40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic–BONUS POST

Here I though I had everything planned out.  40 days of Lent.  40 posts.  Everything was just fine until I got to this weekend and realized that there are a lot more than 40 reasons for Catholic coolness.  But the list got shuffled over the last few weeks and here I am with five days left and six posts. So today is a bonus.  I’ll post the regularly scheduled topic later, but here’s another thing that’s cool.  As Catholics we always get more than we expect.

Today’s bonus reason why it’s cool to be Catholic is permanent deacons.  I almost left out my own vocation.  Doh!  Actually, we were on the list from the very beginning, but something else came along that bumped deacons to number 41.  Be that as it may, here’s why deacons make it cool to be Catholic.   Where the priest is ordained for the Eucharist, permanent deacons are ordained for service.

At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.  So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.  Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.   They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.  Acts 6: 1-6

Deacons work alongside priests and are responsible to the local bishop.  We receive the sacrament of Holy Orders, just like priests, but we’re ordained to serve.  Service includes assisting the priest (or bishop) at mass.  There are certain parts of the mass that are reserved for deacons and some that are optional.  For example, reading the Gospel is the deacon’s job.  Giving a homily may be done by either the priest or by the deacon.  In some dioceses including my own Archdiocese of Saint Louis, deacons don’t automatically receive preaching faculties when they’re ordained.  It takes a year of service as an ordained deacon and another class to receive them.

A deacon is never an adequate substitute for a priest.  We can’t say mass.  We can’t administer the sacrament of reconciliation.  We can’t anoint the sick.  What we can do is perform other tasks that normally take up the priests’ time, freeing them up to do the things that only they can do.  Deacons visit prisons, we visit hospitals, we work with the elderly and the poor.  There deacons ministering to travelers at many airports and here in Saint Louis we even have a deacon whose ministry is a local truck stop.

There are deacons who teach in schools and in parish schools of religion and deacons who catechize people wanting to join the Church.  We prepare couples for marriage and work with families as they have their children baptized.  And, most of us maintain a secular job, providing a presence of the Church in the workplace.

And we pray.  Twice a day we pray the Liturgy of the Hours and we pray for you.

I’m not very comfortable telling you how great I am, because, frankly, I’m not.  I’m just a guy who heard God calling me to do more for Him and for His Church.  Like everyone else, some deacons are living, breathing saints and some  of us are just happy to serve.  One aspect of deacon coolness is that the vocation accepts married men.  If you’re a man, 35 years old or older, you might be called to the diaconate.  It’s something that’s worth spending the time to discuss with God in your prayers.

If you’re a woman, or if you’re a man who isn’t called to this particular vocation, it’s still cool that the Church restored the permanent diaconate after Vatican II.  There are about 16,000 permanent deacons in the United States, roughly 1 for every 2 priests.  Even though most of us serve on a part-time basis, that’s still a lot of men doing a lot of work for the Church; most of it without compensation.

Some of us do work that frees up our pastors to do other things and some of us do things that wouldn’t get done were it not for deacons.

You have to admit, that’s pretty cool.

 

Personal note:  I know there’s not a married deacon who won’t tell you that it would be impossible to have any kind of diaconal ministry without the loving support of a wife who keeps things going at home while we’re out doing our deacon thing.  I’m no exception.  I couldn’t do this without my wife’s help.  As I write this she’s out working in the yard.  On behalf of deacons everywhere, thank you ladies for making our ministries possible.

 

 

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6 Responses

  1. I find this post very helpful and learned more than I ever have about deacons. Thanks for the research and great writing.

  2. Thank you Seriously you make me a better person (And that ain’t easy.) Love ya.

  3. […] 40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic – BONUS POST (deaconcast.com) […]

  4. You say that, “If you’re a man, 35 years old or older, you might be called to the diaconate.” Do you have to be this old to be a deacon?

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