My Diaconate journey part 6
in a Breviary Spin ……
Most of us will have experienced the start of a new phase of life. Your first day at high school, first date with a future spouse, day 1 at that new job, well the list goes on. The feelings that churn inside rarely change no matter how old you are or what stage of life you are at. You worry about the most insignificant of things: what shall I wear, who will I talk to, what will I say.
And so with a whole washing machine of a stomach of feelings I entered the Diaconate programme for proper at St Joseph’s Penketh Warrington, precisely 4 weeks to the day since my ill fated previous attempt failed in despair.
There was the formation team made up of established Deacons, The director of the Diaconate Monsignor Austin, other various volunteers who supported the programme and other Deacons in training. Familiar faces were few and far between. My friend Joe who had like me completed the enquiry year was there, another “newbie” Steve from Wrexham was joining us from Shrewsbury diocese, then there was an amalgamation of some Deacons newly ordained a couple of months earlier, and some yet to be ordained 2 years ahead of us.
It was a friendly atmosphere as we stood around chatting before a very efficient looking lady took me and Joe to one side and presented us with a huge box full of books. It was an amazing treasure trove of publications aimed at arming us for the battles ahead! One particular book was singled out to us. “You will need that for morning prayer “ she announced. No sooner had she made this pronouncement, we were called into the room next door for the aforementioned prayer ritual.
It was a completely bewildering few minutes. This book, often referred to as the “office” or “breviary”, soon became the focus of my next stage of agitation. A complex series of prayers. Those around me flicked deftly backwards and forwards, without the slightest pause. Some stood and sat according to a predetermined ritual, and without exception all followed this flow with the ease of an Olympic canoeist effortlessly negotiating the rapids. After a seemingly endless combination of prayer, hymn and final blessing, my first morning prayer, from the breviary ended. Joe and me must have looked Ill. Others smiled at us knowingly. “Don’t worry you will pick it up in no time” was the general gist of the post prayer conversation as we were fed a comforting cup of tea and rich tea biscuit.
The rest of the day went by in a blur, punctuated by mass at lunchtime which clearly played a key role in the trading process as other more experienced trainee Deacons contributed with readings and homily. Newly ordained Deacons somewhat nervously exercised their fledgling ministry and the rest of us took our place in the congregation.
The day continued after lunch with guests contributing to sessions before the Breviary made another ominous appearance for evening prayer to close the day.
My drive home was filled with a bewildering mix of emotions. It had been challenging, exciting, worrying, and eye opening.
How on earth I would ever get used to the Breviary was beyond me. I was not alone however. As I struggled my way with the daily prayer over the coming months, many others confided that they too had struggled. In fact it was only when I saw Priest using his IPad that I was introduced to an electronic version which was revolutionary. I now could check that I was compiling the different aspects of the Office together correctly and my confidence eventually grew. Having the Breviary accessible on my phone was liberating. Not worrying about whether I was doing it correctly meant I could concentrate on the beauty of the prayer itself. This was the prayer of the church, and to think that many millions of people would be saying the same prayer each day at a similar time was mind blowing.
In those those early days however Ipads were a complete no no, but it soon started to come together, and soon a day which did not begin and end with the Office became unimaginable.
The journey was under way, but soon my brain cells were to be in for a nasty awakening…