Remembering to Remember
Recalling the grace along your diaconate journey
Given all that’s going on in our world and our Church, it can be easy for anyone in ministry to become discouraged and wonder if their efforts are making a difference. This can be especially challenging for deacon couples ministering at the parish and/or diocesan levels.
Perhaps we’ve been working on a parish mission or a local Catholic conference and struggling to put on the event with little or no support, as well as a lack of interest from the faithful. Perhaps we’re so bogged down with just the day-to-day duties and responsibilities both at home and in the church that we become overwhelmed and at times feel like throwing in the proverbial towel. Perhaps the many activities that keep a deacon away from the family are causing additional tension and stress. There could be several factors adding to our discouragement. It happens to all of us.
That’s why my husband, Deacon Dominick, and I find it particularly helpful to go back and remember not only our journey to the diaconate and our overall faith journey, but also to remind ourselves of the very long, challenging, yet beautiful journey of the Catholic Church, the saints, the apostles, as well as countless other witnesses throughout the centuries that helped pass on Catholicism.
We believe in the “remembering” effort so strongly that we have even developed a retreat for diaconate couples based on the concept of “Remembering to Remember.” There is a wonderful song with the same name written by a favorite Christian music artist of mine, Steven Curtis Chapman, which is where we came up with the theme in the first place. I use the song frequently as bumper music on my radio program when I feel my listeners need a spiritual shot in the arm.
It is a great reminder of how we need to allow ourselves to be frequently humbled by all that God has done and continues to do in our lives and his Church, to remember, as it says in Psalm 77:12, “I will recall the deeds of the LORD; / yes, recall your wonders of old.”
It’s not about getting stuck in the past. Instead, it is about remembering that, whatever we’re going through, this isn’t our first rodeo, so to speak. And it’s certainly not the Church’s first rodeo, given what we know from the early Church, beginning with all the struggles revealed in the Acts of the Apostles, continuing with the many heresies the Church has fought, and on to the great cloud of witnesses — again, so many amazing saints who persevered through trials as large or, in many cases, much larger than we are currently experiencing. I find the refrain of Chapman’s “Remember to Remember” especially edifying:
“Remember the way he led you to the top of the highest mountain. / Remember the way he carried you through the deepest dark. / Remember his promises for every step on the road ahead. / Look where you’ve been and where you’re going. / And remember to remember.”
My husband just marked 10 years, praise God, as a deacon in the Archdiocese of Detroit. If you would have told either of us — say 30 years ago as we were slowly making our way back into full communion with the Catholic Church — that Dominick would be a deacon and I would be a Catholic radio host and author, we would have smiled and thought, “Well, there is someone who is a few sandwiches short of a picnic.” It wasn’t even on our radar. It has been quite a journey filled with twists, turns, ups and downs and, most importantly, grace upon grace.
So, if you’re feeling a little punch-drunk, or as if you’re in the middle of what feels like an ongoing game of whack-a-mole, consider this question: When was the last time you remembered the grace of your diaconate journey, the many miracles the Lord has done in your life and, last but not least, God’s “miracles of long ago”? When was the last time you remembered to remember?
Look where you’ve been and where you’re going. And remember to remember.
Taking a stroll down our Christian memory lane, can and does make a difference. Happy trails.
TERESA TOMEO is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio, and the author of “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic” (OSV, $14.95). She is married to Deacon Dom Pastore, an ordained deacon in the Archdiocese of Detroit.