The Order of the Diaconate (Deacon)May the peace of Christ be with you and yours.
Introduction to Holy OrdersMinistry means "service." The Church is the People of God (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, II) who engage in a variety of ministries (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 18; Decree on Ecumenism, n. 2). All human beings, by Baptism, share in the ministry of Christ as prophet, priest, and king. "Everything which has been said so far concerning the People of God applies equally to the laity, religious, and clergy." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, nn. 30). We limit our conversation here to the ministry of Orders wherein the presbyter and bishop integrate and coordinate the various ministries with the deacon serving each. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 30; Decrees on the Bishops' Pastoral Office in the Church, n. 17).
In the early church there existed not only many different types of ministry but also different ways in which individuals exercised these ministries. These ministries we may view in two broad strokes: missionary ministries which apostles, prophets, and teachers exercised and residential ministries which presbyters exercised in Jewish-Christian communities and bishops and deacons exercised in Gentile-Christian communities.
Hence, the Orders of the Episcopate, Presbyterate, and Diaconate are ministries and not so-called canonical states-in-life. In contemporary Catholic theology, the ordained ministry is one of ministry or service, leadership, preaching the word, the minister's representational aspects, and the traditional ontological and cultic dimensions. (The preceding edited from Catholicism, Richard P. McBrien, ISBN0-06-065405-8, pp. 776-8, 770, 772, 876).
To explain these ministries, we offer you from The Roman Pontifical, the slight editions, the ordaining bishop's homily to and the Prayer of Consecration over the ordinand.
These human beings, your relatives and friends, are now to be raised to the order of deacon. Consider carefully the ministry to which they are to be promoted.
They will draw new strength from the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will help the bishop and his body of priests as ministers of the word, of the altar, and of charity and compassion. They will make themselves servants to all. As ministers of the altar they will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice, and give the Lord's body and blood to the community of believers.
It will also be their duty, at the bishop's discretion, to bring God's word to believer and unbeliever alike, to preside over public prayer, to baptize, to assist at marriages and bless them, to give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial. Once they are consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes to us from the apostles and are bound more closely to the altar, they will perform works of charity in the name of the bishop or the pastor. From the way they go about these duties, may you recognize them as disciples of Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.
My children, you are being raised to the order of deacons. The Lord has set an example for you to follow.
As deacons you will serve Jesus Christ, who was known among his disciples as the one who served others. Do the will of God generously. Serve God and humankind in love and joy. Look upon all unchastity and avarice as worship of false gods; for no human being can serve two masters.
Like the people the apostles chose for works of charity, you should be human beings of good reputation, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Show before God and humankind that you are above every suspicion of blame, true ministers of Christ and God's mysteries, humans firmly rooted in faith. Never turn away from the hope which the Gospel offers; now you must not only listen to God's word but also preach it. Hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience. Express in action what you proclaim by word of mouth. Then the people of Christ, brought to life by the Spirit, will be an offering God accepts. Finally, on the last day, when you go to meet the Lord, you will hear him say: "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord."
PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Almighty God, be present with us by your power. You are the source of all honor, you assign to each one's rank, you give to each one's ministry.
You remain unchanged, but you watch over all creation and make it new through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord: he is your Word, your power, and your wisdom. You foresee all things in your eternal providence and make due provision for every age. You make the Church, Christ's body, grow to its full stature as a new and greater temple. You enrich it with every kind of grave and perfect it with a diversity of members to serve the whole body in a wonderful pattern of unity.
You established a threefold ministry of worship and service for the glory of your name. As ministers of your tabernacle you chose the sons of Levi and gave them your blessing as their everlasting inheritance. In the first days of your Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the apostles of your Son appointed seven people of goof repute to assist them in the daily ministry, so that they themselves might be more free for prayer and preaching. By prayer and the laying on of hands the apostles entrusted to those chosen people the ministry of serving at tables.
Lord, look with favor on these servants of yours, whom we now dedicate to the office of deacon, to minister at your holy altar.
Lord, send forth upon them the Holy Spirit, that they may be strengthened by the gift of your sevenfold grace to carry out faithfully the work of the ministry. May they excel in every virtue: in love that is sincere, in concern for the sick and the poor, in unassuming authority, in self-discipline, and in holiness of life. May their conduct exemplify your commandments and lead your people to imitate their purity of life. May they remain strong and steadfast in Christ, giving to the world the witness of a pure conscience. May they in this life imitate your son, who came, not to be served but to serve, and one day reign with him in heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
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