Ruminations from Deacon Hank Lyon

Garden for God

Throughout the day, here at Mundelein, it is not uncommon to see some of the brothers out walking the campus grounds. We are blessed to be surrounded by a forest and have a beautiful lake right at the heart of the campus.

Over the summer, the grounds crew finished a landscaping project that was inspired by one of our benefactors. One of the little quads had already a Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, complete with an altar and outdoor seating. It had already a walk-around Stations of the Cross and a statue of St. Pius X, but now the whole area was transformed by additional plants, trees (some were added to the grotto to provide shade for the benches), flowers and a new walk way connecting each monument.

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Silent Retreats

At the beginning of every academic year up at the seminary, we begin with a silent retreat. It allows us time to reflect on the ministries we were assigned to over the summer. Some of the brothers were off in other countries like Guatemala and Poland to study the language. Others worked in hospitals as chaplains in and around the city. The week of silence is spent mostly in prayer with a retreat director giving talks. In our prayer we thank God for sending us out, like Jesus sent out the 72 disciples, and we also go over with the Lord all the significant moments, encounters and people we met throughout the summer. We pray with these memories and often the Lord points out particular details for us to learn from or to treasure.

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Fun Always Follows Joy

Fun does not stop when you are living life by Jesus's commands, in fact it increases. Our Lord even says to the Twelve that He came so that our joy may be complete (Jn 15:11). This past weekend, here at the seminary, we had our big Welcome Event. It is a day of fun, fraternity and food for all the seminarians, organized by the Fourth-Year Theologians, a.k.a., my class.

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The Kingdom of God

Marvel caught my eye again with their epic hero movie, Black Panther. I was especially gripped by the awesome kingdom of Wakanda. This very technologically advanced kingdom is embedded in the luscious jungles of Sub-Saharan Africa. How did such a combination of technology and natural beauty come to be? Way back in its history, a meteorite of unknown origin struck the kingdom. Within the space rock the inhabitants discovered a highly advanced metal which they called, virbranium. It has the ability to absorb, store and release large amounts of kinetic energy. The suit Black Panther wears is made of vibranium, and interestingly enough is the same material Captain America's shield is made from.

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Sacramental Grace

Continuing on the topic of grace, let's first consider sacramental grace. These graces flow from each of the seven sacraments respectively. Each sacrament is a font for a particular grace, which we refer to as sacramental. Sacraments are sensible signs instituted by our Lord Jesus; they symbolize and confer grace.

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Redemption Won By Death

Among the heroes we see on the big screen, Captain America holds a privileged place. He's the hero of the most memorable war, World War II. He came from an Irish family but lost both of his parents at a young age. He wanted to join the army at the outbreak of war but was denied because of his frail stature. Yet, what caught the eye of the head of an experimental serum, Dr. Reinstein, was the tremendous virtue of Steve Roger's heart.

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On the Topic of Grace

On the topic of grace, Mother Church has written many things to say about God's grace, from the great saints, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Teresa of Avila to the councils of the Church Fathers. In the seminary, we take a course that includes a section on grace. It is a very fascinating topic, one that could be pondered for a lifetime. Yet, we should not let any daunting topic, such as grace, just by its sheer magnitude, be a reason for us not to ask the questions and seek the answer to, "what is grace?"

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Jesus Christ, My Super Hero

It is fascinating to watch these superhero movies. They depict heroes that take on a greater power than they themselves possess. Take Iron Man for example, Tony Stark is an immensely successful businessman, all around cool guy and an ingenious scientist. Tony Stark we might say is the pinnacle of achievement, who wouldn't want to be Tony Stark? Yet, when it comes to saving the world, his success is not enough. Tony Stark becomes Iron Man, because of a tragic incident that nearly took his life. After surviving it, he goes on to become this new hero.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?  

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