One of the commitments taken on by a deacon at the time of ordination is ‘you are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world.’
Interpret is a word with many meanings depending on the context in which it is being used. Today in the 21st century, maybe we can use the word communicate as well as interpret. We need to understand the concerns, hopes and needs of the world before we can communicate these to the Church (the congregations in our parishes and Diocese).
Before Covid we could communicate in person, but this has not been possible during the pandemic. Modern technology has come to the forefront to help with communication: e-mails, Skype, Zoom, Facetime, instant access to those who have the technology. But this is not always the case. There are congregants that do not have access or are unable to use this technology, so some of the ‘old fashioned ways’ of writing letters or telephoning can be welcome forms of communication.
Whichever way works we still need to bring the concerns of people forward so that action can be taken. Covid times have made these actions harder to fulfill. Prayer circles and discussion groups are active ways in which we can communicate, as well as telephone chains to help keep the congregants in the communication loop. We need to let the housebound know they are not forgotten, although they may not be seen.
With all the good communication we have with modern technology, we also have to contend with ‘miscommunication’ of which there seems to be an abundance. One example of this was sent to me recently;
“A man spoke frantically into the phone: ‘My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart.’ ‘Is this her first child?’ the doctor asked. ‘No!’ the man shouted, ‘This is her husband!’”
Of course we have heard all the ‘anti-vaxxers’ decrying the use of vaccines, although it has been proved that by being vaccinated we will get out of this pandemic. Is this part of a selfish reaction? Or are they just going against authority who are trying to protect the population? At the moment the infection rate for fully vaccinated people is less than 1%.
One of the important roles we have as a deacon is to give unbiased advice to help people make good decisions. It is our responsibility as Christians to communicate the love of God, and to help our neighbors in these difficult times. As in the words, attributed to St. Francis, “preach the gospel and use words if you have too.” Or in the words of the old adage, ‘actions speak louder than words.’