Kwang Lee is a final-year student at St. John’s Seminary of the Archdiocese of Boston. God willing, he will be ordained a priest in May 2011. For the past two years, he has been a frequent presence in our parish on weekends and during summer breaks. He has endeared himself to many of us in the church by his extraordinary and selfless efforts on behalf of our pastor and the parish, and when he was ordained a transitional deacon last month, several parishioners, including me, attended the ordination Mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End. It was a joyous occasion.
Last weekend in our church, Kwang gave his first homily as a deacon. I was away, celebrating my wife’s birthday, also a joyous occasion. Yesterday at the 4 p.m. mass and today at the 10:30 a.m., I heard him preach the Gospel for the first time in my experience, the second in his. The experience was profoundly moving.
This afternooon for three hours, I read slowly the final pages of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. As I read, I asked myself why I was reading. My wife is away until the day after tomorrow. My dance card is open. The Celtics are on TV. The snow is melting, and the road is open for walking, which I love. Super Bowl parties are already starting, and, yes, I have been invited to one. And here I am reading a devotional text from the 15th century, said to be the second most-read religious book in the world, after the Bible?! Again, I asked myself why.
The answer remains murky, but it is clear that I wanted to be here, in this chair, reading The Imitiation of Christ, in part because of Deacon Kwang’s second homily. As I left our church this morning about 11:30, someone said to me, “He’s something special, isn’t he?”—referring to Deacon Kwang.
It was all I could do to mutter, Mm-hmmm.