“As one set aside in a special way for the service of the altar, the acolyte should learn all matters concerning public divine worship and strive to grasp their inner spiritual meaning: in that way he will be able each day to offer himself entirely to God, be an example to all by his gravity and reverence in church, and have a sincere love for the Mystical Body of Christ, the people of God, especially for the weak and the sick.” (Apostolic Letter, Institution of Readers and Acolytes, Pope Paul VI, 6).
I have walked the journey alongside him,we are in this together, yet ultimately the journey is his.
I have been his support, I have witnessed his growth. I alongside of many other wives and family members have given up much to encourage our husbands on this path.
We could say that this journey began four, almost five years ago when our pastor asked him to consider Formation to the Permanent Diaconate. With our oldest off to college and our youngest well on his way we were looking forward to new adventures to be had and much open time to spend together. We did not anticipate this door opening, and it was with apprehension that we walked through. What were we getting in to? What did this all mean? How much time was it going to take?
After a year of Inquiry, a year of Aspirancy, and two additional years of Formation, he is now an Acolyte. Not yet ordained to the Permanent Diaconate, an Acolyte, according to Canon 230 §1 is: a Lay man whose age and talents meet the requirements prescribed by decree of the bishops’ conference; given the stable ministry of lector and of acolyte, through the prescribed liturgical rite; a ministry to which a person is specially appointed by the Church to assist the deacon and to minister to the priest. His duty is to attend to the service of the altar and to assist as needed in the celebration of the Mass. He may also distribute Holy Communion as an auxiliary minister at the Eucharistic liturgy and to the sick. An acolyte may be entrusted with publicly exposing the Blessed Sacrament for adoration but not with giving benediction. He may also, to the extent needed, take care of instructing other faithful who by appointment assist the priest or deacon by carrying the missal, cross, candles, and similar functions.
We look back and we know this journey did not begin when he entered Formation, rather it began at his Baptism, and continued through his growing up years–Catholic school, Altar Serving, continual reception of the sacraments–all of which formed a strong foundation for him to continue to grow. Together in marriage we became One, and life events have led us both towards a deeper faith.
Our time together is different than we imagined it would be just a few years ago. He spends many hours reading, studying, going to class, writing papers, and serving. But while it is different, it feels right. Our time is limited, but our focus has changed.
What may look like a celebration of completion is, in fact, a new beginning, one more step towards a deeper whole. If God wills it and he is ordained in two years, that too will be another beginning towards a continued lifetime of service, one in which he is already well grounded.
We have no clear view of where his path, and ours together, will go, but walking together, we will enjoy all that comes, and the time that we are given.