QUAERITUR: Deacons and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

From a reader:

A deacon did Benediction at our parish today (full-fledged, cope and all.) Is that legitimate?
Yes, in the Latin Church deacons, transitional or permanent, can preside at, give, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  They dress in their choir dress (cassock, surplice) surmounted by a diaconal stole an cope.  A biretta would be used to come to the sanctuary of the Blessed Sacrament is not already exposed, and to leave the sanctuary.

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13 Responses to QUAERITUR: Deacons and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

  1. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Sorry, I’m not getting this. So the deacon can wear a biretta and that allows him to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle? I thought only the Priest could touch that and put it in the Monstrace with the special cloak that goes over his hands to hold it?

  2. biberin says:

    When our priest is out of town, our deacon celebrates Exposition and Benediction to open our weekly Adoration. He pulls out all the stops and it is a gorgeous service with Latin and incense. He uses the humeral veil for Benediction, but not for removing the luna from the tabernacle and placing it into the monstrance. We also have Benediction after Stations of the Cross in Lent, which happens during the school day, so the parish school children get to participate and see just how glorious it can be.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    Considering some parishes have more deacons than priests, there should much more Eucharistic Exposition/Adoration/Benediction!

  4. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Young Canadian RC Male,

    Actually, we deacons are ordained ministers of the Church and much of our responsibility as far as the altar is concerned centers around the handling and distribution of “Holy Things.” In fact, at one time, it was commonly regarded as principally the diaconal responsibility to distribute the Eucharist to the faithful. In the Western rite, the priest’s hands are specifically consecrated for blessing people and things, absolving sins, anointing the sick and consecrating the Holy Eucharist. While this is not done in the Byzantine tradition, both the deacon and the priest wear cuffs with crosses on them. The deacon’s set are blessed by the priest before services, indicating that his hands are blessed to engage in his diaconal tasks in the altar area.

    As far as benediction by a deacon, the Christian East tends to take a very dim view to deacons presiding at any service, including baptisms, marriages and (if we had them) Benediction. We are not allowed to bless objects or people either. The nature of our Ordo is not presidential, leading in the same way that a presbyter presides, but rather our leadership is kenotic and diaconal.

  5. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    “While this is not done in the Byzantine tradition…”

    Just to clarify, I meant the specific anointing of the hands of the priest does not occur in the rite of ordination.

  6. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Not just deacons, either:

    In the same extraordinary circumstances an acolyte may be entrusted with publicly exposing the blessed sacrament for adoration by the faithful and afterward replacing it, but not with blessing the people.
    - Ministeria Quaedam, Para. 9, Sec. 6.

  7. David2 says:

    From the Code of Canon Law:

    Can. 943 The minister of exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament and of eucharistic benediction is a priest or deacon; in special circumstances, the minister of exposition and reposition alone without benediction is the acolyte, extraordinary minister of holy communion, or someone else designated by the local ordinary; the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are to be observed.

  8. RichR says:

    I wonder how often “special circumstances” is loosely translated to include “anyone who wants to do it”. As is the case in many of our liturgical settings, the de jure exception can easily become the de facto norm.

    Look at:
    Altar girls – a concession, and now we see more girls than boys
    Extraordinary [sic] Ministers of Holy Communion
    Communion in the Hand – an indult that is now the “norm”
    All-Vernacular Masses with little/no Latin – I’m preaching to the choir here at wdtprs.com
    Propers of the Mass …most would ask, “What are those?” They’re the first choice of music for Mass.
    pipe organs (“held in high esteem”) …..only when dusted off for weddings. Most hear guitars.
    Gregorian chant (“pride of place”?)……in a museum.

    The exceptions have become the norms. And all according to the law.

  9. Pachomius says:

    Better that it is done by a deacon, than attempted by a lay person. It may not be typical, but it does at least keep handling of the Sacrament in the realm of ordained ministers.

  10. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Keep in mind the distinctions between “Exposition” and “Benediction.” Canon 943 indicates that in extraordinary circumstances an EME or someone with specific authorization from the local bishop a lay person can do “exposition” and “reposition” but never “benediction.”

    Acolytes can do this without specific permission, so it appears. But finding an official acolyte is tantamount to finding the proverbial needle in the ecclesiastical haystack. Minor Orders and especially subdiaconate need to make a comeback, IMHO. But I digress…

  11. FXR2 says:

    Hey, why not allow the Deacon to conduct Benediction and adoration on Saturday afternoon while the Priest hears confessions. Talk about divide and conquer. This might actually catch on.

    fxr2

  12. Centristian says:

    “Can. 943 The minister of exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament and of eucharistic benediction is a priest or deacon; in special circumstances, the minister of exposition and reposition alone without benediction is the acolyte, extraordinary minister of holy communion, or someone else designated by the local ordinary; the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are to be observed.”

    What sort of “special circumstances”, I wonder, did they have in mind? If there were not a priest or deacon available to preside at exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, wouldn’t the solution be to not have exposition? I’m attempting but failing to imagine such a pressing need for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, so pressing in fact that a layman would be called upon (by whom?) to do it.

  13. Alice says:

    Centristian,
    In the parish where I used to work, we had regularly scheduled Exposition. In the rare event that Father couldn’t be there, the gentleman preparing for the diaconate would do it instead of canceling. Right now he’s an instituted acolyte, so he can only expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament, but when he is ordained, the parish will be able to have Benediction as well.