Celibacy of Deacons
(07-11-2010, 10:07 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: While I am certain there are many good and committed permanent deacons, my sense from growing up in the modern Church and talking to these deacons as I considered my vocation was that they were trying to have the best of both worlds and really did not seriously consider whether they had a vocation. They wanted to serve the church and live their own lives, too, which really is the antithesis of the clerical state, in which a man is supposed to die to himself for the good of the faithful.

The impression I got, growing up in the modern Church, was that it was sort of a 'second chance' at a clerical vocation.  A guy could go ahead with a normal life, have a family, and then if volunteering a lot and being a reader and EMHC at Mass wasn't enough to satisfy his desire to serve, he could take the next step up to deacon.

That's probably entirely wrong, canonically and process-wise, but I think it's the impression many people get today.
I am aware that I could be one of the young men interested in religion, but not interested enough to be responsible for people's souls.
I love the mass, chant, apologetics...its just that people seem to like me alot, I always speak up in classes and such, I'm the one person everyone knew in high school especially, and they all knew I was Catholic, and I remember politely debating someone and I owned him.
I feel I've made to many public faux paus or however you spell it in the name of having fun and being liked and the priesthood is far removed from that.

I am aware I could put my chant, apologetics, traditional knowledge, to use as a clergyman though. I am aware the diaconate is not a half-clergyman. He is a clergyman. I know the concern with the diaconate being less respected and people thinking its a half-clergy position. But, before Vatican II the diaconate was a stepping stone someone had before they became a priest, so the only Roman Rite deacons in the world were only deacons for like six months. I imagine thus the diaconate was never properly used for a while.

But, a deacon it seems is more in the world than a priest, don't take me to mean that I mean he is a half-clergy, to use the term I just invented, but like Deacon Stettlemeyer from EWTN was a businessman. He had a job and such, were preists have their job, priesthood. If I was a married deacon, I would be the opposite kind from what Magister is talking about--praying the office daily, wearing a cassock, teaching catechism, doing charitable works, while having kids. I think thats why I've been thinking about diaconate, one, I'm scared to be a priest, two, I have and had no desire to be a priest, three, I still feel I could serve the church for the better, successfully, (people have told me I’m smart, which helps, and people tell me I know my stuff [Catholicism wise] and I know I can debate well since I’ve done it successfully before, so that’s what I mean.) and the diaconate is one w
(07-13-2010, 12:40 AM)randomtradguy Wrote: After Mhoram's truthful post, maybe I should stop thinking about diaconate.

I would rather see the diaconate sanctified by more traditional deacons, than to just forget about it altogether. It was one of the orders established by Christ Himself, and seeing it reduced to a senior slack-off year for seminarians entering the priesthood is just ridiculous. Especially when one considers how important the role of the deacon is in the Eastern liturgies. It is almost as though the deacon in those rites bridges the divide between the clergy and the laity (so I've read).
(07-13-2010, 11:46 PM)The_Harlequin_King Wrote:
(07-13-2010, 12:40 AM)randomtradguy Wrote: After Mhoram's truthful post, maybe I should stop thinking about diaconate.

I would rather see the diaconate sanctified by more traditional deacons, than to just forget about it altogether. It was one of the orders established by Christ Himself, and seeing it reduced to a senior slack-off year for seminarians entering the priesthood is just ridiculous. Especially when one considers how important the role of the deacon is in the Eastern liturgies. It is almost as though the deacon in those rites bridges the divide between the clergy and the laity (so I've read).


As I had mentioned, I sometimes visit a small Greek Orthodox mission parish, which until recently had a deacon, and they have a very substantial role in the Divine Liturgy, almost all the prayers of petition are chanted by the deacon.  Without a deacon the priest chants those prayers, if he has a deacon he remains at the altar and chants other prayers.

As a sidebar (and reference to the “Are all Trads mute? Thread http://catholicforum.fisheaters.com/index.php/topic,3431102.0.html, there is no such thing as a “low liturgy” in the East.  I’ve been to Divine Liturgies where they were only 6 or 8 people in the congregation, still all the responses were chanted by the people (doesn’t have to be done “well”, just needs to be done, and it gets better with experience) and incensing was done at all the appointed times.  The only difference I noted was that the priest might “switch” from English to Greek and move through things a bit quicker.

I was just reading in my diocesan (Spokane, WA) newspaper (Inland Register) a story about our retiring Bishop’s (Most. Rev. William Skylstad) First Solemn Mass at his home parish of Sacred Heart in Brewster, WA, which was held in the public school gymnasium, to accommodate the 300 people in attendance (I’m guessing the church holds about 100, it is in a very small rural town), on July 17, 1960.  The deacon was a monsignor, and the sub deacon was another priest of the diocese.  The only “concession” to the role and value of the minor orders was that a seminarian was the MC.  The bishop’s mother was the organist.

The Acts of the Apostles seems to clearly indicate that the diaconate is a distinct and permanent order in its own right.  If God wished it otherwise I’m thinking he would have had St. Stephen become a priest before he was stoned, but that’s just my opinion.  So, all this talk that permanent deacons are just guys who want to be “mini priests” or to have orders and the marital bed also is drivel, but again, that’s just my humble opinion.  The diaconate, as recorded in Acts, is an order of service, rather than a pastoral office.  I can concur with the OP that there are many who may hear a call to serve the church, in both temporal and liturgical aspects, but may not feel they have the spiritual gifts to be responsible for other’s souls (I can think of a few priests who would be better deacons than pastors, in this respect).

This is not a new “dilemma” in the life of the Church.  The cited SSPX article notwithstanding, I’m still of the mind that celibacy is a disciplinary rather than a doctrinal issue (which doesn’t take away from the value and virtue of it in any way, and all the married men here who have been busy trying to squire some of the single men  here off to seminary ought to be meditating themselves on St. Paul’s admonition that it is better for men [and thereby women  ;D] to remain unmarried in any event).  If the permanent diaconate had not been opened to men already in the state of matrimony, there would be few suitable men in many parishes available for that ministry, and the whole restoration would have probable become a “non-starter”.  Almost immediately the question would be raised well, you are male, and single, why don’t you just become a priest?, as if these are the primary requirements for a priest (being male is a primary requirement, of course, but not all males would make good priests), and the fact that some seem to think along those lines might have something to do with the quality of some of the priests we have.  It’s a dilemma that communities of men religious (Brothers) have always faced:  “Why be just a Brother, if you are male and single, why not be a priest?”.

Likewise, as MagisterMusicae sagely noted, being devote and having an interest in a religious life is something ALL good Catholics should be about, it is not (together with being single) an indication that one must hustle themselves off to seminary or convent.

I am thankful for the restoration of the ministry of the diaconate at the parish level.  I hope and pray that the minor orders (and perhaps even the sub-diaconate) are restored there also.  I think it will greatly enrich the apostolate and liturgical life of the Church.  If these orders had remained active in parish life, as they once were, rather than having morphed into ceremonial stepping stones in the seminary and monastery, perhaps we wouldn’t have had the feminization of Church life, that so many trads decry (and I, in no way, mean to imply that there are not a multitude of valuable and necessary apostolates for women to perform in the life of the Church).
We have two permanent deacons (married) who are employed at our church. Part-time, because now they are both retired from their former jobs; they didn't become deacons until later in life (the norm for the archdiocese). They pray the office daily with our pastor, they do not wear clerical garb.

At neighboring parishes that are larger and more affluent, however, there are younger deacons who are hired full time. I think this is the ideal and the goal of every permanent deacon, celibate or married. It's not that he wants one foot in the church and the other foot in the world. If he had his druthers he'd be working full time in ministry. But if he still has a family to raise, that's pretty hard to do on a church salary alone.

The two deacons at our parish worked for the Church in some capacity for most of their working lives; at the Archdiocese in Catholic Charities and for the Franciscan newspaper, so their hearts were already devoted to serving the Church. Now they work at our parish doing marriage prep, religious ed, RCIA, sick calls, helping the priest with liturgy, etc. For our parish that does not equate to full time hours. So it's perfect for retired men, or single men who live simply.

We are all called to serve the Church in some way. The diaconate is one of the oldest ways and is unique in its calling. They are not "wanna-be priests."

You will not be excommunicated if you become a married deacon.  The SSPX has ZERO authority to make a wild ass claim of excommunication in this regard.  Married Clergy is a discipline. The Church has the authority to change disciplines, and they changed this discipline BACK to allowing married deacons in the Latin Rite. 

Also note, deacons are not peculiar to a particular rite.  You can be ordained a deacon in the Latin Rite and serve in the Eatern Rites as a deacon, or visa versa.  It's not complicated like switching rites as priest.
For anyone interested you may want to read "Married Men as Ordained Deacons" by Schamoni.  This book traces the beginnings of the restoration of the permanent diaconate to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.  In the camps, priests began to discuss what was for them 'missing' in the church.  The common theme, the Church had lost the icon of Christ the Servant.  Deacons become deacons to serve.  I am lucky to have close relationships with some of the first deacons to be ordained after the restoration.  From what I understand, the role is demanding and there is little appreciation or respect (although that is changing).  Truly one who becomes a deacon must have enough love to wash his brother's feet without any particular notice from anyone else that he has even done so.  Please pray for the deacons in the Western Church and the continued evolution of the role of the diaconate both in the NO and the TLM. 
Greetings to all;  I'm new to this forum, and have read this thread with some interest.  I would suggest there are a couple of misconceptions and I would very much like to clarify if I can a couple of points.  By way of introduction, I am a permanent deacon , and while I realize there are some differences in particular 'practices' (with regard to dress and address of deacons) from diocese to diocese, there are some things that are specified in Canon Law and in Church documents.

Permanent deacons 'can' be married. However, if they are single or widowed when they are ordained, then they must make a promise of celibacy as part of their ordination .

Permanent deacons are not 'part-time' clergy.  They are 'full time' in their state in life, which is, by virtue of Holy Orders, a cleric.  Perhaps I can illustrate this further -  a priest is not simply a priest only when he is 'doing' priestly things - he is a priest always, because he has ontologically changed at the moment of his ordination.
It is the same with a deacon - he is to bring his special charism with him into his three munera or ministry areas - a ministry of Sacrament , a ministry of The Word, and a ministry of Charity.

It is required in Canon Law that once ordained a deacon, he must pray the Liturgy of the Hours (at the very minimum) for the Morning and Evening Hours.  (as a side note, I and many of those ordained in our class three years ago pray the full office)

With regard to clerical dress - in some diocese permanent deacons are not permitted to wear 'the collar' - in others they are; this is where particular law seems to hold sway - in my diocese, we are to wear the collar if it is of benefit in ministry (nursing homes, prisons, hospitals, or in certain liturgical functions - funeral vigils, etc

This should not be confused with liturgical dress;  the proper  attire for the deacon at Mass is the alb, cincture, stole and dalmatic.  I wear these vestments at every Mass that I assist at.  I would suggest if anyone needs clarification on this, they read Redemptionis Sacramentum - it is quite clear that the proper vestment for deacons (dalmatic) and priests (chasuble) should be worn at all Masses - not some 'minimalist' wearing of stoles only ...

I noted in some earlier posts that writers had somewhat negative interactions with 'some' deacons who seemed to be interested in a having  the 'best of both worlds'.  That is very unfortunate.  I can only suggest that I have had a similar experience with some priests, who are not , it would seem, terribly dedicated to their parish or ministry and feel that the world 'owes' them something because they made a promise of celibacy.  I can only offer this:
A true vocation is a call from God, and it is up to the individual to seek wise council in discerning that call.  A call to the permanent diaconate is no less a vocational call from God, and while some may not be ready to accept this, I can assure you that after a lengthy discernment process, and five years of formation which included ongoing discernment, that I am convinced that the permanent diaconate is exactly what God was calling me to, as opposed to the priesthood - for whatever reason: it is not up to me to question God's reasons or demand an explanation: it is simply up to me to either respond or not.  I chose to respond with a 'yes' and hope and pray that God will grant me the necessary graces to continue to live out my life (and yes I am married) as His humble and willing servant.

I know that was a lot to throw out there for my first post on this forum.  Thank you all for your kindness and hospitality and patience with my somewhat lengthy input.

God bless and keep well

Welcome, DC. Great post, first or not. I just wanted to clarify that I agree that deacons are not "part time" clergy. The two at our parish are simply hired part time as paid employees. But their service and state of life are full time and always, of course.
DC Wrote:(as a side note, I and many of those ordained in our class three years ago pray the full office)

Bravo!  :clap:

Bishop: "Do you resolve to ... celebrate faithfully the liturgy of the hours [sic] with and for the People of God and indeed for the whole world?"
Candidate: "I do."

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