|Holy Orders Home
The Order of Deacon
The Diaconate -- the 2nd of the Major Orders
|according to the
Traditional Catholic Rite of Holy Orders
by A. Biskupek, S.V.D
Mission Press, 1954
May 4, 1942 Charles Michel, S.V.D. Provincial
May 4, 1942 + Samuel A. Stritch, D.D.
Archbishop of Chicago
The diaconate is the lowest order of the divinely
established hierarchy, as well as the lowest sacramental order. It is a
true sacrament and imprints an indelible mark upon the soul of the recipient.
The deacon partakes of the priesthood so far as he is the assistant of
the priest and bishop. The election and ordination of the first deacons
is related in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 6, 1-6). In the Old Testament
the order of deacons was typified by the Levites.
Deacons have always held an important place in the Church. Their duties
in ancient times were manifold: to assist the priest at the Holy Sacrifice,
to distribute Holy Communion, to read the Gospel, to preach and to instruct
the people. They also exercised a certain supervision over the faithful,
and together with priests assisted the bishop in the ecclesiastical courts;
lastly, they had charge of the poor and sick, and administered the revenues
of the Church. At the present time the functions of the deacon are mainly
to assist the priest at solemn liturgical functions. It is only in rare
cases that deacons baptize, preach, or distribute Holy Communion.
New ceremonial acts which appear in the ordination of
The diaconate is always conferred after the Epistle.
The Postulation -- The archdeacon
requests the bishop, in the name of the Church to perform the
ordination. The postulation is the public expression of the anxious
desire of the Church that worthy ministers of the altar be ordained, so
that the public worship of God may be continued and the mission of
Christ for the salvation of souls carried on.
The Scrutiny -- The bishop makes inquiry
as to the worthiness of the candidates. Many laws have been passed, and
many are still in force, whereby the responsibility authorities are
required to watch over the candidates for the priesthood and to
recommend for ordination only such men as, according to their opinion,
will be worthy priests.
The Consultation of the People -- The
assembled people are called upon to state openly if they know aught
concerning a candidate which would make him undesirable for the service
of the Church. This, as well as the preceding act, was of eminently
practical value in ancient times, when candidates for the priesthood did
not receive a seminary training of many years as in our days. The
ceremony clearly shows the importance which holy Church attaches to the
selection of worthy candidates for the service of the altar. Indeed, the
bishop cannot in conscience ordain anyone concerning whose worthiness he
does not have a positive assurance.
The Imposition of the Hands -- This is the
essential rite by which the orders of sacrmental character are conferred;
it symbolizes the communication of supernatural grace and power through
the Holy Spirit.
Candidates for deaconship present themselves for ordination dressed
in alb, cincture, amice, maniple; on their left arm they carry stole and
dalmatic, and in their right hand a burning candle.
The Call. The bishop, with his miter on, sits
on the faldstool before the middle of the altar. The archdeacon bids the
candidates come forward; the notary reads their names:
Let those come forward who are to be ordained
deacons: N. N., etc.
Each one answers adsum, goes before the altar and kneels, holding
the burning candle in his right hand.
The Postulation. The archdeacon continues:
If the ordaining bishop is a cardinal, the archdeacon says:
Most Eminent and Reverend Father,
The Scrutiny. The bishop inquires:
our holy mother, the Catholic Church, requests
that you ordain the subdeacons here present to the office of
Does thou know them to be worthy?
The archdeacons answers:
As far as human frailty allows to know, I know
and I testify that they are worthy of the charge of this office.
The bishop says:
Consultation of the People. The bishop, with
his miter on, now makes to clergy and people the following announcement:
By the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus
Christ, we choose the subdeacons here present for the order of deaconship.
If anyone has anything against them, let him confidently come forward and
speak in the presence of God and for the sake of God. However, let him
be mindful of his condition.
The Instruction. After a short pause the bishop
addresses to the ordinands the following instruction:
Dearly beloved sons, about to be promoted to the
order of Levites, consider well to what an exalted rank you rise in the
Church. The office of the deacon is to assist at the altar, to baptize,
and to preach.
Prayer. If no subdeacons have been ordained,
the prostration takes place here and the Litany
of the Saints is said.
Under the Old Law, indeed, the one tribe of Levi was chosen out of the
twelve tribes, that it should attend with special devotion to the Tabernacle
of God and to its sacrifices according to a perpetual rite. So great was
the dignity bestowed upon it that no one, except of this tribe, could rise
to hold an office in the performance of that divine worship. Thus by some
great hereditary privilege it deserved bot to be and to be called the tribe
of the Lord.
Today, dearly beloved sons, you receive their name and their office.
You are chosen for the service of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, that
is, the Church of God, in the Levitical office. The Church, always ready
for battle, wages an unceasing warfare against her enemies, as the Apostle
says: "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities
and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the
spirits of wickedness in the high places." It is your duty to uphold and
defend this Church of God, even as the Tabernacle, with the armor of holiness,
by divine preaching and perfect example.
Levi signifies added, or lifted up. You, dearly
beloved sons, who receive your name from an office of paternal
inheritance, be lifted up above the desires of the flesh and earthly
passions which war against the soul. Be clean and undefiled, pure and
chaste, as it behooves ministers of Christ and dispensers of the
mysteries of God, that you may worthily be added to the number of those
who have ecclesiastical rank and deserve to be the inheritance and the
beloved tribe of the Lord. And since you are co-ministers and cooperate
in the sacrifice of the body and blood of the Lord, keep yourselves
proof against every allurement of the flesh, as the Scripture says: "Be
ye clean, you that carry the vessels of the Lord." Remember that Blessed
Stephen was elected by the apostles for this office, because of his
eminent chastity. Take care to interpret the gospel by living works to
those to whom you are preaching so that it may be said of you: "Blessed
are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring
glad tidings of good things." Have your feet shod with the examples of
the saints in the propagation of the gospel of peace. May the Lord grant
it to you by His grace. R. Amen.
After the litany, the ordinands kneel, and the bishop, sitting on the
faldstool, with his miter on, addresses clergy and people as follows:
Let common supplication and united prayer continue,
that these men, who are prepared for the ministry of deaconship, may, through
the prayer of the whole Church, shine in the order of Levitical +
benediction, distinguish themselves by a spiritual life and show forth
the grace by which they have been sanctified, through the help of our Lord
Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns,
God forever. R. Amen.
The bishop rises, with the miter on and, facing the ordinands, says with
a loud voice:
Dearly beloved brethren, let us beseech God, the
Father Almighty, that He may graciously pour out His grace upon and bless
these His servants whom He deigns to assume into the office of deaconship,
and in His goodness preserve in them the gifts of the ordination to which
they are admitted. May He graciously hear our prayers and by His loving
assistance bring to perfection what we are about to administer, and may
He by His + blessing sanctify and strengthen
them, whom according to our knowledge we consider worthy to be assigned
to the celebration of the sacred mysteries. Through His only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, who with Him and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
The bishop, without miter and with arms extended, continues:
Forever and ever.
The Bestowal of the Office.
Here the Ordinands rise, go up to the altar and kneel before the bishop,
who lays his right hand on each one and says:
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with thee.
V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We have lifted them up unto the Lord.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is meet and just.
It is truly meet and just, right and profitable unto salvation, that
we should at all times and in all places give thanks to Thee, O holy Lord,
Father Almighty, eternal God, who givest honors, assignest rank, and bestowest
offices. Abiding in Thyself, Thou renewest all things and disposest all
things through Thy Word and Power and Wisdom, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our
Lord. With eternal providence dost Thou prepare and dispense in due time
what is needful. Thou hast adorned with a variety of heavenly gifts Thy
Church, which is His body. Its members are distinct, but Thou hast united
them by a wonderful law which governs its whole structure. Thus Thou makest
it to grow and to expand, and Thy temple to enlarge.
Thou hast ordained that those who are in charge of the sacred ministry
should serve Thy holy name in three orders. So of old, the sons of Levi
were chosen as faithful guardians to devote their lives to the sacred mysteries
celebrated in Thy house and to possess as their abiding portion the heritage
of a blessing which was to endure forever.
Look down graciously, O Lord, also on these Thy
servants whom we, amid humble prayer, ordain to the office of deacon,
that they may serve Thy holy altars. As men without the resources of
divine perception and supreme understanding, we judge of their lives so
far as we are able. But what is unknown to us, does not escape Thee, O
Lord; and what is hidden does not deceive Thee. Thou knowest the
secrets; Thou searchest the hearts. Thou art able to examine their lives
with heavenly discernment, by which Thou always prevailest, both to
cleanse from sin and to grant what is to be accomplished.
Receive the Holy Spirit, unto power and to resist
the devil and his temptations. In the name of the Lord.
Each one returns to his place and kneels. Then the bishop, holding his
right hand extended over all, continues:
Send forth upon them, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the Holy Spirit that
they may be strengthened by Him, through the gift of Thy sevenfold grace,
unto the faithful discharge of Thy service. May the pattern of all virtue
abound in them, modest authority, constant propriety, the purity of innocence,
the observance of spiritual discipline. Let Thy precepts shine forth in
their lives so that, by the example of their holiness, the faithful may
be aroused to holy imitation. May they prize above all things the testimony
of a good conscience, persevere firm and steadfast in Christ, an by Thy
grace make themselves worthy to rise in due succession from a lower to
a higher order.
Investiture with the Insignia of the Office.
Here the bishop seats himself and receives the miter; the ordained approach
and kneel before him, each holding in his hand a stole which the bishop
takes and imposes upon the left shoulder, saying:
The bishop takes the dalmatic from each one and invests him with it, saying:
At last the bishop presents to them the book of gospels; all touch it with
the right hand, while the bishop says:
Prayer. The bishop, miter off, turns to the
altar and says:
Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, Thy Son,
who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the same Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever. R. Amen.
Let Us Pray
Turning again to the ordained, the bishop continues:
The assistants: Let us bend our knees. R. Arise.
Hear, O Lord, our prayers, and send forth upon
these Thy servants the Spirit of Thy + blessing,
so that enriched with the heavenly gift they may be able to earn the favor
of Thy Majesty and give to others the example of a virtuous life. Through
our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity
of the same Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. R. Amen.
Upon the direction of the archdeacon, the ordained return to their places.
One of the newly ordained deacons reads the Gospel aloud, together with
Let Us Pray
Holy Lord, Father of faith, hope and grace,
Rewarder of progress: everywhere in heaven and on earth dost Thou employ
the services of angels and scatter the works fo Thy will throughout the
universe: vouchsafe to enlighten also these Thy servants by love of
spiritual things so that, ready for Thy service, they may as
irreproachable ministers join Thy holy altars. May they grow in purity
through Thy grace, and be worthy of the rank of those seven men whom the
apostles elected under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and of whom
Stephen was the chief and the leader. Adorned with all virtues which Thy
service calls for, may they be pleasing to Thee. Through our Lord Jesus
Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the same
Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. R. Amen.
Holy Orders Home Page |
Sacrament of Holy Orders | Tonsure
Minor Orders | Porter
| Reader | Exorcist
Major Orders | Subdeacon
| Deacon | Priest
Litany of the Saints
| Veni Creator | Encyclical
of Pope Pius XI