Lesson in Faith: Deacon's Role in the Church
by Deacon Ray Brown
Moody AFB Catholic Faith Community
As part of our new program for Adult Catholic Education, I have written a brief information paper about what a deacon is and does. Hopefully, more articles will be forthcoming in the future as we attempt to answer questions concerning how and why we practice our faith.
Forty three years ago, in 1964, in article 29 of its dogmatic constitution on the Church, (Lumen gentium), the Second Vatican Council asked Paul VI to restore the permanent diaconate in the Latin Church. The Pope did so on 18 June 1967 by publishing an apostolic letter permitting bishops to request that the Holy See allow the ordination of celibate and married men permanently to the diaconate within their territory.
There are two kinds of deacons in the Catholic Church. The transitional deacon, who is preparing for priesthood, and the permanent deacon, a deeply spiritual and prudent man, who after years of study and training, assists the Pastor and serves the Church and its people. Permanent deacons are ordained clergy who serve as representatives of Jesus Christ. We minister to God's church. We must be male, at least 35 years old and may be either married or single. We are clerics and strengthened by the sacramental grace of our ordination we have as our service to the people of God, ministry of the liturgy, of the Gospel, and of works of charity. We are the guardian of the true treasures of the Church -- the Body and the Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ and the people of his church
The deacon's role is as follows:
1. To assist the bishop and priests during liturgical services in regard to all those matters assigned to the deacon by the liturgical books for the various rights;
2. To administer baptism solemnly;
3. To reserve the Eucharist and to give communion to himself and others, to bring viaticum to the dying; to give benediction with the monstrance or ciborium;
4. To assist marriage in the name of the Church, when no priest is available and, with the bishop's or pastor's delegation, to impart the nuptial blessing...
5. To administer sacramentals and preside at funerals and burial rites;
6. To read the books of Scripture to the faithful, to instruct and exhort the congregation;
7. To preside at offices of worship and prayer services, when no priest is available;
8. To lead celebrations of the word, especially in places where there is a lack of priest and to serve Holy Mother the Church through the example of their lives and their ministries of Word, service, and charity.
By struggling in Christ's name with the myriad needs of societies and persons, deacons exemplify the interdependence of worship and service in the Church's life. We try to reveal the servant hood of Christ in which the people of our communities are invited to share.
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