We come to the end of our examination of Pope Paul VI’s motu proprio, SDO, and its basic prescriptions for reviving the order of deacon.
36. Finally as regards the rite to be followed in conferring the sacred order of the diaconate and those orders which precede the diaconate, let the present discipline be observed until it is revised by the Holy See.
Two saintly examples are offered for consideration:
Finally, after issuing these norms the desire springs spontaneously from our heart that deacons in performing their arduous functions in the modern world follow the examples which we propose for their imitation; the example of St. Stephen the protomartyr, who as St. Irenaeus says “was the first chosen for diaconal service by the Apostles,”[Adversus haereses 4.15.1, PG 7:1013.] and of St. Lawrence of Rome “who was illustrious not only in the administration of the sacraments but also in the stewardship of the possessions of the Church.”[St. Leo the Great, <Sermon> 85, PL 54:436.]
We order, then, that what has been established by us in this letter, given “motu proprio” be firm and valid, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s on the feast of St. Ephrem the Syrian, June 18, 1967 in the fourth year of our pontificate.
An appropriate feast for this letter; did you know that Ephrem is the only deacon among the doctors of the Church?
Not much is said in this document of deacons attending to aspects of their own administration, education, and the like. I’ve seen flourishing diaconate communities in dioceses, especially in Dubuque, where I served for many years, and where I know many deacons. The USCCB’s latest directory was promulgated four years ago. It contains many of the particular American practices set forth for deacons and for the sustenance of their ministry.