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I was born for this

First slide

I stood in the middle of the intersection at 2 a.m. Usually these two roads are humming with cars, but now they were silent. I looked in each direction and considered how my life was about to change irrevocably.

It was the night before my diaconate ordination, and my heart was racing. Still awake at 2 a.m., I had thrown on my running shoes and gone out into the night.

Stopping outside a local parish, I wondered how I could feel so calm yet not be able to sleep. While my mind was at peace, my soul and my body — being united — were in cahoots, knowing that something big was about to go down later that day.

Four months earlier, it had hit me just how close I was to this monumental step of giving my life away permanently. Marriage and the priesthood came before my mind’s eye as two diverging roads. I had considered these two vocations for eight years, and now they were right there in front of me. The interesting thing was, I knew which route I would be taking. It was like an electric slot car racetrack, and my car’s slot turned definitively toward the priesthood.

God had been so clear in my life and prayer regarding his will for me. The choice before me was also clear: I could simply drift into this destiny or I could barrel into it full throttle. A classmate put it well: "I am bound by love." There were two roads of joy and suffering out there. In God’s loving providence, only one of them was mine, and my heart had long been set on it.

Returning from my run that night, I was able to get almost three hours of sleep. On waking, I was buzzing with excitement, all the while confident and eager. Arriving at the cathedral, I was surprised that I wasn’t nervous. I realized this isn’t just a big day, this is who I am. I was born for this. God planned to give me the gifts of life as a deacon since before I existed.

Half an hour before Mass, putting on my new vestments, I got worried. "Am I putting everything on correctly? Am I going to be able to pray well? Am I going to perform my part in the Mass perfectly?" As the clock ticked down, my classmates and I prayed in Bishop Michael F. Burbidge’s personal chapel. God the Father whispered to me: "Daniel, you don’t have to do anything. Just receive." My soul was brought back to its rest.

The time of the ordination came, and the Father showered the Holy Spirit upon us. We each said, "I do," and he configured us to Christ, his Son.

Now I am a deacon. I am at peace. My direction is set. I am not my own — I am given. In all honesty, it’s exhilarating. Commitment leads to freedom. I accept and choose the destiny that is mine. In the words of the Psalmist, "I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God. My happiness lies in you alone.’ He has put into my heart a marvelous love for the faithful ones who dwell in his land. O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup; it is you yourself who are my prize. The lot marked out for me is my delight: welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me" (Ps 16).

Deacon Rice, who is from St. Timothy Church in Chantilly, just completed his third year of theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. He was ordained a transitional deacon April 10.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021