Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 18 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Maria Anna Blondin

How often should deacons preach?

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 05/17/17

This question popped up via CNS, and was answered by the Rev. Kenneth Doyle:

Q. My question has to do with the role of a deacon. Our own parish deacon had been preaching at our weekend Masses once a month, but lately that has crept up to twice a month. Recently he preached the homily at Masses on Easter Sunday and also on the following Sunday, which happened to be first Communion in our parish.Our priest-pastor is young and, as far as I know, healthy. Is it normal for a deacon to play such a large role so frequently, especially on such important occasions? (City of origin withheld) A. There is no exact guideline as to the frequency of a deacon’s preaching. That having been said, I think that your concern stands on good ground. Deacons are authorized to preach by the church’s Code of Canon Law; Canon 764 says that “presbyters (priests) and deacons possess the faculty of preaching everywhere.” And while that canon expresses no preference or priority, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (which is the official liturgical “rule book” of the church) clearly does. Section 66 states that “the homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself or be entrusted by him to a concelebrating priest, or from time to time and, if appropriate, to the deacon.” To your question, for a deacon to preach regularly two Sundays a month, in my mind, runs counter to this provision. (I also think, although there’s no rule on this, that parishioners expect to hear from – and deserve to hear from – their pastor for such major celebrations as Easter and first Communion.)

I think the most reliable answer here is: it depends.

I know of deacons who preach once or twice a month. Some parishes have “deacon weekends,” when a deacon preaches all the Masses one weekend a month. (For the first several years of my diaconate, because of the failing health of our pastor, I preached every weekend for him. But that situation is a little out of the ordinary.)

Canon law indicates some flexibility, and there are no hard and fast rules. Frankly, I think a lot depends on the ability and skills of the people involved. Some deacons are terrible preachers. So are some priests. There are some parishes where more frequent preaching by the deacon might be desirable, even preferable—and the same could be said of the priest or pastor.

Nonetheless, I tell guys when I teach homiletics: be prepared. You never know when you might find yourself called on to preach. I’ve had priests ask me in the sacristy, while we’re vesting, to preach for them.  Sometimes they’re tired; sometimes, they aren’t feeling well. Often, they’ve already celebrated two Masses and just want a breather.

Like I said: it depends.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
2
LOREN SCHAUERS
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
3
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
4
MASS
Philip Kosloski
5 Essential things used at Mass and their symbolism
5
COUPLE
Cerith Gardiner
7 Joys to be had from a lengthy marriage
6
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
Catholic prayers for strength
7
HOLY SEPULCHRE CROSSES
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
See More