Sunday 22 January 2017

The Deacon Reader - James Keating Editor

The Deacon Reader
James Keating
Paulist Press
ISBN 9780809143894

In starting to read about the permanent diaconate I could not think about a better book to begin with. This collection of essays edited by James Keating does an amazing job of giving a historical background, the factors that lead to reinstating this ministry, a general overview, and some personal reflections on this ministry. To be honest while reading this book I stopped a few times and wrote down extensive notes, and started looking for other books mentioned.

The sections in this book are:

PART ONE Historical and Theological Foundations for Diaconal Identity
1. The History of the Diaconate
2. The Contemporary Renewal of the Diaconate
3. The Deacon and Gaudium et Spes
4. The Diaconate as Medius Ordo: Service in Promotion of Lay Participation
5. The Deacon: Icon of the Sign of Hope
6. The Moral Life of the Deacon

PART TWO Pastoral Foundations for Diaconal Identity
7. Theological Education and the Diaconate
8. Father and Shepherd
9. The Deacon and Personal Prayer
10. The Deacon and Work
11. The Sacramental Ministry of the Deacon in Parish Life

PART THREE Sociological Foundations for Diaconal Identity and Marriage
12. The Diaconate and Marriage: A Sociological Reflection
13. The Deacon's Wife: An Emerging Role

Epilogue: The Kenotic Leadership of Deacons
Select Theological Bibliography

And the contributors are:
Thomas Baker
Charles A. Bobertz
Owen F. Cummings
William T. Ditewig
Edward J. Enright
James Keating
Gerald F. Kicanas
Mark A. Latcovich
William S. McKnight
Paul McPartlan
Rebecca Meehan
Ray R. Noll
Michael Ross

I fist looked at the Diaconate almost twenty five years ago. And I wish there had been a book like this at that time. This book has a strong focus on the history and theology of the deacon. The greatest strength of this book is the diverse voices. Hearing from so many men who are deacons or in involved with the ministry and formation of deacons. They bring years of practical knowledge to their respective chapters in this book.

From my first reading of this book, one of the most powerful chapters was chapter 2, The Contemporary Renewal of the Diaconate, by  Deacon William T. Ditewig. This chapter focus on the modern renewal up to and including Vatican II. Deacon William states: "At least four streams of influence converged at the council: (1) the German experience prior to the Second World War, (2) the Dachau experience and postwar developments centered in Germany and France, (3) pastoral developments related to the missio ad gentes and catechetics, and (4) significant papal teachings. I reread this chapter through a few times, and am trying to track down one of the books that it mentions that was last published in 1965. This books is worth the price for this chapter alone.

I also loved the chapters in the second section. The focus on The pastoral foundation of the identity of the deacon. The focus on the theological education and its importance to the deacon's formation and life. The deacon and work, and the ministry of being ordained and yet working in the world. The deacon's prayer life. And the Sacramental ministry of the deacon. I am sure I will end up reading books on each of these topics but the overviews given in the essays in this chapter. A great quote from this section is "Most diaconate formation focuses on the deacon's "church" identity: theology, sacramental ministry, preaching, and pastoral endeavors. This is all to the good, but as a result few deacons have had much chance to reflect on how their diaconate might find expression in their work, and how their work experiences can enrich the church. This chapter offers a few beginning reflections on this topic, along with some thoughts that might help stimulate thinking about some new future directions." And really leads on to ponder, reflect and pray. And looking at life in work "A second challenge for deacons as working people is to serve as a model of people who do not build walls between their lives as workers on the one hand and their lives as Christians on the other. Erecting those walls is a tempting proposition, because being a Christian person in a workplace is not a task that comes without problems. The fact is, Christian values and business values, while not completely incompatible, are not identical, and no one in business can lose sight of it." Yes all Catholics all Christians are called to model their faith at work. But with deacons there will end up being an even greater expectation.

The chapter on the deacons wife was also an eye opener. If a deacon, can end up being caught between two worlds, or bridging two words, the deacons wife will experience that but with an extra layer.

I have found that by reading this book I am not only thinking about my future but praying for the deacons that I know. Praying for their ministry, their families and they witness.  This was an excellent read. I would recommend this book to those who are considering the ministry of being a deacon. But it would also be great for committed Catholics who want to understand this ministry in their church and maybe learn how to support these men in a new way.

A great read and I look forward to reading more from some of the contributors over the next few months. Overall I would rate this as an excellent read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by James Keating:
The Deacon Reader 
Spousal Prayer: A Way to Marital Happiness 
Listening for Truth: Praying Our Way to Virtue 
The Heart of the Diaconate
Pure Heart, Clear Conscience: Living a Catholic Moral Life 
A Deacon's Retreat 
Crossing the Desert: Lent and Conversion 
Spirituality and Moral Theology: Essays from a Pastoral Perspective 
Seminary Theology: Teaching in a Contemplative Way  
Seminary Theology II: Theology and Spiritual Direction in Dialogue
Seminary Theology III: Seminary Formation and Psychology  
The Way of Mystery: The Eucharist and Moral Living
Conscience and Prayer: The Spirit of Catholic Moral Theology  
Resting on the Heart of Christ 
Spiritual Fathers: A Workbook for Priests and Dads 
Entering Into the Mind of Christ: The True Nature of Theology 
Communion with Christ: Practical Prayer
The Character of the Deacon: Spiritual and Pastoral Foundations  
The Priest as Beloved Son 
Moral Formation in the Parish: With Your Whole Heart Turn to God
Christ as the Foundation of Seminary Formation

No comments: