From a reader:
In the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite, a priest may vest and serve as a deacon at the celebration of the Mass.
Is there general or particular legislation to prevent a priest from vesting and serving as deacon at Mass in the Novus Ordo?
If there is no legislation to impede a priest from functioning as a deacon in the Novus Ordo, why isn’t it done? If you please, I’m hoping for as detailed a response as may be practical. Perhaps your readers can help.
It is true that priests always did fill the functions of deacon and subdeacon at Solemn Masses in the older, traditional Roman Mass.
That fell into desuetude with the Novus Ordo for a couple reasons. First, the idea of the "solemn Mass" became fuzzy and then dropped off in to a amorphous "liturgy".
Also, there was a desire to underscore the proper ministries of the different orders of Holy Orders, of priest and of deacon. The result was that priests were not to do anything deacons would do, were deacons present.
I agree with that, actually. If deacons are present, let them do the job which deacons do! Since there are no more subdeacons, except in name, let deacons take those roles also.
The other factor in this was the great pressure… weird near obsession… that priests had to concelebrate all the time. Since a concelebrating priest had to behave as a priest at Mass, he couldn’t do anything a deacon might do, including vest in a dalmatic, etc.
If memory serves, I think there is in some document somewhere a recommendation, but not a prohibition, that priests not take deacon’s roles. I can’t remember where that might be. Perhaps a reader could find it.
In the context of a Novus Ordo Vigil of Easter, I have put on a dalmatic to sing the Exsultet. It just made sense. It is the great "diaconal" moment and I am still a deacon, though also a priest. I didn’t concelebrate in a dalmatic, which would be jarring and wrong.
This is one of those areas in which, I think, we could find a strong gravitational pull from the older, Extraordinary Form on the newer, Ordinary Form.
The paradigm for Holy Mass is not the "low Mass". This is a common mistake. The template is the most solemn form: the bishop’s solemn celebration. Other Masses of decreasing solemnity imitate the "higher" more solemn forms to the extent they can within the bonds of common sense and resources.
It seems to me that if in a "Novus Ordo" parish there are more than one Masses on a great feast, and there are clergy available, priests and deacons, then they ought to be vested to play different roles.
Let us abandon the obsession of concelebration and underscore the solemnity of a Mass with differentiated roles. A priest is still also a deacon, after all.