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This week continues are sermon series, Pressure points. This week we're looking at one of the most difficult concepts for a Christian, or anyone to deal with: Why is this happening to me? Why does God not care? Those designs make little to no sense to use in the moment but at the end of all things, God wins. Following last weeks sermon on greed, this week's pressure point is jealousy. Jealousy is a more emotional desire than greed, its the feeling that you deserve as much or more than another has.
A lot of times it spawn from a perceived threat to what one already has; someone on your team completes a big project at work and is receiving a lot of praise for it and you begin to feel they are threatening your position at the company.
It creates strife where none exists and drives people apart. Join us as we look into how to deal with jealousy before it pulls apart relationships. This Sunday we're preaching on the topic of Greed.
Greed is the desire to acquire, the never ending want for bigger, better, and more and putting those feelings over the needs of others around you. Spending is part of life, there are times when you need to spend money on yourself or your belongings but when those desires being to supersede the well being of others it becomes greed. This week, as part of our summer sermon series 'Pressure Points', we're addressing feelings of anger.
Anger is a tricky emotion to deal with, the Bible is clear in stating that anger itself is not a sin but one needs to be careful not to sin in anger. Its like boiling water, the still surface of the water becomes disrupted as the bubbles rise and if left unattended will threaten to boil over out of the pot onto anything nearby.
Do not let the sun go down on your anger, join as we look at how the Bible approaches how to safely defusing your anger. This week we continue our summer sermon series 'Pressure Points' by looking at the feeling of guilt. The presence of deaconesses is still attested in Rome at the end of the eighth century. While the Roman rituals had previously not mentioned deaconesses, the sacramentary Hadrianum , sent by the pope to Charlemagne and spread by him throughout the Frankish world, includes an Oratio ad diaconam faciendum.
It was in fact a blessing, placed as an appendix among other rites of first institution. The Carolingian texts often combined deaconesses and abbesses. The Council of Paris of contained a general prohibition on women performing any liturgical function.
Once again, this was merely a blessing accompanied by the handing over of the stole and veil by the bishop, as well as the nuptial ring and the crown. Like widows, the deaconess promised continence. This is the last mention of "deaconesses" found in the Latin rituals.
In fact the Pontifical of Guillaume Durand at the end of the thirteenth century speaks of deaconesses only with reference to the past. In the Middle Ages, the nursing and teaching religious orders of nuns fulfilled in practise the functions of diakonia without, however, being ordained for this ministry. The title, with no corresponding ministry, was given to women who were instituted as widows or abbesses. Right up until the thirteenth century, abbesses were sometimes called deaconesses.
The sacramentally of the diaconate is a question which remains implicit in biblical, patristic and liturgical texts which have just been discussed. We now need to see how the Church first became explicitly conscious of it in a period in which, apart from certain rare exceptions, the diaconate was simply a stage on the way to the priesthood. Although "sacramentality" can have a broad, generic meaning, in the strict sense it refers to the seven sacraments outward and effective signs of grace , among which is the sacrament of "Holy Orders".
Within this sacrament were different "orders" or "grades", between seven and nine in number. The diaconate and the priesthood were always listed among the ordines sacri of the sacrament, and the sub-diaconate began to be included among them because of its requirement of celibacy; the episcopate was excluded from them in most cases. Although he held that all the ordines were spirituales et sacri, he underlined the excellence of the diaconate and the priesthood, the only ones which existed in the primitive Church by the will of the Apostles, while the others had been instituted by the Church in the course of time.
He did not consider the episcopate to share in this excellence, saying that it did not belong to the sacramental ordines but rather to the domain of dignities and offices. Saint Thomas' teaching on the diaconate included the fact that it was a sacrament insofar as it belonged to Holy Orders, one of the seven sacraments of the new law. He considered that each of the different orders constituted in some way a sacramental reality; however, only three priest, deacon and sub-deacon could strictly be said to be ordines sacri by reason of their special relation to the Eucharist.
The way that the unity and oneness of the sacrament of Holy Orders was bound together in its different grades had to do with their reference to the Eucharist, Sacramentum sacramentorum. Through ordination priests received the power to consecrate, while deacons received the power to serve the priests in the administration of the sacraments. The relationship of each order to the Eucharist became the deciding factor in avoiding the idea that each order gave the power to administer a specific sacrament.
The same criterion also served to exclude the orders of psalmist and cantor from the sacramental orders. But this criterion was also used to exclude the episcopate from sacramentality. Because the diaconate is a sacrament, it is an ordo which imprints a character on the soul. Saint Thomas applies this doctrine to baptism, confirmation and Holy Orders. His thinking on this developed with time. On the subject of the diaconate, he explained all its potestates , in relation to the dispensatio of the sacraments, as something that seemed to belong rather within the domain of what was "licit" and not within the domain of a new radical enablement with regard to the "validity" of the functions in question.
According to this line, only ordination to the priesthood is a "sacrament"; the other orders, including the diaconate, were only "sacramentals". The diaconate, on the other hand, grants the capacity to do licite something that he could in fact do before, although illicitly, and this is why the diaconate can be considered as an institution or ecclesial deputation to exercise certain functions;.
He distinguished in his turn between a deputatio which had its origin in God himself, and made the order in question a sacramentum, and an ecclesiastical deputatio instituted by the Church, which only made the orders in question all the other orders sacramentalia. In this sense it could be said that the diaconate imprints a character; the doubt or debate concerned exactly when the character was imprinted, since some maintained that it would come "in traditione libri evangeliorum" an opinion which Durandus rejected while others held that it came "in impositione manuum" an opinion which he appeared to adopt.
The Council of Trent chose to make a dogmatic definition of Holy Orders as a sacrament; the direction of its doctrinal statements leaves no doubt on the subject. However, it is not clear to what extent the sacramentality of the diaconate should be considered as being included in this definition. The question has remained a controversial one to the present day, although very few people indeed now debate the subject.
This makes it necessary to interpret the statements of the Council of Trent. As against the denials of the Reformers, Trent declared the existence of a hierarchia in Ecclesia ordinatione divina which led to a rejection of the statement "omnes christianos promiscue Novi Testamenti sacerdotes esse" and also a hierarchia ecclesiastica which led to the distinction between the different grades within the sacrament of Holy Orders.
The references by Trent to the diaconate which it also refers to explicitly need to be set within the general theology of the sacrament of Holy Orders.
However, it is not entirely certain that the dogmatic declarations of Trent on the sacramentality and the sacramental character of the priesthood, to which Trent refers explicitly, include an intention on the part of the Council to define the sacramentality of the diaconate as well. According to Trent deacons are mentioned directly in the New Testament, although it is not stated that they were instituted directly by Christ the Saviour.
In accordance with the way the other orders are envisaged, the diaconate is also conceived of as a help to exercising "dignius et maiore cum veneratione ministerium tarn Sancti sacerdotii" and to serve the priesthood "ex officio" it is not said to be "ad ministerium episcopi".
Furthermore, the diaconate appears to be a stage on the way to the priesthood - there is no explicit mention of a permanent diaconate. When Trent defined dogmatically that ordo or sacra ordinatio was "vere sacramentum", there was no explicit mention of the diaconate, which was included among the ordines ministrorum.
Something similar can be said on the subject of the doctrine of "sacramental character". There is no mention made of "deacons", either direct or indirect; therefore it would be difficult to see in the text of Trent any intention to establish the dogma of character for the diaconate. Right up until the day before its approval 14 July , the text of can.
That day, in view of petitions made by a Spanish group, the expression aliis ministris was altered to exclude the word aliis. But the reasons and scope of this change are not very clear.
How should the term ministris , and their inclusion in the hierarchia , be interpreted? The exclusion of the word aliis means, according to some, that the dividing line within the ecclesiastical hierarchy should be drawn between sacerdotes bishops and priests on the one hand, and ministri on the other; the suppression of the word aliis was intended to stress once again that the bishops and priests are not "nudi ministri" but "sacerdotes Novi Testamenti". The history of the text in question, in the light of its previous formulations, would seem to suggest a broad understanding of ministri , to include "diaconos caeterosque ministros", corresponding to a triple division of the hierarchy "praecipue episcopi, deinde praesbyteri, diaconi et alii ministri".
But it must not be forgotten that according to other authors the suppression of the term aliis meant that the subdiaconate and other minor orders were excluded from the hierarchy "divina ordinatione instituta" - an expression whose interpretation is in its turn polemical.
To sum up, whether one interprets it exclusively or inclusively, it cannot be doubted that deacons are included in the term ministri. But the dogmatic consequences concerning their sacramentality and their inclusion in the hierarchy will differ, depending on whether the word ministri refers to deacons alone, or includes the other orders too. After the Council of Trent, in the theology of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a majority of opinions maintained the sacramentality of the diaconate, with only a minority questioning or denying it.
However, the form in which this sacramentality was defended had many differing nuances, and it was generally considered to be a point which had not been dogmatically defined by Trent, and which was reasserted doctrinally in the Roman Catechism where it describes the functions of deacons.
Thus for example, F. He established the sacramentality of Holy Orders "vere ac proprie sacramentum novae legis" as a fundamental principle admitted by all Catholic theologians and denied by Protestant heretics. But as regarded the sacramentality of the individual orders he felt it necessary to make a distinction, because although there was unanimous agreement on the sacramentality of the priesthood, this was not the case for the other orders.
Bellarmine declared himself clearly in favour of the sacramentality of the episcopate "ordinatio episcopalis sacramentum est vere ac proprie dictum" , as against the scholastics of old who denied it; and he considered this an assertio certissima , based on Scripture and Tradition.
Moreover, he spoke of an episcopal character which was distinct from and superior to the character of the presbyterate. As regards the doctrine of the sacramentality of the diaconate, Bellarmine adopted it, considering it very probable; however, he did not take it as a certainty ex fide , since it could not be deduced from the evidence of Scripture nor Tradition nor any explicit pronouncement on the part of the Church.
Bellarmine was also in favour of the sacramentality of the sub-diaconate, basing his opinion on the doctrine of character, on celibacy, and on the common opinion of theologians, although he recognised that this doctrine was not as certain as that of the diaconate.
Sometimes it was stated simply in passing, or indirectly, or faintly. Taken all together, the texts of Vatican II repeated what had been the majority opinion in theology up to that time, but went no further. Neither did the Council clarify a number of uncertainties which were expressed in the course of the debates.
The sacramentality of the diaconate was a theme tackled in several interventions in the second period of the Council The result was a majority in favour, particularly among those who upheld the institution of the permanent diaconate; among who opposed such an institution, there was no majority in favour of the sacramentality of the diaconate.
In the relatio of the doctrinal Commission, some explanatory notes on the text are presented which are of interest in interpreting it. The notes give the exegetical reason for not directly mentioning Acts 6: Also of interest for interpretation of the texts are the nuances introduced into the summary of the discussion. Among the arguments in favour of restoration, mention was first made of the sacramental nature of the diaconate, of which the Church ought not to be deprived.
Among the arguments against restoration the main one was undoubtedly that of celibacy. But others were added, such as whether or not the diaconate was needed for tasks which could be carried out by laypeople. The following questions were asked under this heading: In Lumen gentium 29, the proposition according to which there was an imposition of hands on deacons " non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium " was to become a key reference for the theological understanding of the diaconate.
However, many questions have been left open up until the present day for the following reasons: In Lumen gentium 28a, the term ministerium is used in a double sense in turn: The statement which relates most directly to the sacramentality of the diaconate is found in Lumen gentium 29a: The expression gratia sacramentalis is prudent, appropriate for an interjection, and much more nuanced than the formula "sacramental ordination" employed in the previous project of Lumen gentium in Why was this caution apparent in the expressions finally used?
The doctrinal Commission referred to the basis in tradition of what is affirmed, and to the concern to avoid giving the impression that those who had doubts on the subject were being condemned. Mention must first be made of the document which puts the Council's decisions into effect, i. In what concerns the theological nature of the diaconate, it takes up what Vatican II said about the gratia of the diaconate, while adding a reference to the indelible "character" absent from the Council texts , and it is understood as a "stable" service.
As a grade of the sacrament of Holy Orders, it bestows the capacity to exercise tasks which mostly belong to the domain of the liturgy eight out of the eleven mentioned. In some expressions these appear as tasks which are deputized or delegated.
The most recent step taken in the Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI, Ad pascendum refers to the instituting of the permanent diaconate not excluding it as a transitory stage as a "middle order" between the upper hierarchy and the rest of the People of God. In what concerns sacramentality, as well as considering this medius ordo as "signum vel sacramentum ipsius Christi Domini, qui non venit ministrari, sed ministrare", the document presupposes the sacramentality of the diaconate and limits itself to repeating the aforementioned expressions such as sacra ordinatio or sacrum ordinem.
Following some positions which had already been taken up before Vatican II, certain authors expressed their doubts with regard to the sacramentality of the diaconate more explicitly and with detailed arguments, after the Council too. Their motives were varied. Beyer primarily presented his analysis of the conciliar texts, whose silence on the distinction between the power of "order" and of "jurisdiction" seemed to him to avoid rather than provide a solution to the questions which were still unresolved.
He further evaluated the caution shown in the Council texts not only as the result of concern to avoid condemning anyone, but also as a result of doctrinal hesitations. According to Tradition, the ministerial priesthood was "unum" and "unum sacramentum". If it was this sacramental priesthood alone which rendered someone capable of acting in persona Christi with effect ex opere operato , then it would be hard to call the diaconate a "sacrament" because it was not instituted to accomplish any act in persona Christi with effect ex opere operato.
Additionally, further careful investigation was needed into the statements of Trent and also into the normative value of its references to the diaconate. It could be concluded from this relatio that a solution had not altogether been found of the difficulties with regard to the following points: In the new Codex Iuris Canonici of , the diaconate is spoken of from the standpoint of its sacramentality, introducing certain developments which deserve comment.
This is true of cann. The diaconate is one of the three orders, and the CIC seems to apply to it the general theology of the sacrament of Holy Orders in its integrity If this application is valid, then it follows from it that the diaconate is a sacramental reality, of divine institution, which makes deacons sacri ministri in the CIC, those who are baptized and ordained , imprints on them an "indelible character" taking for granted what was said by Paul VI and by reason of their consecration and deputation "consecrantur et deputantur" renders them capable of exercising in persona Christi Capitis and in the grade which corresponds to them "pro suo quisque gradu" the tasks of teaching, sanctifying and ruling, in other words the functions proper to those who are called to guide the People of God.
Integrating the diaconate within the general theology of the sacrament of Holy Orders in this way raises certain questions. Can it be theologically maintained that deacons, even pro suo gradu , really exercise the "munera docendi, sanctificandi et regendi" in persona Christi Capitis as do bishops and priests? Is that not something particular and exclusive to those who have received sacramental ordination and the consequent power to "conficere corpus et sanguinem Christi", i. Should the CIC's expression in persona Christi Capitis be understood in a broader sense so that it can also be applied to the functions of deacons?
How, then, should the Council's statement be interpreted, which says that deacons are "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium"? Can the task of "pascere populum Dei" be considered an effect of the sacramentality of the diaconate?
Would not arguing over its "powers" lead to an impasse? It is very natural that the CIC should concern itself specially and at length with the faculties proper to deacons, and it does so in several canons.
Although these points referred directly to regere , can. In any case, with reference to the possibility opened by can. The recent Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae CCE , in its definitive edition, seems to speak more decidedly in favour of the sacramentality of the diaconate. It states that the potestas sacra to act in persona Christi only corresponds to the bishops and priests, whereas deacons hold "vim populo Dei serviendi" in their various diaconal functions no.
It also mentions deacons when, concerning the sacrament of Holy Orders, it considers "ordination" as a "sacramental act" enabling recipients to exercise a "sacred power" which proceeds ultimately from Jesus Christ alone no. On the one hand it seems that according to the CCE deacons could also be included in a certain way in a general understanding of the sacrament of Holy Orders under some categories of the priesthood, since it mentions them from this point of view at the same time as bishops and priests in nos.
On the other hand in the definitive version of no. Finally, the idea of sacramentality is strengthened by the explicit attribution of the doctrine of "character" to deacons as a special configuration with Christ, deacon and servant of all no.
The recent Ratio fundamentalis , which recognises the difficulties that exist in reaching an understanding of the "germana natura" of the diaconate, nevertheless firmly upholds the clarity of the doctrinal elements "clarissime definita", nos. There is no doubt that we have here a way of speaking of the specific identity of the deacon which offers certain novelties in comparison with what has usually been the case up till now.
The deacon has a specific configuration with Christ, Lord and Servant. This is offered in justification of restricting the configuration with Christ the Head and Shepherd to priests.
But configuration with Christ the "Servant", and "service" as a characteristic of the ordained minister, are also valid for priests; so that it is not very clear what is "specifically diaconal" in this service, what it is that might express itself in functions or "munera" cf. All in all, the Ratio clearly affirms the sacramentality of the diaconate as well as its sacramental character, in the perspective of a common theology of the sacrament of Holy Orders and the respective character which it confers.
The doctrinal position in favour of the sacramentality of the diaconate is broadly speaking the majority opinion of theologians from the twelfth century to the present day and it is taken for granted in the practise of the Church and in most documents of the Magisterium; it is upheld by those who defend the permanent diaconate for celibate or married people and constitutes an element which includes a large number of the propositions in favour of the diaconate for women.
Despite everything, this doctrinal position faces questions which need to be clarified more fully, either through the development of a more convincing theology of the sacramentality of the diaconate, or through a more direct and explicit intervention by the Magisterium, or by a more successful attempt to connect and harmonize the various elements.
The path which was followed concerning the sacramentality of the episcopate could be taken as a decisive and instructive reference point. Among the questions requiring deeper or more fully developed theology are the following: To reduce sacramentality to the question of potestates would undoubtedly be an overly narrow approach; ecclesiology offers broader and richer perspectives.
But in the case of the sacrament of Holy Orders, this question cannot be passed over with the excuse that it is too narrow. The other two grades of Holy Orders, the episcopate and the priesthood, give a capacity, by reason of sacramental ordination, for tasks which an unordained person cannot perform validly. Why should it be otherwise for the diaconate?
Does the difference lie in the way in which the munera are exercised or in the personal quality of the person performing them?
But how could this be rendered theologically credible? If in fact these functions can be exercised by a layperson, what justification is there for the argument that they have their source in a new and distinct sacramental ordination? The discussion of diaconal powers gives rise once again to general questions on: In three places, Vatican II uses different terms to describe what it intends to do when it speaks of the diaconate as a stable rank of the hierarchy of the Church.
Lumen gentium 29b uses the notion of restitutio , Ad gentes 16f uses that of restauratio , while Orientalium Ecclesiarum 17 employs the word instauratio. In the present chapter two points will be dealt with.
First, it is important to know the reasons why the Council restored the permanent diaconate, and secondly, to examine the figure it wished to bestow upon it.
The idea of re-establishing the diaconate as a permanent grade of the hierarchy did not originate with Vatican II.
It was already current before the Second World War, but was developed as a definite possibility after , especially in German-speaking countries. Various specialists soon produced studies on the theological and historical aspects of the diaconate. Thus on the eve of the Council the idea of a permanent diaconate was very much alive in certain significant sectors of the Church, and influenced a certain number of bishops and experts during the Council.
The motivations which led Vatican II to open the possibility of restoring the permanent diaconate are mainly given in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium and the Decree on the missionary activity of the Church Ad gentes. Because of the doctrinal nature of Lumen gentium , the origin of its formulations concerning the permanent diaconate will be considered first. During the first stage of the Council the question of the diaconate did not attract much attention as a particular topic: However, most of them addressed practical questions rather than theoretical matters: In comparison with the level of discussion of the first period, that of the second period covered more ground and proved essential for an understanding of the Councils intentions.
Beginning with the Council Fathers who favoured the re-establishment of a permanent diaconate, it should be said that they stressed the fact that the Council was only examining the possibility of re-establishing the permanent diaconate at the time and in the places that the competent ecclesiastical authority should judge opportune.
There was no indication to the effect that the establishment of a permanent diaconate might be something obligatory on all local Churches. The same contributors considered how the Church would benefit from such a decision from a practical and pastoral viewpoint. The presence of permanent deacons could help to resolve some of the pastoral problems caused by the shortage of priests in mission countries and in areas subject to persecution.
The interventions also pointed to the theological basis for a re-establishing of the permanent diaconate. Some Council Fathers highlighted the fact that the question of the permanent diaconate was not merely a disciplinary matter, but was properly speaking a theological one.
The teaching of the Council of Trent session 23, can. Moreover, the Fathers maintained that the diaconate was a sacrament conferring grace and a character. But as it was assumed that permanent deacons would live and work in the middle of the lay population and the secular world, they could exercise the role of "bridge or mediation between the hierarchy and the faithful".
The permanent diaconate was not perceived as a call to the priesthood, but as a distinct ministry in the service of the Church.
These opinions in favour of the restoration of the diaconate met with objections. Certain Fathers underlined the fact that the permanent diaconate would not be useful in resolving the shortage of priests because deacons cannot replace priests completely. The definitive text of Lumen gentium , promulgated on 21 November , expresses some objectives which the Council set in re-establishing the diaconate as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy in the Latin Church.
In the first place, according to no. Lumen gentium 29, however, presented what might be termed the "circumstantial reason" for the restoration of the permanent diaconate.
The present difficulties caused by the shortage of priests demanded some response. Care for the faithful pro cura animarum was the determining factor in re-establishing the permanent diaconate in a local Church. The re-establishment of the permanent diaconate was therefore intended to respond to pastoral needs which were grave, not merely peripheral ones. This explains in part why it was the responsibility of the territorial episcopal conferences, and not the pope, to determine if it was opportune to ordain such deacons, because they would have a more immediate grasp of the needs of the local Churches.
Indirectly, Vatican II was also to initiate a clarification of the identity of the priest, who did not have to fulfil all the tasks necessary to the life of the Church. In consequence, the Church would be able to experience the riches of different degrees of Holy Orders. At the same time Vatican II enabled the Church to go beyond a narrowly sacerdotal understanding of the ordained minister. It is also worth noting that the permanent diaconate could be conferred upon men of more mature age viris maturioris aetatis , even upon those living in the married state, but that the law of celibacy remained intact for younger candidates.
Lumen gentium does not give the reasons for this decision. But the conciliar debates indicate that the Fathers wished to make of the permanent diaconate an order which would unite the sacred hierarchy and the secular life of laypeople more closely together.
Further motivations emerge from Ad gentes Here it can be seen that the Council was not re-establishing the permanent diaconate merely because of a shortage of priests. There were already men who were in fact exercising the diaconal ministry. By the imposition of hands these were "to be strengthened and more closely associated with the altar" corroborari et altari arctius conjungi. The sacramental grace of the diaconate would render them capable of exercising their ministry more effectively Here Vatican II was not motivated only by current pastoral difficulties, but by the need to recognise the existence of the diaconal ministry in certain communities.
It desired to confirm by sacramental grace those who were already exercising the diaconal ministry, or showing forth its charism. From Lumen gentium to Ad gentes , there was a shift in the Council's intentions. These intentions can be of great importance in understanding not only the diaconate but the true nature of the sacrament. Three main reasons can be discerned in favour of the restoration of the permanent diaconate.
In the first place, the restoration of the diaconate as a proper degree of Holy Orders enabled the constitutive elements of the sacred hierarchy willed by God to be recognised. Secondly, it was a response to the need to guarantee indispensable pastoral care to communities which had been deprived of this because of a shortage of priests. Finally, it was a confirmation, a reinforcement and a more complete incorporation into the ministry of the Church of those who were already de facto exercising the ministry of deacons.
Six of the documents promulgated by Vatican II contain some teachings concerning the diaconate: The following paragraphs will cover the key elements of the teaching of Vatican II in order to identify more precisely the form or "figure" of the permanent diaconate which has been restored.
Vatican II recognised the diaconate as one of the sacred Orders. Lumen gentium 29a established that deacons belong to the lowest degree of the hierarchy in gradu inferiori hierarchiae sistunt diaconi.
They are "sustained by sacramental grace" gratia sacramentali roborati and receive the imposition of hands "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium". But this important expression, drawn from the Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua , and a variation on a still more ancient expression from the Traditio Apostolica of Hippolytus, is not explained anywhere in the conciliar documents. Vatican II taught that Christ instituted the sacred ministries for the nurturing and constant growth of the People of God.
Those ministers are endowed with a sacred power to serve the Body of Christ, so that all may arrive at salvation LG 18a. Like the other sacred ministers, deacons should therefore consecrate themselves to the growth of the Church and the pursuit of its plan of salvation.
Within the body of ministers, bishops, who possess the fullness of the priesthood, have taken up the service of the community, presiding in place of God over the flock as teachers, priests and shepherds. Deacons, with the priests, help the bishops in their ministry LG 20c. Belonging to the lowest order of the ministry, deacons grow in holiness through the faithful fulfilment of their ministry as a share in the mission of Christ the Supreme Priest. Although they occupy different ranks within the hierarchy, all three orders deserve to be called ministers of salvation AG 16a , exercising one single ecclesiastical ministry in the hierarchical communion.
Strictly speaking deacons belong to the mission of Christ, but not to that of the bishop or to that of the priest. However, the specific ways of exercising this participation are determined by the demands of the communion within the hierarchy. Far from degrading the orders of priest and deacon within the hierarchy, hierarchical communion situates them within the single mission of Christ, shared in by the different orders in different degrees.
The functions assigned to deacons by the Council also provide indications concerning the way it envisaged the diaconal order. It is good to remember that the basic function of all the sacred ministers, according to Vatican II, is to nurture the People of God and lead them to salvation. Thus Lumen gentium 29b declared that the permanent diaconate can be re-established if the competent authorities decide that it is opportune to choose deacons, even from among married men, pro cura animarum.
All the tasks which deacons are authorised to fulfil are at the service of the basic duty of building up the Church and taking care of the faithful. As for their specific tasks, Lumen gentium 29a presented the service which the deacon renders to the People of God in terms of the triple ministry of the liturgy, the word and charity.
The particular tasks of the deacon are seen as falling within the framework of one or other of these ministries. The ministry of the liturgy, or sanctification, is developed at length in Lumen gentium.
It includes the faculty of administering baptism solemnly cf. SC 68 , of being custodian and dispenser of the Eucharist, assisting at and blessing weddings in the name of the Church, bringing Viaticum to the dying, presiding over the worship and prayer of the faithful, administering sacramentals, and finally officiating at funeral and burial services.
The function of teaching includes reading the Sacred Scripture to the faithful, and instructing and exhorting the people.
Dei Verbum 25a and Sacrosanctum concilium 35 include deacons among those who are officially engaged in the ministry of the word. The ministry of "government" is not mentioned as such, but rather termed the ministry of charity. Administration is at least mentioned. It is clear that the function of the deacon as described by Lumen gentium is above all liturgical and sacramental.
Questions inevitably arise about the specific notion of diaconal ordination "non ad sacerdotium sed ad ministerium". The form of the diaconal ministry based on Lumen gentium invites a deeper exploration of the meaning of sacerdotium and ministerium.
Ad gentes gave a different configuration to the permanent diaconate, as can be seen by looking at the functions it assigned to it, probably because it sprang from the experience of mission territories. In the first place, Ad gentes contained little about the liturgical ministry of the deacon. Preaching the word of God was mentioned in connection with catechism teaching. What is called the ministry of "government" received broader treatment in Ad gentes 16f.
Deacons preside over scattered Christian communities in the name of the parish priest and the bishop. They also practice charity in social or relief work. Vatican II showed some hesitation in its description of the permanent diaconate which it was restoring. In the more doctrinal perspective of Lumen gentium, it tended to place the emphasis on the liturgical image of the deacon and his ministry of sanctification.
In the missionary perspective of Ad gentes, the focus shifted towards the administrative, charitable aspect of the figure of the deacon, and his ministry of government.
It is however interesting to note that nowhere did the Council claim that the form of the permanent diaconate which it was proposing was a restoration of a previous form.
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