I just finished perusing my diaconate ordination pictures. At first glance, my thought was: Who is that guy? I mean, of course, I knew it was me, but I felt like I had pulled off one of the best Halloween costumes of all time.
That wasn’t really me, was it? Did that really happen? I’m a deacon!
As I looked more intently at those pictures, my shock turned to awe, and that awe was seeping into every movement of the ordination liturgy. Now I’m not talking about a “Boy oh boy! Those deacon stoles are cool!”-type awe. I’m talking about the “Did the world stop?/You could hear a pin drop!” -type awe. I could see it in my face, my brother deacons’ faces, and in the family and friends in the pews.
Since I hit the marble floor a month ago, I have been reminded every day of that awe. 5 things in particular come to mind that consume me with gratitude:
Not through the Sacrament of Marriage, obviously, but through the Sacrament of Holy Orders I made irrevocable promises to my spouse, the Church. She is the one I have fallen in love with, and the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. Although my role as her spouse will culminate in the priesthood, that day I chose to give up everything to stand by her side forever. I’ve never seen a more beautiful bride.
Literally. Everyone in that Cathedral was the Eucharist in action. In every handshake, hug, and high-five the Eucharist was alive and offered to every faithful heart during that liturgy. This is what Jesus had in mind when He gave His Body and Blood to us… We’re not meant to stay at the table forever. We receive Him, bring Him, and LIVE Him. He was visible in every moment that day. What a sight to see!
In fact, I have never felt more joyful. Of course there will be rough days ahead – maybe rough weeks, months, or even years. But having entered into ordination knowing I am forever in a unique relationship with my Lord – finally becoming who I desire to be for Him (and cherishing that He desires it for me, too!) – That’s a life worth getting out of bed for each morning.
In the moment I laid prostrate in the sanctuary of the Cathedral, I died. I was utterly helpless and vulnerable… but I was free. Totally unattached and open. That action of complete submission was the most intimate feeling I had ever experienced. I was free, but I was taken. I died, but I was alive more than ever before. I pray that the rest of my life as His servant would start and end with my heart on that floor, giving Him everything, so He can give all of Himself to me.
On a very personal note, there were days during seminary formation that I wondered if I would be looked after in this vocation. Of course, none of us pursue ordination for job security; but as with all vocations, there may come a time when we question where God is. I feared the loneliness. But I trusted… and Jesus answered. “I see you” were the words He spoke to my heart when I stood before the altar. They are the words I remember every single day. Now I take every step with the assurance that I am accounted for. And I know Jesus has sent me to bring that same love and security to the people of the world. What an honor to be His eyes.
The real beauty of my vocation can’t be found in the pictures. Sure, in those moments I saw in myself for the first time the manifestation of what was happening in my heart during seminary formation. For the first time, I could see the quiet work of the Trinity awakening something new, something life-changing, something eternal… and I remember quite well that it knocked the wind out of me.
But the true beauty of ordination has been in every breath since. He lives in me like He never has before. I see Him more than I ever have before – in the faces of every person I encounter.
Thank you, Jesus. I see you, too.
Meet the Author:
Deacon Jim Cosgrove was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where he will, God-willing, be ordained to the priesthood in May 2017. Coming from a rambunctious, Irish family, he’s always up for an adventure and a good laugh! If you ever need to get his attention, just say “pizza.” @jmtcosgrove
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