February 14, 2017
The Diaconate is the 1
st of three degrees in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Presbyterate (priests) and Episcopacy (bishops) are the 2
nd and 3
rd degrees, respectively. Men in the diaconate are called deacons, and the Catechism of the Church states that they “share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint ("character") which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the "deacon" or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity” (CCC, 1570). Deacons are also ordinary ministers of baptism.
There are two types of deacons who share in the Diaconal ministry:
transitional deacons &
permanent deacons. Transitional deacons are men ordained to the diaconate for a period before their ordination as priests. All priests are deacons: they simply have another degree of ordination imprinted on their character. Likewise, all bishops are priests: they have received the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Permanent deacons are men who desire to serve the Church as a deacon for the rest of their lives. Permanent deacons may be married before ordination to the diaconate, but they take a promise of chastity at ordination so that they cannot marry or re-marry after ordination. Like all celibates, the ‘imprint’ of ordination means they are ordained unto Christ as clergy for eternity! This permanent character makes their lives signs of eternal life where “they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30).
Pray for an increase of men to respond to Christ’s call to serve the faithful as deacons, priests, and bishops!