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Why we need deacons: ‘Without them, the priest has his name but not his office’

WEB-SAINT-DEC26-STEPHEN © Fr Lawrence Lew

FR Lawrence Lew OP CC

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/05/17

A grateful h/t to Anthony Ruff over at PrayTell, who sent this my way.

It’s a translation from an Italian blog, written by Fr. Markus Tymister, a faculty member at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy at Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. He makes note of some observations by St. Isidore:

St. Isidore died in 639 in Seville, where he was bishop. In his works he succeeding in pulling together knowledge from antiquity and making it accessible. He is generally considered the last church father of antiquity. In his work De ecclesiasticis officiis, written between 598 and 615 at the commission of his brother Fulgentius, bishop of Astigi (Ecija, 50 miles east of Seville), Isidore gives us information on, among other things, the origin and meaning of ecclesial ministries, offices, and usages. In the second book of the work is found, after the section on presbyters, a chapter on deacons.

Isidore writes:

Let the deacons admonish all in a loud voice after the manner of a herald, whether to pray or to bend the knee or to sing psalms or to listen to the readings; they also pray publicly to the Lord and proclaim the Gospel.Without them, the priest has his name but not his office. For as it the duty of the priest to consecrate the sacrament, so it is the duty of the server [deacon] to distribute it. As it assigned to the priest to declaim the prayers, so it is the deacon’s item to declaim the psalm. The one sanctifies the gifts, the other distributes the gifts. It is not even permitted to priests, because of the danger of arrogance, that they take to themselves the cup of the Lord from the altar, but that it be extended to them by the deacon. The Levites [deacons] bring the gifts to the altar, the Levites [deacons] prepare the Table of the Lord and veil the Ark of the Covenant.

Fr. Tymister, concludes: “Priests who think they can carry out everything alone and do without other ministries (servers, lectors, cantors, deacons, organists…) distort what is characteristic of the celebration of Mass. Ministries and offices are not an addition – actually dispensable – to elevate solemnity. Rather, they represent the hierarchically structured church, the people of God, the mystical Body of Christ, which, with Christ the head, is subject of the liturgy.”

Read it all.

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