QUAERITUR: Why do deacons distribute Communion? Are they just glorified EMHC’s?

deaconsFrom a reader:

What makes a Deacon an “ordinary” minister of the Eucharist?

Is it simply that he is ordained? I tried to ask our local Deacon, and
was expecting a more theological treatment, but maybe I was expecting too much. I wanted to be able to explain to our entourage of EMHC’s that what they did was different than what the Deacon does/represents.

Why isn’t the Deacon simply a glorified EMHC with a title?

Sadly, many permanent deacons I have known in times past were little more than glorified EMHC’s (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion) because they were lacking in good theological preparation before ordination.  I am glad to hear far and wide that programs of formation for the permanent diaconate are being overhauled and vastly improved.

That said, a deacon is an ordinary minister of Communion, not merely an Extraordinary Minister of Communion, because of their ordination.  Diaconate, after all, is a step of Holy Orders, which conforms their souls for the tasks to which Holy Church sets them.

We make a distinction between Ministers of the Eucharist and of Communion.  The former confect the Eucharist.  The latter distribute the Eucharist.   Deacons don’t confect the Eucharist.  Cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum 154.

This has roots, of course, in Scripture.

Whereas it is hard in to decipher the difference in Scripture between priests and bishops, it is pretty clear that deacons were something else.   They were ordained to assist or serve the priesthood in concrete ways.  The very word “deacon” comes from the Greek word for “servant”.    In Acts 6 we get the story of how the Apostles, obviously overwhelmed with tasks, needed help so that people, for example, widows, in need of works of mercy were not neglected.   In order to bee freer for prayer and the ministry of the word, the Apostles chose men to assist them.

Their earliest duties would have extended to distribution of food, probably during the earliest Eucharistic contexts.  We have a pretty clear idea that deacons distributed the Eucharist Itself in the first centuries, because at the Council of Nicea it was debated whether or not they should be allowed to do so.  Nevertheless, they retained a special relationship with the sacred vessels, and were allowed to touch them even though their hands were not consecrated.  This probably harks to the distribution of food and goods, as well as the Eucharist.  Some say that they are particularly conformed to see to the “kingly” dimension of the three-fold ministry of Priest, Prophet and King, which the Church receives from Christ, who is all three perfectly.  The kingly office would pertain especially to the administration of goods, which clearly flows from their earliest purpose in the minds of the Apostles.  That involves concrete tasks such as distribution of something tangible, even as the Eucharist at Communion is tangible, consumable.

Also, consider that the Church’s legislation concerning EMHC’s indicates that, in most circumstances, they probably shouldn’t be their at all.  Make it clear – delicately – they don’t have a right to do what they do and not to get their back up if they aren’t called upon to do it.  This isn’t a way to “get lay people involved in active participation”.  EMHCs, even those deputed for a time, have only an ad hoc role, a temporary deputation, a momentary task depending on circumstances and the will of the priest.  Deacons have a stable task for the Church, not just for the moment.  True, they will usually and properly give way in the presence of other priests, but, nevertheless, when deacons are present they should be the first to fill the role the Church designates for them, namely to proclaim the Gospel in liturgical worship, assist with the sacred vessels and distributed the Eucharist.  Occasionally also to preach (though my heart still shudders at what I have in the past heard for a few… but I digress).

“But Father! But Father!”, I can hear the Reverend Messers exclaiming out there. “What about…? … And what about…? And then there’s this…!  And!!! ….”    They are nearly elbowing me off my own keyboard as I type, so eager they are to get in here.

I will let them, since it is part of their ministry to assist and serve, they can assist and serve in this thread and serve out the very best of their insights as food for thought and soul.

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58 Responses to QUAERITUR: Why do deacons distribute Communion? Are they just glorified EMHC’s?

  1. TomG says:

    Actually, I have known perm deacons who were excellent homilists [Good for you!] – the one in my large suburban parish being the latest. And, it has been my experience that perm deacons have been less prone to … entertain (yikes!) … than some priests I have known.

  2. Teresa-1962 says:

    Isn’t a permanent deacon considered the “minister of the cup?” Is that why they raise the chalic during the “Through Him, with Him…..” part of the NO mass?

  3. mparrot says:

    I have to chime in with TomG. One of the few times I have ever heard Hell mentioned in a homily at a OF parish was by a Deacon who was giving the homily. [Good for you! And why do deacons distribute Holy Communion?]

  4. Dr. Eric says:

    This is yet another example of 95% of church going Catholics not knowing their Faith. The order of the Diaconate should be common knowledge in the United States, we have more Deacons in numbers and per Catholic than any other country in the world.

  5. priests wife says:

    of course- this is from a Byzantine perspective- My husband was a deacon for a year and a half before being ordained priest- when a deacon is present- he leads the litanies as well as sings the Gospel and preaches at the priest’s pleasure. Our ‘pre-sanctified Liturgy ‘ (a long and involved communion service) can be led by the deacon as well. When a deacon is present, he is the servant for the priest or bishop. A Byzantine Divine Liturgy needs all three ‘ranks’ to be what it should be (according to my husband)

    I think that Fr Z has explained that being a deacon is being a cleric and this is why he can distribute communion ‘ordinarily’ – many problems would be solved if we all would be educated in and do our proper jobs.

  6. Gail F says:

    In our Archdiocese, deacons have to go to the seminary for extra training before they are given faculties to preach and there is (I have heard rumored) some feeling among those deacons who have done so that they have more training in homiletics and spend more time preparing homilies than priests. I have heard a couple of preaching deacons (ha ha) and their homilies varied in quality just like priests’ so I don’t know if the training does any good, but they do get it.

  7. Nathan says:

    I’ve wondered for a while whether or not permanent deacons [The top entry wasn't about just permanent deacons, though I think it might have been implied.] could serve as the “bridge” to significantly reduce the abuse of “permanent EMHCs.” It seems that a lot of the voices for the battery of EMHCs advocate the practice to speed up Holy Communion for the Faithful. IMO, two or three deacons and an altar rail, along with having all the available parish priests show up for distribution of Holy Communion could easily resolve any qualms people may have in how long it takes to receive.

    I would also hope that more permanent deacons might help with an act of mercy that I recently found to be crying to heaven for redress–in locations where there is a very large retired population, it is incredbly difficult to find clergy ministering to the dying. It was possible to get Extreme Unction (Anointing of the Sick) in the hospital, [From a priest. Deacons can't do that.] but very very difficult to find any way to get the local church to “pull out the stops” for the dying, even in the case of a long-term regular practicing parishoner. I would hope that a cadre of a theologically-grounded diaconate would help to proclaim the Gospel to the dying, be the eyes and ears for parish priests to regularly come and hear Confessions of the homebound (and to make sure that the priests give the Apostolic Benediction!) , and to to provide spiritual guidance to help ward off what I am coming to see as the horrible temptations of the aging: loneliness and physical degeneration leading to despair and an inability to recognize God’s mercy.

    In Christ,

  8. Rob Cartusciello says:

    We can get some guidance from Ministeria Quædam, Para. 6:

    The acolyte is appointed in order to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest. It is his duty therefore to attend to the service of the altar and to assist the deacon and the priest in liturgical celebrations, especially in the celebration of Mass; he is also to distribute communion as a special minister when the ministers spoken of in the Codex Iuris Canonici can. 845 are not available or are prevented by ill health, age, or another pastoral ministry from performing this function, or when the number of communicants is so great that the celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged.

    Codex Iuris Canonici [of 1917] 845, Par. 2. “The extraordinary minister of holy communion is the deacon, with permission of the local bishop or the parish priest, only to be granted for a serious reason, which may legitimately be presumed in a case of emergency.”

  9. frjim4321 says:

    Correct, deacons are ordinary ministers of communion as are installed acolytes.

  10. cursormundi says:

    Rob

    Yes, we can get some guidance from Ministeria Quædam, Para. 6, however, under the 1983 Code: Can 910 , the deacon is an ordinary minister of holy communion.
    thanks
    Brian

  11. cursormundi says:

    Hello frjim4321

    Just a wee correction, but an acolyte is extraordinary and not ordinary. See the second part of Can 910.

    thanks

    Brian

  12. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    Justin Martyr about 150 A.D.:
    And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. – First Apology

    Hippolytus circa 215 A.D.:
    On the first day of the week the bishop, if possible, shall deliver the oblation to all
    the people with his own hand, while the deacons break the bread. When the deacon
    brings it to the elder, the deacon shall present his platter, and the elder shall take it himself
    and distribute it to the people by his own hand….

    The deacon shall be diligent in giving the oblation to the sick, if there is no elder.
    When he has been given as much as is necessary, receiving according to how much
    needs to be given out, he shall give thanks, and they shall eat there….

    Everyone shall be careful to receive the blessed bread and from the hand of the elder or deacon. – Apostolic Tradition

    Our two earliest and best sources about out Liturgy both spell out the special relationship of the deacon to the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament.

    The question asks “…is it just that they are ordained?” Well, YES! Divinely instituted for the job by God from the very beginnings of the Church! YES! The problem with the EM’s o’ HC as revealed in this question is that they debase and lessen the esteem given to Ordination and the Blessed Sacrament, at the same time making the deacons mere functionaries and the reducing the Sacraments or Orders and the Eucharist to a mere acts of functionality; this seems to me a dangerously Calivinistic way of thinking. God grant us all the respect for the Eucharist to know that if enough sacramentally sanctified hands are not available to distribute the Body and Blood, that we should have the humility to wait for Body and Blood to be brought to us. Hippolytus in that last statement makes it very clear that neither sub-deacons, nor laity (both whom he speaks of specifically), nor any other were allowed to assume the role.

    I sometimes wonder if this was a roundabout way of making “Deaconesses.”

  13. Stephen Matthew says:

    So the 1983 CIC provides for bishops, priests, and deacons to be ordinary ministers of communion. Acolytes are extraordinary ministers and as needed other lay persons may also be extraordinary ministers.

    Would it be correct to say that in a certain narrow sense, not exactly legal, that bishops are the true ordinary ministers of the eucharist and that priests are something of an extraordinary minister of the eucharist?

    Also, this most recent Sunday, a transitional deacon and Dominican brother home for a holiday visit to his family both proclaimed the gospel and preached the homily for the Epiphany. He also chanted the Kyrie rather beutifully and other parts as well. I should note he was a seminarian of our diocese for his college seminary (St. John Vianney at St Thomas in St Paul) and the first part of major seminary (St Meinrad), but has been in formation with the Order of Preachers for several years now, is pursuing an STL (House of Studies in Washington, DC), and will be ordained a priest this spring. He gave a fine homily that’s only possible fault was trying to cram more into one homily than some parishoners would prefer. I was also pleased to note he distributed communion, but the host rather than the cup, which I had always thougth the cup was proper to deacons. Come to think of it, when multiple ministers are needed it seems priests and deacons are commonly being given priority for the host and the EMHC are handling the cup at various places I have been recently.

  14. Tom Ryan says:

    Perhaps, it’s time to re evaluate the Permanent Diaconate programme?
    http://www.latinmassmagazine.com/articles/articles_emasculation.html

  15. greasemonkey says:

    R. Father, whither goest thou without thy son Holy Priest, dost thou fare hence without a Deacon
    * It hath never been thy use to offer sacrifice without a minister.
    V. What therefore in me hath displeased thee, my Father Hast thou tried me and found me unworthy to be called thy son Make trial if I am indeed an useless servant, even I, whom thou didst choose, to commit unto me the administration of the Cup of the Blood of the Lord.
    R. It hath never been thy use to offer sacrifice without a minister.
    -Reading 4 (Matins/ Feast of St. Lawrence (EF))

    [And then they were both killed.]

  16. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Thanks to those who added to my initial commentary & citation from Ministeria Quædam. The current Codex Iuris Canonici is the authoritative source:

    Codex Iuris Canonici 0f 1983, c. 910

    §1 The ordinary minister of holy communion is a Bishop, a priest or a deacon.

    §2 The extraordinary minister of holy communion is an acolyte, or another of Christ’s faithful deputed in accordance with can. 230 §3.

    I am now rather annoyed at my seminary instructors who instructed us that, as instituted acolytes, we were ordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

    Frustratingly, I passed along the same misinformation to others. Mea culpa. I will correct myself in the future.

  17. Fr. Basil says:

    \\Isn’t a permanent deacon considered the “minister of the cup?” Is that why they raise the chalic during the “Through Him, with Him…..” part of the NO mass?\\

    ANY Deacon is a minister of the Precious Blood.

    I cannot explain why the Deacon assists in the Lesser Elevation in the Ordinary Form, but in the Byzantine Liturgies, between the Words of Institution and the Epiclesis, as the Priest says, “Your own of Your own we offer to You, in behalf of all and for all,” the Deacon elevates both species of the Holy Gifts (if no Deacon, the Priest does so himself).

    I might add that in the Byzantine tradition, though there may be half a dozen priests and no deacon, it is forbidden to dress up one of the Priests to act as Deacon pro-tem, even though it would make the ceremonial much easier.

    That is because the Diaconate is a ministry in its own right, and not mere a stepping stone to the Presbyterate or glorified layman (as some seem to think).

  18. LaudemGloriae says:

    It grieves my heart a little that anyone would confuse a deacon with “a glorified EMHC with a title” – what a jab! In my area of the world the permanent diaconate is a long and rigorous road undertaken by the most holy and sincere men of our parish/diocese. If I’m not mistaken deacons also have the authority to Baptize, witness the sacrament of Matrimony, and preach at Mass (1 week a month in my parish). No lay person has this authority.

    I wish they would bring back the minor orders … it would help people to understand the sacred functions of the Church.

  19. Deacon C says:

    I retrieved the following from our diocesan office of worship with respects to how the deacon serves/assist his pastor or Bishop at the Mass. I hope (although long) you will be able to identify why the deacon is much more than EMHC. The majority of references are to the GIRM. So what does the General Instruction of the Roman Missal state about deacons at the Mass and communion?

    The deacon, in virtue of having received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, serves the faithful by carrying the Book of the Gospels in the procession, proclaiming the Gospel; with the proper faculty and invitation, the deacon may give the homily.11 The deacon also normally announces the intentions of the Prayers of the Faithful.12 In addition, the deacon serving at Mass is an ordinary minister of the Holy Eucharist. When a deacon is serving at Mass and Holy Communion under both species is being distributed, the deacon is to minister the Precious Blood even in the presence of celebrating bishops and priests. If Holy Communion is being distributed under one species and there are concelebrating bishops and priests present, he serves only after concelebrating bishops and priests have filled the stations needed for the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful.
    11 GIRM, 94.
    12 GIRM, 94; 177
    Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are formed and serve in an auxiliary capacity to assist the ordinary ministers of the Holy Communion in the distribution of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood to the faithful of the Latin Rite.16 The acolyte, in virtue of institution with the approved rite, is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.17 In addition, in virtue of institution, the acolyte also serves first among all extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion present. Appointed extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are to be fully initiated in the Roman Catholic Church and are appointed by their Ordinary at the recommendation of their pastor for a period of three years. Renewal of this appointment may take place with the understanding that renewals are not to be indefinite.18 Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are to be ready to serve even though not scheduled.
    16 RS, 46; 155.
    17 RS, 155.
    18 RS, 155 and 160.
    The proper vesture for the deacon is an alb, cincture (unless the alb is made to fit
    without a cincture), dalmatic to be worn over the alb and stole.61 If the alb does not completely cover the ordinary clothing at the neck, an amice is to be worn.62 The dalmatic may be omitted due to necessity, in consideration of principal of progressive solemnity, or in Sacred Liturgies where preference is given to those deacons serving as deacon of the Word and deacon of the Eucharist.
    Suitable vesture, such as a cope, may be worn by a priest or deacon for sacred processions or for other sacred functions in accord with the rubrics for the Sacred Liturgy being celebrated.63 It is particularly noted for use during the entrance procession for the Liturgy of Passion Sunday and the procession which may follow the Liturgy of Corpus Christi.
    61 GIRM, 336; 338; RS, 125.
    62 GIRM, 336.
    63 GIRM, 341.
    The order of the procession is the thurifer (if incense is used), the crucifer with candle bearers, the acolytes or altar servers, the deacon of the Word or lector or reader carrying the Book of the Gospels, priest concelebrants (if present), and the principal celebrant (with the deacon of the Eucharist, if present, to the side of the principal celebrant).77
    77 GIRM, 120; 172.
    In the absence of a deacon and a priest concelebrant, the principal celebrant is to proclaim the Gospel. If a deacon is present, he is to proclaim Gospel, or if a deacon is not present, by a priest concelebrant, if present.92 The Book of the Gospels is processed to the ambo from the altar prior to the proclamation of the Gospel. This procession may be led by the thurifer and candle bearers. Following the greeting and the statement, “A reading from the Gospel according to…,” the Book of the Gospels may be incensed. In Dioceses in the United States and during Sacred Liturgies celebrated in English, the word “Saint” is not prescribed to be announced prior to the name of any of the four Evangelists.93
    93 See the Lectionary for Mass for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, Second Typical Edition.
    The altar is prepared by the deacon (if present) and the acolytes (or altar servers). Altar linens are brought to the altar. The altar should already be covered with a white altar cloth.99 Among these a corporal is unfolded where the gifts of bread and wine will be placed. The bread and wine may be distributed into the ciboria and chalices in accord with the norms mentioned in paragraphs 32, 33, and 34. Additional corporals are used if multiple ciboria and chalices are to be placed on the altar unless all the sacred vessels may fit on a single corporal.100 In addition, purificators are brought to the altar sufficient in number for the chalices to be used for the Sacred Liturgy. If the main chalice is covered with a veil, it is a custom that the veil is removed once the chalice is placed on the altar.
    Prior to the offering of the wine, a deacon, or in his absence, the principal celebrant, places a little amount of water in the principle chalice only, as is custom, while saying the ancient prayer recalling the union of the humanity and divinity of Christ.105
    99 GIRM, 304
    100 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds, 7 April 2002, 36. Subsequent references will be indicated as CN.
    101 GIRM, 13; 281; RS, 89.
    102 GIRM, 73 AND 74; RS, 70.
    103 GIRM, 75.
    104 RS, 70.
    105 GIRM, 142.
    If deacons of the Word and of the Eucharist are present, they are to kneel from the Epiclesis until the elevation of the chalice.111 This norm does not apply to those deacons who are unable to kneel for reasons of health and/or age.
    The fraction rite is to be done only by the principal celebrant, if necessary, assisted by the deacon(s) or concelebrant while the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) is recited or sung.115
    111 GIRM, 179
    115 GIRM, 83; RS, 73
    Following the reception by the principal celebrant and the concelebrants, the deacon(s) are to receive the Holy Communion from the principal celebrant assisted by any concelebrants present.123
    For the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful in the assembly, the principal priest celebrant may be assisted by extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, if other priests, deacons are not available and if there is a large number of communicants. Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are not to approach the altar until after the principal celebrant receives both species of the Holy Eucharist.124
    123 GIRM, 244. 124 GIRM, 162
    The GIRM provides a lot of information and theology behind the diaconate and why we are ordinary ministers of Holy Communion, especially with respect towards Precious Blood.
    Pax et bonum,
    Deacon C.

  20. New Sister says:

    Nathan, I am so sorry … pax tecum.

  21. moon1234 says:

    Agree on bringing back the minor orders. They never should have been dropped. The theology they bring, along with being a stepping stone to the major orders, is deperatly needed today.

  22. It’s true that somebody needs to be keeping tabs on parishioners’ needs. The facts of parish life are that you usually can’t go to Father with any needs that aren’t on the Mass schedule, because he’s busy and the secretary is protecting him. The secretary has her own job, so she can’t do it. If people could call the deacon, that would help.

    Of course, the deacon’s too busy to talk to and has his own job too, and the deacon in training is so busy he doesn’t sleep in the parish, but it’s a nice thought. Maybe if the deacons had a secretary, people could talk to them. :)

  23. Rob Cartusciello says:

    During my formation, more time and attention was paid to the fact that women could not become instituted Lectors & Acolytes than what the Minor Ministries actually meant.

    Proper formation would have included the actual study of Ministeria Quedam, the associated provisions of canon law, a historical study of the Minor Ministries/Minor Orders and proper liturgical training. Sadly, none of that was done.

    Even less effort is done for the formation of EMHCs & Lectors. At one formation meeting, the sister running the event spent more time reminding us not to “exercise authority” than actually learning how to do the tasks. All the lay people thought it was a beautiful privilege and wouldn’t not have dreamed of being presumptive. I feel rather sad for the sister – she was merely reiterating decades of bad formation, and looked rather confused.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    Theresa, you said, “Isn’t a permanent deacon considered the “minister of the cup?” Is that why they raise the chalic during the “Through Him, with Him…..” part of the NO mass?”
    No, I don’t think they’re supposed to be doing this, at least in the Latin Rite. Deacons CANNOT confect Holy Communion and actions that make it appear to the congregation as though they are, are a horrible idea. Unfortunately, there are a certain number of deacons who think they can do pretty much anything a priest can do, try to concelebrate (yes), and never ever let you forget that they are ordained, like in every sentence to the exclusion of everything else. Not all of them are like that, but some are. As far as administering the chalice in the communion line, sure, deacons are a good choice for the ministers of Holy Communion because they are ORDINARY ministers, whereas laypeople are ALWAYS EXTRAORDINARY ministers.

    I”ve heard several deacons preach, but honestly, I can’t remember any of those homilies. They were completely non-descript. If they are getting special training, it doesn’t show. There are some priests who can preach, a few. Catholics in general tend to be lousy preachers, so my expectations aren’t high, though. It’s one of the things converts have to get used to. Nevertheless, deacon preachers are licit; lay preachers are NOT. Another big difference.

    Neither deacons nor “lay ministers” can attend a dying person and hear a deathbed confession. And as I’ve said before, if the local parish sends a layperson, they will be a layperson in the street in turbo time. A deacon, he’ll be in the street in a dignified fashion because he’s ordained, but he’ll be there nevertheless.

  25. Woodlawn says:

    I found Fr. James McLucas’s argument very persuasive (see “The Emasculation of the Priesthood” at the link above or below: )http://www.latinmassmagazine.com/articles/articles_emasculation.html

    Footnote 5. Deacons in the Latin Rite who distributed the Eucharist prior to the decree, Ministeria Quaedam, were always celibate and in a transition period awaiting priestly ordination.

  26. Joshua08 says:

    catholicmidwest,

    A deacon is supposed to elevate the chalice at the “minor elevation”. It is not a “horrible idea” but a millenia old practice

    GIRM 180. At the final doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer, the deacon stands next to the priest,
    holding the chalice elevated while the priest elevates the paten with the host, until the people
    have responded with the acclamation, Amen.

    And in the old rite

    Ritus servandus
    4. In solemn Masses, when the Celebrant says Per quem haec omnia, etc., the Deacon, having genuflected to the Sacrament, goes to the right of the Celebrant, and at the necessary time, uncovers the Chalice, adores It with the Celebrant, similarly covers It, and genuflects again. When the Celebrant begins Pater noster, the Deacon goes behind the Celebrant, where having first genuflected to the Sacrament, he stands while the Lord’s Prayer is said.

  27. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Catholicmidwest,

    USCCB state in their Guidelines for the Concelebration of the Eucharist :

    36. During the final doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer only the principal celebrant elevates the paten with the consecrated bread, while the deacon raises the chalice. The concelebrants do not elevate other chalices, ciboria, or other sacred vessels. If no deacon is present, one of the concelebrants may elevate the chalice.

  28. jesusthroughmary says:

    The elevation is, or should be, clearly distinct from the consecration. In the latter, the deacon is properly kneeling along with everyone else except the celebrant (and concelebrants if applicable); in the former, the deacon is properly standing and raising the chalice. The Sacrament having already been confected, there is nothing about the deacon raising the chalice that would give an indication that he attempting to confect the Sacrament.

  29. jesusthroughmary says:

    *is attempting

  30. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    “I found Fr. James McLucas’s argument very persuasive. ‘Footnote 5. Deacons in the Latin Rite who distributed the Eucharist prior to the decree, Ministeria Quaedam, were always celibate and in a transition period awaiting priestly ordination.’”

    and

    “The celibate priest, however, was offered through his office an incomparable and unparalleled intimacy: he alone could touch God.”

    While I think he makes some decent observations, don’t be persuaded by all points in this article, especially this one. Read the history of the Diaconate and what our Ordo actually did – in the East and the West, the Latin Church being just one of 22 Churches in the communion of the Catholic Church. None of what he writes above applies to any other Catholic Church, and then only certain segments and a certain historical period of the Latin Church.

    But so what if married men in Holy Orders distribute Holy Communion? Are we not consecrated by Christ and our Bishop to do so?

    I recall the the refusal to receive from a married presbyter was condemned by the 4th century local Council of Gangra, whose decisions were ratified by the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. The specific canon (4) reads:

    “If any one shall maintain, concerning a married presbyter, that is not lawful to partake of the oblation when he offers it, let him be anathema.”

    The attitude that it is only for celibates to “handle” the Gifts (and presumably to distribute them) comes pretty close to reflecting the attitude condemned by this early Church canon.

    The privilege of “touching the Eucharist” or handling sacred/holy things is not solely the domain of the celibate ascetic or solely the domain of the sacerdotal priesthood. What matters is that one has been authorized and even consecrated by his Bishop to do so. Period. (Subdeacons could also at one time bring Holy Communion to the sick.)

    And as one who is authorized and consecrated to do so as a deacon, I say: “Beware of familiarity with Holy Things!” This is one reason why in general the laity should not be permitted to distribute or handle the Eucharist or the Sacred Vessels, except in very specific circumstances and with very specific permissions. The mystery of the Condescension of God needs to be preserved, and there is a distinct danger to faith if one handles holy things without the grace or the commission by the Bishop to do so.

    Regarding the laity distributing the Holy Gifts, this is very rarely if ever done, and then only with the Bishop’s permission and IF the priest or deacon cannot do it. As a layman I had the blessing of my bishop at the time to do this once when our priest could not descend to the solea in front of the iconostasis to distribute Holy Communion due to an injury. It is an awesome responsibility, and one that I do not believe should be considered regularly for the laity, as it is done in the Latin Churches.

    Regarding the duties of the Deacon according to the Byzantine-rite in the practice of our Church, the deacon does the following liturgically:

    1. Is responsible for ensuring that the Sacristan, Acolyte, Reader and Subdeacons are prepared fulfill their duties before, during and after the liturgy properly.

    2. Receives the petitions at the North door of the iconostasis for the living and the dead, either from the Subdeacon or from the laity. He presents these to the Priest individually during the proskomedia (Rite of the Preparation of the Holy Gifts) prior to the start of the Divine Liturgy. Each petition may come with a small piece of bread (prophora) from which a piece is cut and placed on the diskos (a raised paten) with each petition. At one time the whole rite of preparation belonged to the deacons, as did the Great Entrance. The presbyters took over this responsibility, but I would personally like to see both restored to the diaconate.

    3. Petitions the priest in the name of the congregation to pray and bless and directs the congregation in their participation (be attentive, bowing, praying, etc) throughout the course of the Divine Liturgy.

    4. Stands in an intercessory role between the priest and the congregation to offer the litanies (petitions). This is done several times over the course of the liturgy.

    5. Incenses…a deacon and his censer are rarely if ever parted.

    6. Carrying the Gospel Book in the midst of the congregation and through the Holy Doors.

    7. Chanting the Gospel.

    8. Preaching. (We have a cycle of preaching – 3 deacons and our priest.)

    9. Carrying the diskos in the Great Entrance.

    10. Petitioning the priest at the Epiclesis.

    11. Incensing the altar t the Hymn to the Theotokos, commemorating the deceased.

    12. Preparing the Holy Gifts for distribution (commingling the Gifts in the Chalice(s) and pouring Zeon (hot water) into the Chalice).

    13. Calling the faithful to approach with fear and deep reverence for God.

    14. Distributing Holy Communion with the priest. If there is only one chalice, usually the priest distributes and the deacons hold the communion cloth.

    15. Bringing the diskos from the Altar Table back to the Prothesis Table.

    16. Performing the ablutions of the sacred vessels.

    Hope this helps. God bless!

  31. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    “In the latter, the deacon is properly kneeling along with everyone else except the celebrant (and concelebrants if applicable)…”

    Sorry, but this practice I will never understand. We bow and extend our orarion towards the diskos and the chalice with the separate Words of Institution. We perform a full metany after the Epiclesis, but with the priest(s). The notion that deacons should be kneeling at the Anaphora, specifically the Consecration, is a bit foreign and seems to demean the role of the deacon, which includes standing at the Altar with the priest. He is not a layman or even a cleric in Minor Orders, but rather stands just one rank below the presbyter. Of course, in the East deacons are often referred to as “concelebrants” with the priest, but obviously we do not consecrate!

    Perhaps this practice of making the deacon kneel with the laity could be explained a bit more…

  32. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Of course, I forgot to mention, as was said above, that an additional responsibility for the Byzantine deacon is to elevate the diskos and the chalice moving it over the Altar Table in the form of a cross after the Words of Institution but before the Epiclesis.

  33. On the subject of preaching: just because someone is ordained to preach doesn’t mean that they’re actually any good at it, or even competent. That goes for bishops and priests as much as it does for deacons. I’ve heard enough forgettable homilies given by all of them — and some great ones given by all of them. It depends on the man doing it, and his gifts, not on his level of orders.

    Not everybody can tap dance, either.

  34. MAJ Tony says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    Understand that in the Usus Antiquor even a Priest in choro, or acting as a Deacon, kneels for communion. Only the Priest-celebrant stands when partaking, and that after genuflecting.

  35. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    MAJ Tony,

    Thank you for mentioning that. I suppose I can understand a Priest in choro kneeling since he is not vested to concelebrate (and the Usus Antiquor does not allow for concelebration, except on one’s ordination day). But a Deacon who vested to serve? What is the rationale for him (or them) to kneel?

    Again, just trying to understand the liturgical rationale here, especially since I am told that even in the Ordo of Paul VI the GIRM specifies that Deacons are to kneel.

  36. We have a wonderful deacon in our parish. He is an outstanding preacher (I’ve heard priests comment favorably on his preaching), he has no qualms whatsoever about tackling controversial matters like abortion, non-marital sexual relationship, etc., he is active in adult faith formation, and he participates in Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction.

    We’re blessed!

  37. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    May I also say that eagerly wait to hear from the Holy Father that an upcoming year will be named “The Year of the Deacon” to explore and emphasize the diaconal charism in the life and mission of the Church and to address the drastic shortage of deacons in the Church!

  38. mike cliffson says:

    cf
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/tarcis.htm
    St Tarisus. First recorded extraordinary minister: Necessary in extraordinary circumstances (q.v., ut supra) to take communion to prisoners, got martyred as a direct result. Takers?

  39. robtbrown says:

    Fr Deacon Daniel,

    The Scriptural origin of the diaconate has nothing to do with liturgy but rather originated for pastoral reasons. Although it’s fine to acknowledge the liturgical role of deacons, liturgy is not the primary reason they exist.

    That is why I think that the permanent diaconate should only be open to men whose occupation is ecclesial (e.g., DRE, Prof of Church history, head of Catholic Services) or to those who are retired and can devote their working hours to the life of the Church. I also think that deacons should wear clerical clothes and be obligated to the entire Divine Office.

    It makes no sense for the Church to emphasize the importance of the diaconate, then have permanent deacons who are little else than lay ministers.

  40. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Rob,

    You wrote:

    “The Scriptural origin of the diaconate has nothing to do with liturgy but rather originated for pastoral reasons. Although it’s fine to acknowledge the liturgical role of deacons, liturgy is not the primary reason they exist.”

    St. Ignatius of Antioch has a different view:

    “The deacons too, who are ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, should please all in every way; for they are not servants of food and drink, but ministers of the Church of God.”

    “Correspondingly show the deacon respect. They represent Jesus Christ, just as the bishop has the role of the Father, and the presbyters are like God’s council and an apostolic band. You cannot have a church without these.”

    Also, I would caution you not to divorce the liturgical dimension of ministry from the pastoral dimension. The role of the deacon in the Liturgy should parallel his service in the common life of the parish, guiding, serving and animating the faithful especially through the works of mercy. The same is true for all ordained ministries.

    And the magisterium and laws of the Church do not agree with your desire to limit the occupation of the deacon to employment in and by the Church, as it has mentioned on numerous occasions that a deacon can engage in secular employment, highlighting the many benefits of a clergyman serving also in the marketplace.

    The decision as to what obliges regarding praying the whole Office has been left to the Bishop’s Conferences. In the US, we are encouraged to pray the whole Office but only obligated to pray Morning and Evening Prayer. I am told by experts in the diaconate that other conferences in other countries do require their deacons to pray the whole Office daily.

    As to wearing clericals, I agree that this should be a requirement of our Ordo when engaged in ministry, but not normally in our work in the world (for those employed in a secular field).

    God bless!

  41. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Theresa said, “Isn’t a permanent deacon considered the “minister of the cup?”

    Indeed, in 1 Timothy 3:9, the Bible tells us that deacons should be holders of the “Mysterium fidei”, that is, of the chalice of the blood of the Lord.

  42. robtbrown says:

    Fr Deacon Daniel,

    1. NB: my ID is robtbrown. Robt is an abbreviation for Robert.

    2. Nothing you wrote, including the text from St Ignatius of Antioch, contradicts what I said. Once again: In Scripture the origin of the diaconate is pastoral.

    3. I neither denied the liturgical function of the diaconate nor its link to pastoral duties. On the contract, I affirmed both. In fact, the link of the liturgy to the pastoral life is to be found in SC no. 7, a text I have mentioned this more than once on this blog. You might want to re-read what I wrote above.

    And the magisterium and laws of the Church do not agree with your desire to limit the occupation of the deacon to employment in and by the Church, as it has mentioned on numerous occasions that a deacon can engage in secular employment, highlighting the many benefits of a clergyman serving also in the marketplace.

    I am well aware that secular professions are permitted acc to the Ratio Fundamentalis (1998) from the Sacred Congregation of the Clergy, but such norms are not to be taken as a statement of the Magisterium, which is the teaching office of the Church. Those are disciplinary norms, not doctrinal ones.

    I am also well aware of the permission of the US bishops conference re the Divine Office, dress, etc.

    What I am saying is that there is inconsistency to affirm strongly the clerical nature of the diaconate, yet permit a life that is only partially clerical. You might already know that Opus Dei, founded as an institute for the laity with its members active in the workplace (incl numeraries), has no permanent deacons.

    You might recall the post WWII worker-priest movement in France, which was mercifully ended.

  43. robtbrown says:

    Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Indeed, in 1 Timothy 3:9, the Bible tells us that deacons should be holders of the “Mysterium fidei”, that is, of the chalice of the blood of the Lord.

    Huh?

  44. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Robert,

    Thanks for clarifying your name. I had supposed that “T” was a middle initial.

    This was your original sentence:

    “The Scriptural origin of the diaconate has nothing to do with liturgy but rather originated for pastoral reasons. Although it’s fine to acknowledge the liturgical role of deacons, liturgy is not the primary reason they exist.”

    Evidence of a liturgical component to diaconal ministry does exist in Scripture, such as with the case such as with Philip baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch (cf. Acts 8:26-40). The traditional verses associated with the institution of the diaconate (Acts 6) culminating in the bold witness of the proto-martyr Stephen, relate that 7 men were chosen by the people and ordained by the apostles for service at the “tables”. Some see in this an early testament to the agape feast, which is itself an extension of the Eucharistic banquet. The apostles were presiding over both, but could not continue to do so given the significant growth of the Jerusalem Church and the incorporation of the Hellenists.

    So it is not clear at all that liturgy has “nothing to do” with the Scriptural origins of the diaconate, as you say. It also did not take long for associations to be made with this Ordo to their Mosaic covenant antecedents in the Levitical priesthood, something I believe noted by St. Clement of Rome in his Epistle, which has obvious liturgical implications. Obviously just because something is not explicitly stated in Scripture (the deacons exercised a liturgical ministry) is not an argument against there being a key liturgical dimension to their service from the time of the apostles.

    Further evidence of this is given in the testimony of those who were in fact disciples of the apostles, such as the passage from St. Ignatius of Antioch who refers to deacons as “ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ” coupled with “ministers of the Church of God.” the additional quote I provided also bears witness to this early tradition:

    “Correspondingly show the deacon respect. They represent Jesus Christ, just as the bishop has the role of the Father, and the presbyters are like God’s council and an apostolic band. You cannot have a church without these.”

    The implications here for the diaconate are clearly liturgical AND pastoral, especially considering the Eucharistic Ecclesiology of St. Ignatius.

    Moreover in the Didache, which is believed to antedate Ignatius’ letters, we see this paragraph:

    “Appoint bishops (episkopi) for yourselves, as well as deacons (diakonia), worthy of the Lord, of meek disposition, unattached to money, truthful and proven; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers.”

    This dyadic model of bishop-deacon (also seen in 1 Timothy 3) demonstrates that the two forms of New Covenant priesthood – episcopal/sacerdotal and diaconal exercised a ministry in common that flowed from the source and summit of the Church’s life, the Eucharistic banquet, to her common life. The deacon assisted the bishop, as he does today, in ALL aspects related to Church life. So the reduction of the deacon to a charitable Christian Social Worker in Scripture would be quite out of step with the early Church’s notion of the deacon’s ministry, although charity is a vital dimension of that ministry.

    Regarding secular employment and the Divine Office, I realized that you were just sharing your very legitimate opinion. As a deacon, I tend to agree with the various norms set out by the Church on these matters.

    “What I am saying is that there is inconsistency to affirm strongly the clerical nature of the diaconate, yet permit a life that is only partially clerical. You might already know that Opus Dei, founded as an institute for the laity with its members active in the workplace (incl numeraries), has no permanent deacons.”

    And yet, there is also the practical purpose of the churches not being able to financially support a deacon and his family. And even if the deacon was celibate, it might well be beyond the means of a parish to support him financially. So while I think it is ideal to have a deacon working full time for a parish, that is not at all practical, and so like St. Paul, himself a “cleric,” tentmaking at times becomes something of a necessity.

  45. catholicmidwest says:

    robtbrown, you said, “It makes no sense for the Church to emphasize the importance of the diaconate, then have permanent deacons who are little else than lay ministers.” I agree with you 100%.

    Yet, when something that requires a little elbow grease needs doing, someone needs practical help with the Christian life, where are they?

  46. Hans says:

    … the deacon in training is so busy he doesn’t sleep in the parish, …

    Amen to that, Suburbanbanshee. And I thought I gave my students a lot of work to do …

    Very interesting discussion, but one question gnaws at me: Fr Deacon Daniel, would you be so kind as to explain your title? I’m not familiar with it.

  47. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Hans,

    Sure. Briefly, the traditional address for deacons in the Eastern Catholic (and Orthodox) Churches is “Fr. Deacon.” Both deacons and priests are icons of the bishop’s fatherhood, but in different ways. The priest is the icon of the bishop’s sacerdotal fatherhood as shepherd in the parish, while the deacon is the icon of the bishop’s kenotic fatherhood as servant in the parish. These two Ordos represent distinct forms of pastoral leadership delegated by the bishop through ordination and appointment.

    Priest and deacon together are jointly collaborators with their bishop and are like the two hands of the bishop, to borrow in a limited way the Trinitarian imagery of St. Irenaeus. And just as there exists a “ranking” of our hands with one hand being predominant (this is where the Trinitarian image ends!), so the ranking of the “right hand” (the priest) is higher than the “left hand” (the deacon.) And just as the right hand cannot say to the left “I do not need you” and the left hand cannot say to the right “I do not need you.” priests and deacons must work together to serve the bishop’s mission as father to his parish (the body), with the left hand being servant to both the head and the right hand to accomplish these tasks.

    I was told once that the Bishop’s Conference had considered adopting the title “Fr. Deacon” for Latin Deacons here in the US. I have heard from some brother deacons that they wish they had. As Father Z has stated there is no other title more precious than “Father,” and it is a humbling reminder of our service in the name of the bishop to his spiritual children.

    Hope that helps! God bless.

  48. Hans says:

    It does help, thank you. The ideas are familiar, of course, but I appreciate the clear and succinct way you explain it. (We had a six hour session one Saturday to say pretty much the same thing, apart from the title.)

  49. catholicmidwest says:

    Sorry, I’m not going to call a deacon “father.” Not happening.

  50. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    catholicmidwest,

    “Sorry, I’m not going to call a deacon “father.” Not happening.”

    I understand, but it does not change what I and the brothers in my Ordo are, and what those in apostolic succession under whose authority I serve desire that my ordained brothers and I in the Eastern Churches be called. The fact that you have personal issues acknowledging it matters little.

  51. catholicmidwest says:

    If it matters little, then you won’t mind if I abstain from calling deacons “father.” I’m in the Latin Rite and we don’t do that.

  52. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    That is correct, and since I interface with Latins on a frequent basis, I respond to both “Fr. Deacon” and “Deacon” although some Latins (including some brother deacons!) use the full and proper title as our bishop’s have instructed.

    Where it matters (for you) is if you mean it as a way to disrespect the diaconate – mine or anyone else’s. The Lord would not be pleased with such a motivation. If it is simply a matter of what is familiar and comfortable to you as a faithful Latin Catholic, I certainly would not have any issue.

  53. deaconnecessary says:

    Well said, Fr. Deacon. Well said!

  54. robtbrown says:

    Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Evidence of a liturgical component to diaconal ministry does exist in Scripture, such as with the case such as with Philip baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch (cf. Acts 8:26-40).

    During my Roman years I was often invited by friends of the Eastern Rite to attend one of their liturgies. It never referred to Baptism, which of course can be administered by anyone.

    The traditional verses associated with the institution of the diaconate (Acts 6) culminating in the bold witness of the proto-martyr Stephen, relate that 7 men were chosen by the people and ordained by the apostles for service at the “tables”. Some see in this an early testament to the agape feast, which is itself an extension of the Eucharistic banquet. The apostles were presiding over both, but could not continue to do so given the significant growth of the Jerusalem Church and the incorporation of the Hellenists.

    By definition, the agape meal (or feast) is not liturgical. And priests often preside over parish pot luck dinners–that doesn’t make them liturgical.

    So it is not clear at all that liturgy has “nothing to do” with the Scriptural origins of the diaconate, as you say. It also did not take long for associations to be made with this Ordo to their Mosaic covenant antecedents in the Levitical priesthood, something I believe noted by St. Clement of Rome in his Epistle, which has obvious liturgical implications. Obviously just because something is not explicitly stated in Scripture (the deacons exercised a liturgical ministry) is not an argument against to their service from the time of the apostles.

    I never argued against “there being a key liturgical dimension” to the diaconate. I said that according to Scripture it is not the primary reason for it existence.

    NB: What I am opposing is the practice in the US that permanent deacons often only function at mass.

    Further evidence of this is given in the testimony of those who were in fact disciples of the apostles, such as the passage from St. Ignatius of Antioch who refers to deacons as “ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ” coupled with “ministers of the Church of God.” the additional quote I provided also bears witness to this early tradition:

    I never said that the diaconate was not one of the 7 grades of Order . I said that in Scripture the origin of the diaconate is not liturgical. Your Patristic citations do nothing to refute that.

    “Correspondingly show the deacon respect. They represent Jesus Christ, just as the bishop has the role of the Father, and the presbyters are like God’s council and an apostolic band. You cannot have a church without these.”

    The implications here for the diaconate are clearly liturgical AND pastoral, especially considering the Eucharistic Ecclesiology of St. Ignatius.

    Moreover in the Didache, which is believed to antedate Ignatius’ letters, we see this paragraph:

    “Appoint bishops (episkopi) for yourselves, as well as deacons (diakonia), worthy of the Lord, of meek disposition, unattached to money, truthful and proven; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers.”

    This dyadic model of bishop-deacon (also seen in 1 Timothy 3) demonstrates that the two forms of New Covenant priesthood – episcopal/sacerdotal and diaconal exercised a ministry in common that flowed from the source and summit of the Church’s life, the Eucharistic banquet, to her common life. The deacon assisted the bishop, as he does today, in ALL aspects related to Church life. So the reduction of the deacon to a charitable Christian Social Worker in Scripture would be quite out of step with the early Church’s notion of the deacon’s ministry, although charity is a vital dimension of that ministry.

    Superb citations, all of which confirm my position, that it is appropriate to the nature of the diaconate that a the deacon should not be living a partial clerical life.

    Regarding secular employment and the Divine Office, I realized that you were just sharing your very legitimate opinion. As a deacon, I tend to agree with the various norms set out by the Church on these matters.

    As a theologian, I think those norms are not consistent with clerical life.

    “What I am saying is that there is inconsistency to affirm strongly the clerical nature of the diaconate, yet permit a life that is only partially clerical. You might already know that Opus Dei, founded as an institute for the laity with its members active in the workplace (incl numeraries), has no permanent deacons.”

    And yet, there is also the practical purpose of the churches not being able to financially support a deacon and his family. And even if the deacon was celibate, it might well be beyond the means of a parish to support him financially.

    Your comment merely confirms what I wrote earlier: That the permanent diaconate has become little else than another lay ministry.

    So while I think it is ideal to have a deacon working full time for a parish, that is not at all practical, and so like St. Paul, himself a “cleric,” tentmaking at times becomes something of a necessity.

    I never said that it was “ideal” (a word I avoid) to have a deacon working full time for a parish. I mentioned certain possibilities that accommodate the clerical life, among which are DRE (which is not only parochial but also diocesan), prof of Church history, and head of Catholic services as examples.

    Paul’s tentmaking is a bad example, simply because was constantly on the move.

  55. robtbrown says:

    It is the practice at Fontgombault that deacons are called “father”. The priests are usually addressed as “Dom”.

  56. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Robert,

    “During my Roman years I was often invited by friends of the Eastern Rite to attend one of their liturgies. It never referred to Baptism, which of course can be administered by anyone.”

    True, we Eastern Catholics reserve the actual administration of Baptism to the sacerdotal ministry of the priest (something I actually favor…a deacon’s charism is not traditionally presidential in nature, and that includes blessing marriages and even funerals, except in dire need and with the bishop’s permission). That said the deacon’s role in the celebration of baptism is prominent, even more in the early Church with the administration of Chrismation. While it is true that anyone can baptize, to my knowledge their is no evidence in Scripture of the laity baptizing after Pentecost. So it does point to a liturgical role for the deacon, assuming we do not want to reduce liturgy to the Divine Liturgy.

    “By definition, the agape meal (or feast) is not liturgical. And priests often preside over parish pot luck dinners–that doesn’t make them liturgical.”

    The agape was never simply a “pot luck” and most certainly was a liturgical meal and an extension of the Divine Liturgy.

    Even so, does it make any sense whatsoever that the deacon who was the assistant of the bishop would have no role liturgically when the bishop’s principal role was presiding over the Eucharist? Again, thankfully as Catholics we do not rely solely upon the data of Scripture to supply our understanding of the Church and her ministries. And my point in citing the patristic quotations was to demonstrate that, whatever restrictive interpretation you wish to apply to the “serving at tables” (aka the “potluck”) it bears little resemblance to how disciples and writers within the lifetime of the apostles understood their ministry.

    “Superb citations, all of which confirm my position, that it is appropriate to the nature of the diaconate that a the deacon should not be living a partial clerical life.”

    I think an argument could certainly be made for requiring the full Divine Office for the deacon, as it is done for priests. The prudential discernment and decision of the US bishop’s conference calls for a modification of this requirement for deacons. That certainly does not preclude us from going beyond what is merely required. It only means that the obligation to pray the remainder of the hours does not have the force of law, and perhaps a more generous use of the Divine Praises should be encouraged within the Ordo.

    “As a theologian, I think those norms are not consistent with clerical life.”

    As a clergyman, I disagree.

    But I will say that it is an accommodation to a particular situation which I referenced, that being the fact that the jobs that you reference are not exactly plentiful and (as I mentioned) not all parishes can support a FT deacon.

    Also Paul’s “tentmaking” and laboring to support himself financially is a very appropriate example.

    As St. Paul says, “we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:8).

    In his address to the elders of the Church of Ephesus he says: “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:32-35). (See also Acts 18:1-3.)

    “Your comment merely confirms what I wrote earlier: That the permanent diaconate has become little else than another lay ministry.”

    I’m unclear how you can assert this. Because a deacon must find his own means of financial support so that the parish does not bear that financial burden his ministry is a type of “lay ministry”? Your logic is difficult to follow, especially considering the duties of the deacon, some of which since Vatican II have become quasi-sacerdotal and presidential in my opinion.

    Now this quote I find very interesting:

    “NB: What I am opposing is the practice in the US that permanent deacons often only function at mass.”

    You and I agree here very much so. It is a grave error to reduce the diaconal ministry to purely a liturgical function, and I would include in that the recent additions of the liturgies of baptisms, marriages and funerals. In fact, I have heard complaints from my brother deacons that these additional responsibilities dominate their time and leave little time for them to engage in the other vital dimensions of diaconal ministry.

    That said, I think that certain aspects of the deacon’s role in the Mass of the Latin Church has been improperly given over to the laity when a deacon is present. I have even seen a priest proclaim while serving with a deacon! He has a well defined ministry in the liturgy which needs to be respected.

  57. Katherine says:

    I might add that in the Byzantine tradition, though there may be half a dozen priests and no deacon, it is forbidden to dress up one of the Priests to act as Deacon pro-tem,

    I have long thought this is one of the least defensible aspects of the TLM.

  58. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    “I have long thought this is one of the least defensible aspects of the TLM.”

    Amen.

    It is one thing to have a priest sing the parts of the deacon (as is frequently done when no deacon is present.) But to vest as a deacon? I try to envision Byzantine bishops and priests vesting as deacons and serving that way in the Divine Liturgy. Can’t do it…not gonna happen. An Ordo is an Ordo is an Ordo.

    There is a recent post on this subject below, but the com box does not appear to be working.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/01/a-priests-first-time-out-as-deacon-for-a-solemn-tlm/#comments