Saturday, 6 August 2016


With the diaconate ordination approaching, I have taken time to look at the liturgy, including the questions to which the candidate is expected to answer ‘I am’. I had always understood that this was the moment at which the candidate took vows of celibacy and obedience. This is true, in a way. Yet the wording of the questions surprised me.

To me a vow is a solemn promise to do something or abstain from something. No doubt this is the intention behind the questions (an intention which I take seriously!). But what is literally asked is, ‘Are you willing?’

That is all – the will in the moment which is expected to endure, and which the candidate is expected to protect.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ long journey towards Jerusalem begins with the sentence, autos to prosōpon estērisen tou poreuesthai eis Hierousalēm – ‘He fixed his face to go to Jerusalem’.

Incidentally, prosōpon means not only ‘face’ but also ‘person’.