About Deacons

About Deacons  |  Character Attributes
  
 
So, Who Are Deacons, Anyway?
by the Ven. Priscilla G. Maumus, Archdeacon, Diocese of Louisiana
 
If you are a vocational deacon, chances are that, you are often asked, “So, when are you going to be ordained?” “When are you going to become a priest?” While deacons and priests are both ordained, and while priests pass through a brief stage (usually the six months or so preceding ordination to priesthood) called the transitional diaconate, our calls are very different.

Think of priests as the door to the tabernacle, acting as mediators between heaven and earth, consecrating the bread and wine in the Eucharist, and uniquely charged with conferring God’s blessing and absolution. We deacons, on the other hand, are the door to the Church. We open the door to invite in the needy, the neglected, the despised and the forgotten and we open it again to send out the congregation to address those needs and to bind up those wounds.

While all orders (bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people) do this, deacons are especially charged with helping the congregation connect Sunday with Monday. If you look at our role in the liturgy, you will see we are constantly visible and audible as messengers, advocates, facilitators, and motivators.

We process in with the Gospel book held high for all to see. Later, in the Liturgy of the Word, we proclaim the Gospel to the congregation assembled, understanding that they are then to ponder that Word in their hearts and to make it come alive in the world.

Next, we are involved in some way with the Prayers of the People. We may write them, introduce them, recite them or all of these. The Prayers of the People are petitions to God, but they are also newsletters to the congregation. They alert us to those who need our compassion and help, both within the church and in the world.

Third, we receive the gifts from the people at the Offertory. Think about it. These gifts aren’t simply what God made -- grain and grapes. They are what we make of what God gave us. We are presenting them back to God.

Fourth, we elevate the chalice at the invitation to Communion, reminding all of us that God has transformed the gifts we have offered into the gift of Himself. We usually also participate in the distribution of Communion.

Lastly, we dismiss the congregation with a charge to remember why we gathered for this meal. This is not just about being fed. It is a working lunch with the Boss. We have a job to do, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” It is up to us all by our words, but, most importantly, by our actions and service, to do our part every day of every week to make sure the weary world feels the thrill of hope of the Gospel, the promise of the new and glorious morn of the Kingdom come.