Deacons quickly learn God’s Word is not authentically proclaimed by just being on the altar for Mass; it is preached in the holiness of the actions of their lives. Therefore, the words spoken to the deacon at Ordination are a comfort and challenge: “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
The question is best answered considering “who is the deacon called to be?” Deacons are a sacramental sign of “Christ the Servant” through the three-fold ministry of Word, Liturgy, and Charity to the People of God, in communion with the Bishop and his priests.
In the Ministry of the Word, the deacon serves as evangelizer and teacher in the Church’s mission of heralding the Word, through the proclamation of the Gospel, catechetical instruction, and sacramental preparation. He must also strive to transmit the Word in his professional life by his active presence in places where public opinion is formed, and ethical norms are applied.
In the Ministry of Liturgy, the deacon is a grace-filled sign of the integral connection between sharing at the Eucharistic table and serving the many hungers felt by God’s children.
In the Ministry of Charity, the deacon is called to be a witness. His service in the ministry of Word and Liturgy would be severely deficient if his witness in the Church’s ministry of charity did not accompany it. Saint John Paul II affirmed: “This is the very heart of the diaconate to which you have been called: to be a servant of the mysteries of Christ and, at one and the same time, to be a servant of your brothers and sisters.”
The ministries the deacon may carry out include promoting and sustaining the apostolic activities of the laity.
By Deacon Joe Gassman, Secretary for Leadership & Parish Life – June 15, 2022