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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Diaconate - Part Four - The Liturgy

As I head out today for my ordination to the Diaconate tomorrow, I want to end my series on the Diaconate with a few comments on the ordination liturgy.

The ordination takes place during Mass and progresses in this fashion. The candidates for the Diaconate are presented to the bishop who asks whether the candidates are worthy. The friar in charge of formation then announces that the candidates have indeed been found worthy.

After the homily, the bishop speaks on the importance of the Diaconate, including the following words:

These men, your relatives and friends, are now to be raised to the order of deacons. Consider carefully the ministry to which they are promoted.

They will draw new strength from the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will help the bishop and his body of priests as a minister of the word, of the altar, and of charity. They will make themselves a servant 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.

Next the bishop addresses each candidate for the Diaconate:

My sons, you are being raised to the order of deacons. The Lord has set an example for you to follow.

As deacons you will serve the Jesus Christ, who was known among his disciples as the one who served others. Do the will of God generously. Serve God and mankind in love and joy. Look upon all unchastity and avarice as worship of false gods; for no man can serve two masters.

Like the men the apostles chose for works of charity, you should be men of good reputation, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Show before God and mankind that you are above every suspicion of blame, true ministers of Christ and of God's mysteries, men 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."

At this time the candidate makes a declaration of his intention to live a life of celibacy, to faithfully live out the responsibilities of the office of deacon, and obedience to his bishop and the bishop's successors.

After the recitation of the Litany of Saints, the bishop lays hands on the candidates and prays:

Almighty God, be present with us by your power. You are the source of all honor, you assign to each his rank, you give to each his ministry. You remain unchanged, but you watch over all creation and make it new through you Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord: he is your Word, your power, and your wisdom. You forsee 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. Your enrich it with every kind of grace and perfect it with a diversity of member 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 day of your Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the apostles of your Son appointed seven men of Good 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 men the ministry of serving at tables.

Lord, send forth upon them the Holy Spirit, that they may be strengthened by the gift of the 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 in life. May their conduct exemplify your commandment 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. Amen.

Finally, the candidates are invested with the dalmatic and the stole, the signs of their new office and given the book of the Gospels signifing their responsibility to preach the Word of God.

Ministry, evangelism, faithfulness and uprightness these are the gifts and responsibilities of the Diaconate, pray that the Lord might give the the grace to live them.


Anonymous Noah said...


First off - congratulations. This is a big step. I wish you the full love and grace of the Lord tomorrow. I had a few comments on your Diaconate series. Our parish has been blessed with two deacons (although only one is active in the masses). In your fourth post on the ceramony you mentioned "[a]t this time the candidate makes a declaration of his intention to live a life of celibacy." Obviously there are deacons who are married (as both of ours are) but I seem to remember reading that once you become a deacon you cannot marry or remarry. Is this correct? Is the declaration you mention only included due to the order you belong and not part of the regular diaconate ceramony?

On a side note we saw the Star Wars movie and Darth Sideous did not remind me of you at all...

12:35 AM  

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