What’s a Deacon?

The name of my blog reflects the reality that my life is one viewed through the prism of the diaconate.  A deacon is someone you are, not the functions that you do.

“Deacon” is derived from the Greek word diaconia which means “service.”  A deacon is a servant.  The diaconate is the first grade of Holy Orders in the Catholic Church.  It describes the order of clergy that give themselves over to the service of word, sacrament, and charity.

These particular ministries are expressed in complementary ways:

  1. Word – deacons proclaim the Gospel in the their everyday lives, as well as proclaim the Gospel during the liturgy, and sometimes give the homily.
  2. Sacrament – deacons are the custodians of the tabernacle and distribute Holy Communion during the Eucharist, as well as taking Christ to the infirm and homebound.  They may also baptize, witness marriages and preside at funerals and grave-side services.
  3. Charity – deacons work to assist and care for the marginalized in our society, especially the poor and disadvantaged.  This is evidenced in scripture by the earliest deacons (cf. Acts 6:1-6)

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Incidentally, the sacrament of Holy Orders is one sacrament given in three grades to personify three expressions of our Lord Jesus Christ:

  1. Servant – deacons are configured to the servant Christ who came not to be served, but to serve and offer his life as a ransom for many.
  2. Sacrifice – priests (presbyters) offer sacrifice as Christ the High Priest in administering the sacraments of his Church.
  3. Shepherd – bishops tend the flock by teaching and governing as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

In the final analysis, diaconia is about loving others in humility.

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