Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Youcat commented through CCC – Question n. 255 - Part I.
(Youcat answer) In diaconal ordination the candidate is appointed to a special service within the sacrament of Holy Orders. For he represents Christ as the one who came, “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28). In the liturgy of ordination we read: “As a minister of the Word, of the altar, and of charity, [the deacon] will make himself a servant to all.”
A deepening through CCC
(CCC 1569) "At a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands 'not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry"' (Lumen gentium, 29; cf. Christus Dominus, 15). At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon's special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his "diakonia" (Cf. St. Hippolytus, Trad. Ap. 8: SCh 11, 58-62).
Reflecting and meditating
(Youcat comment) The original model of the deacon is the martyr St. Stephen. When the Apostles in the original Church of Jerusalem saw that they were overwhelmed by their many charitable duties, they appointed seven men “to serve tables”, whom they then ordained. The first mentioned is Stephen: “full of grace and power”, he accomplished much for the new faith and for the poor in the Christian community. Over the centuries the diaconate became merely a degree of Holy Orders on the way to the presbyterate, but today it is once again an independent vocation for both celibates and married men. On the one hand, this is supposed to reemphasize service as a characteristic of the Church; on the other hand, it helps the priests, as in the early Church, by establishing an order of ministers who take on particular pastoral and social duties of the Church. Diaconal ordination, too, makes a lifelong, irrevocable mark on the ordained man.
(CCC 1571) Since the Second Vatican Council the Latin Church has restored the diaconate "as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy" (Lumen gentium, 29 § 2), while the Churches of the East had always maintained it. This permanent diaconate, which can be conferred on married men, constitutes an important enrichment for the Church's mission. Indeed it is appropriate and useful that men who carry out a truly diaconal ministry in the Church, whether in its liturgical and pastoral life or whether in its social and charitable works, should "be strengthened by the imposition of hands which has come down from the apostles. They would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate" (Ad gentes, 16 § 6).