This secret prayer is prayed while purifying the sacred vessels: chalices and ciboria. It is prayed by the priests, deacons, acolyte (shout out to Tom Dombai) or an extraordinary minister of communion.


Love and Chastity

We have come to the last pairing of theological virtues with evangelical counsels. Our last coupling is love and chastity. In this exploration our aim has been to understand with greater clarity the evangelical counsels that the Church has practiced for centuries, knowing that the simple practice of these counsels opens our lives and our prayer life to participate even more in the inner Life of God.


Becoming a Deacon

The day of D iaconate ordination is huge in the life of a seminarian. It is a major step in saying “yes” to Christ. For one, it is the first time we physically lay down our lives and make seven promises to the bishop.

There were many memorable moments. The one that I want to reflect on is the moment when we receive the Book of the Gospels.

After the laying on of hands, thus receiving from the Holy Spirit the office of Diaconate, and being vested in the vestments of a Deacon, the stole and the Dalmatic (which is a shorter robe with sleeves that is worn over everything else), one by one my brother deacons and I knelt before the Cardinal for a third time. This was the moment when we received the tool for our labor, the Book of the Gospels.


Evangelical Counsels


Returning to our topic of pairing theological virtues with the three evangelical counsels, I want to first say more about the term "evangelical counsels.”

These counsels of obedience, poverty, and chastity are guides to imitating Christ and are described as being evangelical. The use of this term is not to be confused with the Evangelical church. The original meaning has always been connected with the work of evangelization, coming from the Greek word, euangelizesthai, which means to bring the good news. During the time of the Roman Empire, this term carried the connotation that whatever the good news was it meant that Rome was being strengthened and had achieved something.

The pairing of poverty with hope should direct our minds to recognize our own poverty compared to God. We are always in need of such things like, material necessities, peace, rest, happiness, forgiveness, help, guidance, etc. There is an inclination in our material oriented society to label "being in need" as always a negative. It is better to be independent, and this is the guarantee for reaching fulfillment. But if this is the case, then there is no point in having a relationship with God. Now here is the hope, we have a loving heavenly Father who so desires to provide for us. Consider chapter six in the book of Matthew, Jesus outright says it is the Father's desire to care for our every need.

In our relationship with God, it is good to share with Him what we are in need of. Let Him know what is lacking in your life. We can pray for these things, but there is also a deeper trust when we simply place our needs before God, and like a trusting child, we rest in the hope that God will provide according to what is best for our sanctification.

This aspect of our faith is counter-cultural, because with the gift of Hope we do not have to worry when we are in need. Hope bears witness to Our Lord's Resurrection and Ascension, that He reigns in heaven with all authority, seated at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us. Thus, poverty coupled with hope is evangelical; it shares the good news. And this is the good news, our souls and minds are being strengthened by Christ, who, by His grace, is sanctifying us.


Whoever sees me has seen the Father

In a previous issue I talked about a spiritual relationship between obedience, poverty, and chastity, and faith, hope, and love.  

In this issue I want to say more on this pairing, to provide food for fruitful meditation throughout the week. This might sound like a broken record, but actually it's the heart of the matter; it's the firm foundation, Jesus Christ revealed to us what it means to be human, and that is to love. Our Blessed Lord taught the teaching of Torah, treat one another as you want to be treated. The greatest way we can treat people and ourselves is with love. Good, but what about our relationship with God?  


May Our Sins Be Wiped Away

“Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away.”

This is another secret prayer of the deacon. The term, "secret prayer,” refers to how the prayer is said quietly, as if it was hidden; it does not mean no one else can know them apart from the deacon. 

The beauty of the secret prayers is that they add a dimension of mystery to the liturgy. The liturgy is the foretaste of heaven. A lot of the symbolism found in the Mass is found in the Book of Revelations. Heaven, in a very short explanation, is unveiled intimacy with the Trinity. As St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul remind us, we will see Him face-to-face. 


Just a Drop of Holy Water

You see at Mass the deacon pouring the wine into all of the chalices. At one point, the deacon pours a drop of water into the priest’s chalice. As he does this, the deacon prays silently these words: 
"By the mingling of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity."

The prayer over the preparation of the chalice anticipates what is to be received when we come to Mass, the divine life of Christ as it is spoken to us and given to us as spiritual food. The last portion of the prayer touches upon one of the greatest teachings from the early Church Fathers, known as the Marvelous Exchange. Jesus became Man, so that we may participate in His Divinity. The early church Fathers used the term, divinization, to articulate the mystery of how God pours His life into our souls.