It is crazy to think about, but exactly one month from yesterday, I will have been ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Erie. The last almost seven years of seminary formation has brought me to this day, where I can take that next step toward ordination to the Sacred Priesthood.
For my classmate Ian and myself, this is a major step. We will become clerics in the church, ordained for a specific ministry for a specific diocese. We will make an even more public promise to be faithful to God and to His Church.
This past Saturday, I recieved a very important document from my Bishop; it is my call to orders. This document is a public declaration of his acceptance of my request to be ordained to the Diaconate. This is significant to me for several reasons, one of them being that I am now permitted to publicly invite people to the ordination ceremony. I can now say that this event in my life is going to happen!
For those of you who have journeyed with me these past seven years will know very well that each year had its ups and downs. You also know how much I have grown and journeyed with Christ. This experience has been difficult, but with its difficulties, there have been many opportunities to learn. I am grateful for your presence in these past seven years, and I pray that you continue to journey with me for the next seven-plus years.
One month from yesterday, I will no longer be just Mister Andrew Michael Boyd, I will become Reverend Mister. This might seem all like too much pomp and circumstance, but this little fact is important. What do I mean by this? Well let’s look at some basic theology.
What is a sacrament?
We know from our studies (and from the Baltimore Catechism as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1131) that a sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. Why is the name change for an ordained man important? For this reason: it is a sign that we can display outside of the man showing, we pray, that inward change. Some may be offended that I am making a big deal over this, but I believe that in our world, we need these signs of God. In no way am I claiming that by my ordination that I will be any better or any holier than anyone else. What I am saying is that, by God’s Grace, instilled in me by the reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, I may be a sign to the People of God of His Love and continual care. I pray that I, and my classmate, may be a sign to the world that the Church is still here, and God is still Her guide. I pray that I might be able to show the world that Jesus Christ is risen, and that He still is here with us today.
Yet this ordination is not just about me. Yes, my classmate and I will be the recipients of this sacrament, but so will the Church. The Diocese of Erie will gain two new deacons who will continue with formation with the intent to be ordained to the Holy Priesthood. This ordination is not the end, but rather just the beginning of a new life.
In my deacon prep class, we were going over the ritual for funerals. One of the preface prayers is apropos for this situation too: “For your faithful people, Lord, life has changed, not ended.” Now, you may say that I am being rather…morbid…when I liken my ordination to a funeral. Yet there is some truth behind this. No, I am not physically dying, but I am spiritually dying. I am dying to my wants and my aspirations; I am dying to what the world tells me that I deserve; I am promising obedience to my bishop in a new and special way; I am dying to self so as to be a “eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 19:12). My life will change, not end. I take on a new role, changing my life from one of laity to one of service for the Church.
Some might say that my life has ended, but I would disagree. It is true that I will not be able to marry or have my own biological family, but this does not account for the spiritual family that God will place in my life. Yes, I will not be able to have a “rich” and “successful” career that society tells us that we all need to have, but this does not account for the rich reward that I will recieve beyond what possessions can provide. Yes, I will live a life contrary to society which could (and most likely will) bring hatred and contempt against me for living a life for what I believe and know to be the truth.
All of these things are true and possible to happen. Yet this will not stop me. God has made an impact in my life, and I will continue to follow His call wherever it may lead me. By God’s Grace and Blessing, this call has led me thus far in seminary formation. At numerous opportunities, I could have been called to another way of life – either in marriage or the single life, and also to a career in the secular world, yet God has kept me here. I continue to follow His call wherever it may lead me.
And so, it has led me to this: Transitional Diaconate Ordination, the next step toward Holy Priesthood. It has been an amazing journey thus far, and there is still more to come. So come along with me, and take that next step of faith toward following Him.
For those of you without Facebook, and even those of you with Facebook, I have put together a page here on my website outlining my ordination and all of the festivities occurring on that day. For more information, click here. I will continue to update that page as well as the Facebook event with any changes.