A Trinitarian Perspective

Our threefold embrace of relationship, identity and mission

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Deacon YerhotThe great revelation of the Incarnation was the Trinitarian nature of God. God had revealed himself as one throughout salvation history and in fullness of time. He further revealed he is three persons. Of this, all Christians agree and profess; in this, much can be understood about our own lives.

Indeed, this central mystery of our faith is clearly revealed even in creation. It resounds in every aspect of our lived human experience. It can be recognized even in the behavioral sciences through discerning eyes of faith.

Just as God is understood as one in a Trinitarian relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so, too, are we when we are well-integrated in our primary relationships, which reveal our identity and our mission.

Indeed, knowing who we are (identity) and what we are to do (mission) flow from our primary relationships. The behavioral sciences recognize this as therapists assist patients to explore their relationships to better understand the roots of their psychological wounds, and in doing so repair damaged self-image and establish a healthy plan for living.

Yes, what God has revealed of himself can be recognized even in all his creation, especially the human person! As we approach our spiritual lives, are we sensitive to this all-important reality?

As deacons, deciding what ministries to accept and which to lay aside arise from our identities, which are known through our primary relationships with God, Church and family. This begs the following threefold question: How is my prayer life going? How is my relationship with my bishop? How is my family life?

These questions are essential. Too many of us neglect one or more of these relationships. We underestimate the definitive power they rightly possess by God’s design. We wonder why we subsequently struggle in our prayer life, our family life and our ministry.

To better know your ministry, repair and maintain these relationships. Get right with God! Know your bishop’s ministry and how he wishes you to assist him. Be attentive to your families.

Attending these primary relationships will improve your ministry. They define you and are the sources of your mission as a deacon. You will better know yourself. What before was unintegrated, arduous and tiresome will become an expression of God’s unique plan for you.

Keeping strong our primary relationships — with God, bishop and family — depends on our ability to be in close contact with them. Unfortunately, this is very difficult for many deacons. Too often we are wounded men and avoid these relationships as a coping strategy. In doing so, we avoid the very remedy we need.

Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Have monthly sit-downs with your wife and family to discuss the family’s emotional health. Take to heart what your wife and children have to say.

2. Schedule regular monthly appointments with your spiritual director to review your prayer life.

3. On at least an annual basis take time with your bishop or his delegate to discuss your ministry and his requests of you.

Brothers, I encourage you to honestly look at your prayer lives. Is there intimacy with the Lord? If not, why not? Is there a sense of closeness to your bishop and/or his delegate? If not, why not? Is there intimacy in your marriage? If not, why not? A fearless examination of these questions will undoubtedly clarify your identity and mission as a deacon. Bring all this to your spiritual director. And never hesitate to reach out to professional help when necessary.

Just as God is one in three persons, so, too, we are one in our threefold embrace of relationship, identity and mission.

DEACON ROBERT YERHOT, MSW, is the assistant director emeritus of the diaconate for the Diocese of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota. He sits on the editorial board for the Josephinum Diaconal Review and has previously published articles on diaconal spirituality.

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