Saturday, December 18, 2010


Our charge as Christians is to pray without ceasing, privately daily, and with our faith community as often as possible. Equally important is the regular attendance at the weekly Eucharistic Celebration also referred to at the Divine Liturgy or Mass. This will help and encourage us to choose behavior that does not work against our spiritual development (sin). God has given each of us a free will and so we still must choose our behavior. Sometimes we kid ourselves that this or that behavior is not bad, or even that it is fun so God would want us to experience joy if he truly Loves us. The truth is that sin can be fun and in America sin is not against civil law. In fact our Constitutions gives Americans the right to pursue happiness even if it is sin. Does that make America bad? No. But it does mean we have responsibility as Americans and Christians to pursue healthy happiness that contributes to our family and community.

So how do we deal with our spiritual path and still live in the free world? This is the true battle. Centering allows us to quiet our minds with the intention to connect, be with, be inspired by, be touched by God’s Grace and without clearly articulating in our thoughts, connect with Divine which opens us up to Grace, if God Chooses. As we become more aware of God we begin to discern our observations, thoughts, people, and other worldly phenomenon which motivates our choices.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Ordination Pictures and More

Waterville, Maine, October 24, 2010 - Stephen C. Crate was ordained at St. Joseph Maronite Church to the minor orders of Lector, Cantor and subdeacon by Chor Bishop Dominic Ashkar the pastor of our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church in Washington DC. The Clergy attending were Father Larry Jensen, Pastor, Father James Roy, long time friend of the Parish, and Father Paul Murray, his Spiritual Director from the local Roman Diocese. The Deacon was Deacon Peter Joseph, life long member of the parish, loyal minister to St Joseph and a cousin and close friend to Stephen's father-in-law Deeb Ferris who was ordained to the subdeaconte with Peter in 1979. The servers were Ben and Jake Hodgken, dedicated to serving in the sanctuary.
The ordination included a honor guard of the Knights of Columbus in full regalla.

Chor Bishop Ashkar shared a remarkable story about the altar. When he was 10 or 11 years old he remembers his father assembling this altar for shipment to the United States. He learned years later that the same altar was shipped here to St Joseph Maronite Church in 1950. He this was an emotional moment to see the same altar he was awed by as a young boy.

Guests who attended included Steve's wife Allison and his two son's Matthew and Daniel. Steve's brother Doug and his two participated in the offeratory procession. Extended family and friends were also in attendance as well as a full church of regular St Joseph parishioners.

A reception was held after the ordination ceremony in the church hall. Pictures of the event can be viewed at the parish website by clicking on the title of this blog.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ordination Date Set

I am happy to announce the date for my ordination to the minor order of lector, cantor and subdeacon as Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 10:00 AM at St Joseph Maronite Church, 3 Appleton Street, Waterville, Maine. I have spent the last few years discerning this next step on a spiritual path I have been on for a long time. I have been involved at St Joseph Maronite Church as a volunteer, Sunday school teacher, parish council member and reader since Allison and I were married there in 1975. The permanent subdiaconate is a minor religious order that serves as an assistant during religious services in the Maronite Catholic Church. I am not changing careers, but rather enhancing my spiritual relationship and service to the church. I will continue my professional work as a writer, teacher, and vocational rehabilitation specialist.

This ancient ritual is completed during the Qurbono or Divine Liturgy. Chorbishop Dominique Ashkar, from Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Washington, DC will be conducting the ordination.

I am posting this to let you know of the date of this milestone in my life. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for your interest in my life.


P.S. Below I have included some Internet links that provide more information about the Maronite Church and and some other related websites. my home parish along with a brief description of the role of a subdeacon.

The Eastern United States Eparchy Home page
The Western United States Eparchy Home page

A You tube interview of our United States Bishops of the Maronite Church The Western United States Eparchy Home page

My Home Parish web page St. Josephs

The Maronite Monastery where I will be attending a retreat prior to my ordination
Maronite Servants to Christ the Light is a community of prayer and contemplation for women

SUBDEACON: In the *Maronite *Church, a subdeacon is the ministerial order before that of *deacon. This is a volunteer ministry. Subdeacons are expected to continue caring for their families and maintaining their professional employment while serving the church. Subdeacons are charged with "ministering at the altar," lighting the church and caring for the church building. In the *Qoorbono besides proclaiming some of the responses, subdeacons are charged with reading certain passages from the Scriptures. In the past, subdeacons have served in a liaison capacity between civil authorities and their religious communities in secular dealings affecting the villages in which they lived and served, particularly in the Middle East. Today, along with the temporary subdiaconate in seminary, a revived permanent subdiaconate exists.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thanking the Holy Spirit

This weeks Epistle (1 Corinthians 12:1-12)  is a wonderful reminder that we each have different methods to share our spiritual selves with the world.  There was a time in my life, when I was much younger, that I thought bringing attention to my self in a funny or shocking way was the best way to be known and share my being.  I would say outlandish things, or act out a little,  people would laugh or not but I got the attention or the smile or sometimes my mother would say "Stephen". That was her way of scolding.    I learned that this only brought embarrassment to me and pain to my parents, brothers and friends. Although they never shared this with me until much later.  The self awareness embarrassment never reached me with clarity until the last few years when I have spent time reflecting on my self and my past behaviors.  This was part of my study and prayer to become a subdeacon in the Maronite Church.  I sent my profession of faith and my petition to be ordained to our bishop this last week and have continued my reflection.

Spiritual discernment can be a very difficult but rewarding process. For... you can't hide from your true self.  As you get to know the true self that God reveals through the process of contempative prayer an awareness arises.  On the river of thoughts you see all that you have been. Like a movie it arises, you become aware of it and it passes without judgement or action only new awareness.  The difficult thing is that you really can not do a thing about your past behavior as you view it in your memory river.  What is done is done.  In some situations you can and should try to make ammends with people you may have hurt.  But what you can do now is you can vow to make better choices in the future.  And, God willing,  those choices will keep you on the path to spiritual development, health and prosperity.  One day at a time, for my friends of Bill W.  So today my blog has a theme of gratitude. Gratitude for the gifts I have been given to teach and counsel as a vocational rehabilitation counselor.  Gratitude for the blessings of my family and friends who over the years witnessed my "out side the box" expression (verbal and behavorial)  without scolding or berating me. And finaly gratitude for the forgiveness I have recieved from my friends and family and most of all the Lord.  For with out forgiveness, true forgiveness, we can not go forth on the path.  Please pray for me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One Year Later

Last year I started Weight Watchers and weighed in at 273.  Two weeks ago I was 265 and feeling better than I have felt in a long time. I am a little more today but since my lowest for the year I am counting last weeks number.     So... 8 lbs in one year. I guess it is better that gaining.  Need to focus more by letting go 1 lb per week starting today. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Ancient New Faith

Recently I have connected with some old friends who have become Pastors and ministers in the Protestant tradition. A few questions have arisen about how I reached the decision to become a subdeacon in the Maronite Catholic Church since I grew up Presbyterian. The whole story is included in my first entry on this blog and I would encourage you to look at this if you are curious about how I came to this decision.

My purpose today is to share a new article by our Bishop titled: What it means to be Maronite. It touches on seven key areas of focus that make a lot of sense to me and I believe will give those who read the article a good introduction to being a Maronite. Specifically, the second area of focus where Bishop Gregory talks about Maronites being an ecumenical bridge among many faiths throughout history. I want to continue that tradition with all my new friends no matter what their faith tradition happens to be. I believe this open communication amongst those of different faiths is the key to world peace in the future.

Hope your day is filled Love and Peace and May God Bless you and your family.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

New Year Restoration

I look forward to the American economic engine building some momentum as spring arrives. Hope and a new entreprenuerial spirit has given birth to new ventures, renewed belief and new jobs.