Ordination Rites: Ordination of a Deacon 14

Section 14 of the diaconate ordination rite deals first with the homily. This was one of the first reformed rites after Vatican II, so they get a little particular about telling the bishop what to do:

14. Then all sit, and the bishop gives the homily. He begins with the text of the readings from Scripture and then speaks to the people and the candidate about the office of deacon and the meaning and importance of celibacy in the Church. He may use these words:

This man, your relative and friend, is now to be raised to the order of deacons. Consider carefully the ministry to which he is to be promoted.

Every deacon has duties:

He will draw new strength from the gift of the Holy Spirit. He will help the bishop and his body of priests as a minister of the word, of the altar, and of charity. He will make himself a servant to all. As a minister of the altar he will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sac­rifice, and give the Lord’s body and blood to the com­munity of believers.

Some duties (above) are a given. Other ministries are performed if the bishop needs them done:

It will also be his duty, at the bishop’s discretion, to bring God’s word to believer and unbeliever alike, to preside over public prayer, to baptize, to assist at mar­riages and bless them, to give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial. Once he is consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes to us from the apostles and is bound more closely to the altar, he will perform works of charity in the name of the bishop or the pastor. From the way he goes about these duties, may you recognize him as a disciple of Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.

Some of the “homily” is addressed to the candidate:

He then addresses the candidate:

My son, you are being raised to the order of deacons. The Lord has set an example for you to follow.

As a deacon you will serve Jesus Christ, who was known among his disciples as the one who served others. Do the will of God generously. Serve God and (hu)mankind in love and joy. Look upon all unchastity and avarice as worship of false gods; for no man can serve two masters.

Like the men the apostles chose for works of charity, you should be a man of good reputation, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Show before God and mankind that you are above every suspicion of blame, a true minister of Christ and of God’s mysteries, a man firmly rooted in faith. Never turn away from the hope which the Gospel offers; now you must not only listen to God’s word but also preach it. Hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience. Express in action what you proclaim by word of mouth. Then the people of Christ, brought to life by the Spirit, will be an offering God accepts. Finally, on the last day, when you go to meet the Lord, you will hear him say: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Interesting that the commitment to celibacy is covered under the same number as the homily. Guess the Roman Rite is serious about it:

COMMITMENT TO CELIBACY

After the homily the candidate, if he is to manifest his inten­tion of a commitment to celibacy, stands before the bishop. The bishop speaks to him in these or similar words:

By your own free choice you seek to enter the order of deacons. You shall exercise this ministry in the celibate state for celibacy is both a sign and a motive of pastoral charity, and a special source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. By living in this state with total dedication, moved by a sincere love for Christ the Lord, you are consecrated to him in a new and special way. By this consecration you will adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart; you will be more freely at the ser­vice of God and mankind, and you will be more un­trammeled in the ministry of Christian conversion and rebirth. By your life and character you will give wit­ness to your brothers and sisters in faith that God must be loved above all else, and that it is he whom you serve in others.

Therefore, I ask you:

In the presence of God and the Church, are youre­solved, as a sign of your interior dedication to Christ, to remain celibate for the sake of the kingdom and in lifelong service to God and mankind?

The candidate answers:

I am.

If it wishes, the conference of bishops may determine some external sign to express the intention of the candidate.

Let’s not go there with too active an imagination.

The bishop adds:

May the Lord help you to persevere in this commit­ment.

The candidate answers:

Amen.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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