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

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Diaconate - Part Three - Today

Since the Diaconate has been restored in the Catholic Church after Vatican II, key details on its place within the spiritual life of the Church can be found expressed in several important Church documents.

The GIRM [General Instruction of the Roman Missal] notes the following responsibilities of the Deacon in the Mass - to proclaim the Gospel, assist priest in distributing Communion and purifying the sacred vessels, and dismiss the people at the end of Mass [59, 90, 171] The deacon may also give the homily, offer the intentions, and assist in the breaking of the bread, [66, 71, 83]

The Code of Canon Law notes other liturgical roles for the deacon - celebrate the rite of baptism, preside at the exposition and benediction of the Eucharist, officiate at a marriage outside of Mass [861, 943, 1116].

Lumen Gentium no.29 further mentions that deacons may bring Viaticum to the dying, instruct the people, admister sacramentals and officiate at funeral and burial services.

A deacon may also offer any of the blessings contained within the Book of Blessings in which it is explicitly stated that they may be given by the deacon.

As you can see, the deacon has many responsibilities of service and evangelization in the Church expressed both within and outside of the Liturgy. This is why it is so important that the deacon persevere in faithfulness and moral uprightness so as to ably excercise his office among the people of God.

I close with the words of St. Ignatius in his epistle to the Magnesians:

...the deacons also are most dear to me, having been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the worlds and appeared at the end of time.


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