Summer Salt for the Soul: Week 4
Summer Salt for the Soul
… to flavor
… to season
… to preserve
People often say, Sister, I would love to come to the things you offer at St. Brigid, but I don’t have time. So, here is a brief study that you can do at home, in your own time. You can do it with a friend, a neighbor, or your family. Each Summer Salt is independent, so you can do all or just one. That is up to you!!
Phoebe and Stephen
Not names from scripture that are usually linked together but they have something in common. They both were deacons in the early Church.
Stephen was a Greek-speaking Jew (Hellenist) and part of the first community of the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem. When murmuring began in the community because many felt that the Greek-speaking widows and needy were not being cared for, Peter ordered that seven people be chosen. It would be their responsibility to care for the needs of the poor in the Jerusalem Church. These seven became known as the first deacons of the Church. Stephen proved himself to be a powerful and influential speaker which made him a threat to the Jewish leadership. He was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death by stoning. He is often called Stephen Protomartyr meaning the first to die for his belief in Jesus.
Phoebe was a woman of financial means, as well as a prominent and influential member of the community. In the letter of Paul to the Romans, we are introduced to Phoebe. Paul identifies her as a deacon, as a sister and a benefactor. She was a deacon of the Church of Cenchreae (Acts 18:18-23). There is also evidence that she lived among the people of Ephesus. Many scripture scholars believe that she carried Paul’s Letter to the Romans to the Church in Rome. He urges them to receive her with hospitality and provide any assistance she might need. You can read about Phoebe in Romans 16:1-16. Tens of thousands of women served as fully ordained deacons in Catholic parishes during ten long centuries. Some of them ministered in Italy and Gaul, but the vast majority lived and worked in Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. At that time the Orthodox East was still part of the Catholic Church.
We are blessed to have deacons here at St. Brigid of Kildare: Deacon Frank Iannarino and Deacon Paul Zemanek and retired Deacon Don Poirier. Today there is an ever-increasing need for deacons in the Church. However, it is a ministry that is only open to men at the present time. Perhaps someday that will change. Pray to Phoebe and Stephen to bless our deacons as well as all the deacons serving the needs of the Church today. You might be interested in reading Handmaids of the Lord: Women Deacons in the Catholic Church by Jane Coli. Go out of your way to offer someone hospitality and assistance this week. — Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP