Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Deacon

Encourage & Teach: 3 Priceless Pillars after 3 Years of Diaconal Service

GospelIt was one of the most profound moments of my life. The Bishop laid his hands on my head during the rite of ordination and everything changed. There were no fireworks, no tongues of fire, the heavens were not rent open and no voice was heard (as far as I know). My personal experience was one of a sense of peace and a sense that this was right and necessary for me to be whole…(Read more)

Encourage & Teach: The Service of Permanent Deacons

ordinationBy: Deacon Marques Silva

From a young age, my parents taught us that service is the duty of every Christian. It was not merely words, but lived out in their daily experience. In fact, I cannot say that we only served on certain holy days or for particular events for the reason that it was a way of life for our family. This love to assist behind the scenes stayed with me as I went off to college, married, and started our family.

Then I was invited by my wife and kids (I did not see it coming) to apply for the permanent diaconate here in the Diocese of Arlington. My question was, “Why?” when I could serve just as well as a lay person. (Read more…)

Clergy Congregation Lauds Diaconate Directory

Archbishop: Document Gives Basis for Renewal

LANCASTER, England, FEB. 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Congregation for Clergy is praising the recent publication of a Directory for the Permanent Diaconate by the Diocese of Lancaster.

Archbishop Celso Iruzubieta, the congregation’s secretary, wrote a Jan. 17 letter affirming that this directory “is clear, concise and presents unambiguously the obligations of permanent deacons along with principles that should assist in possible areas of difficulty,” Kristos Media reported.

The prelate added, “The manner in which the particular charge of the priest, namely the cura animarum, and in which the relationship of the deacons with the lay faithful is considered provides a positive basis for the right praxis that governs various responsibilities in the Church, in accord with her doctrine and discipline.”

Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue, former head of the Lancaster Diocese, commissioned a report of the Fit for Mission? Permanent Diaconate Review Group. His successor, Bishop Michael Campbell, oversaw the publication of the resulting directory three years later.

Archbishop Iruzubieta noted that this document “ought to provide a solid basis for the renewal of the formation of candidates for the permanent diaconate, and for the ongoing formation of those who have already assumed this sacred office.”

Bishop Campbell responded, “It is very encouraging that the congregation has given its endorsement to our Directory for the Permanent Diaconate.”

Gift of the Spirit

He continued: “It is a welcome recognition of the years of work, reflection and prayer that have gone into its creation by priests, permanent deacons and laity in the Diocese of Lancaster.

“I take very seriously the future development of this sacred ministry, seeing the permanent diaconate as a gift of the Holy Spirit to help the Church humbly serve our society, particularly the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized.”

In the introduction to the directory, the bishop noted that the restoration of the permanent diaconate “in the life of the Church by Vatican II as a permanent order open to single and married men restores to the hierarchy men’s rich experience of married love, the family and the world of work.”

“In the light of this,” he continued, “I very much share the opinion of the venerable Pope John Paul II when he describes the permanent diaconate as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the modern Church.”

“However,” the prelate stated, “like all gifts of the Holy Spirit in Christian life, it takes time and experience to begin to appreciate the true nature of what has been given.”

He affirmed, “We are only gradually realizing and dealing with the challenges and possibilities that are being offered to the Church by the gift of the permanent diaconate.”

— — —

On the Net:

Directory for the Permanent Diaconate: http://www.lancasterdiocese.org.uk/Images/DiaconateDirectory.pdf

Update: Liturgical Literacy and the Deacon’s Dalmatic

So, I posed a few questions to Fr. Z at What Does the Prayer Really Say? blog.  He was very generous to turn the answer around in under a day, THANKS!  Here is his reply:

QUAERITUR: Of subdeacons and tunics

From a deacon reader:

I was in the middle of some research last night and discovered some new tidbits on vestments. More precisely, the difference between a dalmatic and a tunicle. I captured a number of my thoughts on my blog (marques.silvaclan.net). Anyway, here are my questions:

* When celebrating the Extraordinary Form (EF) are the Subdeacons wearing tunicles or dalmatics? [Tunicles or tunics]
* Since the tunicle was abrogated in 1969, presumably because of the suppression of the minor orders, is it still the appropriate vestment for a Subdeacon in the present EF? [Tunicle is the vestment of the subdeacon.  If there is a man serving as a subdeacon in a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form, he puts on a tunic.]
* With the ever-growing popularity of the EF, do you think that there is a need to ensure that Deacons are only wearing dalmatics and not tunicles (they seem to have become one and the same)? [Once in a while you can’t tell them apart.]

Sometimes you will see that classy vestments having sleeves with slightly different decoration.  For example, one will have two “stripes”, and the other just one.  This distinguishes the dalmatic and the tunic.  Most older sets will have some distinguishing sign.

Here is a more modern set of solemn Mass vestments.  You can see that the dalmatic has two stripes and the tunic one.

Another example:

Which is which?  Easy.

But some sets don’t distinguish, perhaps because pieces were lost or the makers, designers didn’t make a tunic, and the garments are identical.  Some more modern sets may have just two dalmatics (both with two stripes)

In that case, as soon as the deacon puts on his garment he is putting on his dalmatic and when the subdeacon puts on his his is putting on his tunic… even though they are identical.

In this shot the vestments are the same, but clearly the guy on right is wearing a dalmatic by the fact that he is the deacon, and the guy on the left is wearing a tunic by the fact that he is subdeacon.  It becomes a matter of pure coincidence that the garments are the same.

So too here.  If this is a Solemn Mass with the 1962 Missal, one of these guys is wearing a tunic that looks like a dalmatic.  If it Novus Ordo… well… if they are both deacons, then I guess they are both dalamtics.

Here you can see which one is the deacon.  He’s got more stuff on him.

When a bishop puts on his pontifical vestments, the first one he puts on is the tunic, even though there isn’t any difference between it and the next one he puts on.

Preserved Killick would be able to explain this:  “Which when he put’s it on, it’s a tunic, ain’t it, ya grass-combing lubber?”

Think of it this way.  When Jack Aubrey, of the celebrated series, while still just a commander took command of a brig-rigged vessel, that vessel became a sloop, by the fact of his being in command.

Clear?

Anyway… the tunic was “suppressed” in 1969?  Pah!  Piffle, I say!

Let tunic abound.  Where ever there be Solemn Masses and, therefore, the role of subdeacon, let that subdeacon wear his tunic with distinction and pride!

And as far as the question of the suppression of the subdeacon is concerned, sure, let’s all read together Paul VI’s Ministeria quaedam.

Having read that, I have to ask, when the Holy See gives permission to the Fraternity of St. Peter to ordain subdeacons… what happens?  Are they subdeacons or aren’t they?  If they are, then I think they should put on the tunic they were ordained in.  If they aren’t subdeacons… what are they doing?  Pretending to ordain?  Would the Holy See sanction a pretend ordination?  Unlikely.  We have the use of the 1962 Missal.  Someone has to fill the role of the subdeacon.  When someone does that, he wears the tunic.

This isn’t hard.

Liturgical Literacy and the Deacon’s Dalmatic

I am always amazed at what I discover when I am not looking for what I find. I know, that sounds ridiculous but these precious nuggets of information are what fill my simple mind with joy. Since ordination, I have been given a few dalmatics (Thanks everyone!)…or what I thought were dalmatics. Turns out, to my delight, I discovered I also own tunicles. Never heard of a tunicle, read on!

Establishing a Lexicon of Vesture

Dalmatic

The dalmatic takes its name from its territory of origin, Dalmatia. If it sounds familiar, you probably are recalling those lovely dogs, dalmatians. And, you would be correct. Dalmatics and dalmatians both are from Dalmatia, which is a historic region of Croatia along the Adriatic Sea. In antiquity, the dalmatic was the clothing of rank and prestige worn by only the most privileged and outstanding members in society.

Tunicle

Related to the dalmatic is the tunicle which was

developed in the same design in ancient Rome, where it is was worn within the villa, never to be seen outdoors. Ancient graffiti illustrate the tunicle as something akin to a lounging suit or caftan, showing it being worn during meals.[1]

The tunicle and dalmatic were almost identical save the difference in weight and “later on, in degree of ornamentation.”[2]

From Secular to the Sacred

Both garments entered the Church liturgy, though the dalmatic was first adopted five centuries earlier during the fourth century. Most historians agree that Pope St. Sylvester in A.D. 332 committed the dalmatic to the Sacred Order of Deacons. Some historians argue that Pope Symmachus of Sardo granted the privilege in A.D. 506, but it is impossible to verify the truth with certainty. Regardless, what is important is that the dalmatic was universally accepted by the early Church as a distinct vestment of importance for the Church.

The tunicle on the other hand, was not as a liturgical vestment until A.D. 829. It was assigned to the rank of Subdeacon once the minor orders were uniformly established. It is to Pope Gregory IV that the firm establishment of the tunicle is credited.

Bishops used the dalmatic and tunicle as part of their required vesture underneath the chasuble from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. With the 1969 liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, came a change in vesture. The tunicle was abolished for Bishops and the minor orders were suppressed; therefore, the tunicle was abandoned to liturgical history books. Bishops may, to this day, wear the dalmatic under the chasuble. It has become something of a tradition for many of them to wear the dalmatic during diaconal ordinations. Thus, the Bishop illustrates the relationship of the Deacon to the Bishop – close to his heart.

Design

As previously mentioned, the dalamatic and tunicle are of similar design. So, what is the essential difference between the two?

The dalmatic is a vestment open on each side with wide sleeves and marked with two stripes. It is rich in ornamentation and during the liturgy always matches the color of the celebrant’s chasuble in color.[3]

Additionally, the tunicle was always lightweight and of little ornamentation. Since the Order of Subdeacon has been suppressed, it is no longer used except during the Extraordinary Rite of the Divine Liturgy.

Interestingly enough, most deacons today actually wear a tunicle and not a dalmatic. In fact, among the gifts I received for ordination, I actually only received three dalmatics while the other three are properly tunicles. I would have never known the difference but for the research I was committed to last night.

For the most part, at least on the diocesan level, Priests and Deacons neither know the difference nor do they care. As a rule, probably more by way of local custom, the tunicle and dalmatic have become one and the same in liturgical use. Most clergy define a dalmatic in the most general sense, sleeves and open on the sides.

Rubrics and Usage

When is the dalmatic to be worn? The 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) in paragraph 338 instructs:

The vestment proper to the deacon is the dalmatic, worn over the alb and stole. The dalmatic may, however, be omitted out of necessity or on account of a lesser degree of solemnity.[4]

To date, many Deacons use the alb and stole as their primary vesture during the Divine Liturgy. Others use the Principal of Progressive Solemnity in accordance with GIRM 119b as their rule of thumb for usage of the dalmatic. Practically speaking, this means that the dalmatic is used (if one owns one or the parish provides it) on Sundays and Solemnities. And, this is a noble and worthy practice.

New Considerations

While I am not opposed to the Principle of Progressive Solemnity, I have begun to rethink it after re-reading the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament 19 March 2004 Instruction: Remptionis Sacramentum. In particular, paragraph 125 which instructs:

The proper vestment of the Deacon is the dalmatic, to be worn over an alb and stole. In order that the beautiful tradition of the Church may be preserved, it is praiseworthy to refrain from exercising the option of omitting the dalmatic.[5]

This instruction was a follow-up to Servant of God Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia that aimed at correcting abuses and fostering a greater understating of the Blessed Sacrament’s essential centrality in the life of the Church. The instruction is also linked to his Apostolic Letter Spiritus et Sponsa where in paragraph 16, he earnestly desires that a

“liturgical spirituality” be developed that makes people conscious that Christ is the first “liturgist” who never ceases to act in the Church and in the world through the Paschal Mystery continuously celebrated, and who associates the Church with himself, in praise of the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

This new instruction (six years old at this point) seems to indicate, when possible, that the Deacon is to always wear the dalmatic during the Divine Liturgy. I believe as the Western Church continues to reflect and deepens its theology of the Deacon, we will see that just as the chasuble is to the Priest and Bishop, the dalmatic is to the Deacon.

Practicalities…

For a number of really good reasons, I would venture to guess that most churches in my diocese do not have a full set of dalmatics for Deacons to wear. Transitional deacons are ordained usually a year after ordination to the diaconate making the cost prohibitive. And let’s be honest, not every church gets a Transitional deacon for their pastoral year. Why should they make such expensive purchases during a recession (I wouldn’t)?

Additionally, in our diocese, the first Permanent deacons in twenty-two years were just ordained. It is less likely that they will be buying a full set of dalmatics. Why? Well, simply because they have families and cannot afford to purchase a full set in the array of liturgical colors. Also, let’s be honest. Pastors realize that clergy are picky about their vestments. On the other hand, beggars cannot be choosers.

Noble Simplicity

After my research, I am convinced that Deacons should be in a dalmatic at every liturgy. That being said, we really need to raise the bar on our vestments (I will only speak to my brothers). The liturgy is our chief catechetical tool and it should engage the entire human person. We are designed to desire the good, true and beautiful.

I think that some have confused noble simplicity with simply ugly. The New Liturgical Movement blog dispels erroneous ideas of noble simplicity by quoting Liturgiologist Edmund Bishop who says,

Ritus nobili simplicitate fulgeant…” Nobili simplicitate. Noble simplicity. It is a concept that, like participatio actuosa, is oft quoted, but it is also one that often comes laden with certain assumptions as to its meaning and expression; assumptions which are sometimes expressed by a kind of rigid minimalism, or other times misunderstood in a rupturous sense of a rejection of the past and past expressions, and still again often equated with a kind of sterility, as though being bereft of ceremony, colour, warmth or ornament was of necessity for its pursuit.

On the contrary, Shawn Tribe in the same article entitled, Noble Simplicity and the Liturgiologist Edmund Bishop, reminds us that noble simplicity should be understood in the context of how Sacrosanctum Concilum speaks of the “sacred arts being characterized by a ‘noble beauty’.” We are Catholics not Quakers. Our understanding of simplicity is that it is not ostentatious but of ornamental beauty in fabric and design that befits the dignity and beauty of the Sacred Liturgy.

Final Thought(s)

The Western Church is still adjusting to the re-instituted order of Permanent Deacons. We are also still recovering from an ecumenical council. Change is never easy but the Lord continues to bend our wills that they may be united to the heart of the Church.

And lastly, we also might consider purchasing dalmatics and not tunicles. The Extraordinary Rite is here to stay and is becoming more and more popular. Let’s try not to confuse the faithful with our vestments as well, we owe them noble simplicity without having to think hard.


[1] James-Charles Noonan, The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church (New York: Viking Adult, 1996), 343-44.

[2] Ibid.

[3] John Walsh, Mass and Vestments of the Catholic Church, Reprint ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1916), page 343

[4] cf. 119b, 336

[5] Cf. Missale Romanum, Institutio Generalis, n. 338

Update: Rethinking Liturgical Roles

Marie asked yesterday for a clarification. She wrote:

“If the exposition is to be interrupted, the deacon (or in his absence, a priest, even the presiding minister) immediately removes the blessed sacrament from the monstrance and places it in the tabernacle.”

This states an exception but not the rule.  I agree with you on the role of a deacon, but I would like to see documentation of the rule not the exception in regards to this.  Can you research more?

No problem and thanks for requesting the clarification! Since  I have the Ordo (Order for the Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist) sitting right here in front of me, here we go. In paragraphs 31 (within the liturgy) and 120 (outside of the liturgy), the Ordo reads:

Immediately after the distribution of communion, the monstrance is placed on the altar. The deacon (or, in his absence, a priest, even the celebrant himself) places the host in the monstrance. If desired, the monstrance may be placed on a throne.

The instruction is similar in paragraph 39 (Exposition outside of Mass at the beginning of the Divine Office):

If the blessed sacrament is not exposed, the deacon (or, in his absence, a priest, even the presiding minister) brings it to the altar and places it in the monstrance.

Again, the instruction repeats itself and is consistent, using the same language i.e.” …the deacon (or, in his absence, a priest, even the presiding minister) brings it to the altar and places it in the monstrance.” The positive instruction for Reposition can also be found in paragraphs 131 (Closing inside of Mass) and 149 (outside of Mass), using the same language, which states:

The deacon (or, in his absence, a priest, even the celebrant himself) removes the blessed sacrament from the monstrance and places it in the tabernacle.

Conclusion: Deacons expose and repose even when they are not the presiding minister or a priest is present. Hopefully this fulfills your request for the positive instruction.

Re-thinking Liturgical Roles…

This past Monday, my Pastor and I were kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament preparing for Reposition. During the singing of the Tantum Ergo, he turned to me and asked, “Do deacons repose the Blessed Sacrament?” I replied, “I have no idea. You are wearing the humeral veil… don’t you?”  We shrugged our shoulders and continued as usual with him reposing and placing our Lord back into the tabernacle. Afterward, he asked me to research his question.

So, I did. I was surprised to discover that it is the deacon who exposes and reposes our Lord even if a priest is present and/or he is not the presiding minister. The Order for the Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist in paragraph 51, concerning reposition states:

If the exposition is to be interrupted, the deacon (or in his absence, a priest, even the presiding minister) immediately removes the blessed sacrament from the monstrance and places it in the tabernacle.

Paragraph31 in the ritual also states the same – even if the period of exposition begins during Holy Mass.

Once I shared my findings, a close friend asked, “How do we explain this to the parishioners since it would appear that the deacon is of a higher rank than the priest? Is it that deacons are like worker bees?” Initially I said said, “Sure” because it was a quick answer but then I realized the great disservice that would be perpetuated by such an analogy. So, I thought through a different answer and composed an email.

If you would permit me, I would like to share the email (although this version is cleaned up – DQ should never quickly write an email and hit send without proofing it, especially at 7 am):

Philoeucharista,

I thought about the worker bee image as an analogy to illustrate the relationship of service between a deacon and priest, especially during adoration. I think while the worker bee image makes it easier for everyone to understand, it is an incorrect one. I think the real challenge is that we are looking for the most efficient way to explain this relationship which translates to the quickest way and, thus, falls short of the theological truths that reveal the vocation.

The following explanation is longer to give to someone but I think it is much closer to the truth. The risk of the worker bee analogy is that it can easily cheapen the dignity of the vocation. It is like saying my wife is just a housekeeper or we are just admin assistants.The worker bee image implies a group working for the good of the whole completing whatever task is assigned to them. The service of the deacon, especially during a liturgy, has a very specific focus and service.

The role of the deacon is to serve the priest in all things that pertain to the altar and the liturgy. It is not a case of dignity (priest is higher than the deacon or that the deacon works for the priest) but a case of function. This type of service is what we were ordained for. The following is the mental challenge that I believe we need to overcome:

Many of the liturgical actions that our priests have been ministering are by way of exception not ministerial duty.

Our current state finds us positioned in such a way that particular duties have been ascribed to priests that are not part of their ministerial priesthood. Why can they function in them and not the laity? They were ordained deacons first. The greater can always serve in a lesser position, but not the other way around. Those who are not ordained have been a special gift to the Church – our Lord provided in our need. For these reasons, the pervasive attitude (which we have discussed multiple times) that Extraordinary Ministers of Readers and Holy Communion demand they have a right to serve and be seen, or to serve when and how they want – I find offensive. Not because I am ordained, but because none of us ever have a right to serve whether we are laity or clergy. The Church suspended a number of liturgical laws and traditions that date back to 494 (Leonine Laws) in order to find a way to assist the priest until the institutes (Instituted Lectors and Acolytes) and order (Deacons) could be reestablished – then phase the extraordinary ministries out. But sadly, and mostly because of lack of training and boundaries, everyone believes these are permanent delegations and they have a right to serve in these ministries.

Priests are ordained for sacrifice which is directly linked to the forgiveness of sins and governance. Deacons are neither coming in to take over priestly actions and duties, nor are we married “wanna be priests”. Some liturgical actions, or duties, were never intended to be fulfilled by them. But, as you know, the deprivation in vocations to the Permanent Diaconate has been basically lacking for 22 years in the diocese (Add to the fact that it was suppressed for 1000 years in the Western Church and we are all still learning how to relate to one another).

Within the liturgy, there are certain tasks and duties that are more perfectly seen and understood by someone serving in persona Christi[1] The deacon provides a sacramental image of Christ the Servant.

Deacon Rex H. Pilger, Jr., Ph.D. in describing the duties that are part and parcel of the deacon’s ministry, also reminds us that a priest and bishop are also deacons,

The munera[2] bestowed on the deacon: proclaiming, preaching, and teaching the Gospel, administering baptism, receiving wedding vows, burying the dead, custodian of the Most Blessed Sacrament, viaticum to the dying, care of the sick, and concern for the poor are still very much the responsibility of the priest and bishop. (The latter, of course, confers the munera.)[3]

This must be understood properly in order to maintain a clear functional and ontological separation between the deacon and the presbyterate/episcopate whose ministry is ordered to sacrifice. While service always requires self-donation, priests (includes bishops) through their actions and words (This is my body…) sacramentally offer themselves through a complete donation as Christ the Priest.

I think a greater temptation for our parish is not that the deacon is higher than the priest but “Why do we need deacons? Laypeople can do whatever needs to be done.” The sacramental grace communicated at ordination provides the Church with a living sign or a living icon of Christ the Servant. The deacon’s simple service of the altar, word and charity is wrapped up in the word serve.

Here again, Deacon Pilger sheds some light on the “why” which may be seen in the:

practical dimensions of diaconal ministry. In the Roman Rite, deacons, together with bishops and priests, are ordinary ministers of Baptism. And, it is through the initial sacrament that the call of Christ the Servant comes: the baptized are called to serve God and neighbor. It is through diakonia that the minister of Baptism — bishop, priest, deacon, or even, in emergency, a layperson — communicates the call. At the beginning of Mass, the deacon may lead the assembly in penitence — pleading the mercy of Christ on his people — the (non-sacramental) forgiveness of sins….. At the altar, the deacon visibly serves, and, as he kneels from the Epiclesis through the first elevation of the chalice, leads the rest of the assembly in adoration as Christ becomes especially Real under the appearance of the gifts of bread and wine. (The deacon’s ordination also involved an epiclesis over the kneeling ordinand, the invocation of the Holy Spirit that strengthens the gifts received at Confirmation.) The deacon elevates and ministers the chalice, the Blood of the new Covenant, shed for the forgiveness of sins. He invites the Sign of Peace. And, finally, he may dismiss the faithful with the most appropriate commission: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

The three orders serving in their unique liturgical roles together, provide an HD picture of the person of Christ and the Blessed Trinity. I do not think these are the exact words we need to say but what we need to communicate. I hope this helps. Thanks for asking the question. Maybe we can continue the discussion to figure out the best way to “package the message” for those who have questions.

DQ


[1] Omnium in Mentum, October 26, 2009: Article II makes a clarification to separate the ministerial functions of the Bishop/Priest and deacons “Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity”. Presently, there is an argument concerning the nature of the clarification. The understanding of this author, who entrusting himself to the explanations of the diaconal formation team and canonists, is that the deacon serves in persona Christi by way of imageo dei and not as capitas or the head.

[2] Munera: assigned service, function, duty

[3] Pilger, Jr., Ph.D, Rex H., Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA, November 2006 (pp 23-27)

What’s in a Blessing: Latin Rite Deacons

Well, I have survived the first week. Yep, you betcha! One week ago, by the grace of God the Father, Bishop Paul S. Loverde, ordinary of the Diocese of Arlington, counted me among the sixteen men he ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons. I am still reflecting on the profundity of the day and what it means to be ontologically changed – that’s another post!

In the meantime, my assignment to St. Mary of Sorrows in Fairfax, started upon ordination. I served my first Divine Liturgy the day of ordination with my Bishop and then preached my first Mass the following day at St. Mary’s. Reflecting on the past week, I found it curious what most people requested (Hint: Look at the title of this post.) A large part of my public service this week has been to provide the People of God blessings. I have been asked to bless a countless number of people and articles – some weirder than others (Yes, I turned some of them down). To many Catholics, blessings make sense, but to non-Catholics (or non-sacramental churches) this liturgical action is a bit of a mystery.

Fr. John Hardon, SJ, in the Modern Catholic Dictionary, defines a blessing this way (separation of the definition by the author):

1. As found in Scripture, it means praise, the desire that good fortune go with a person or thing, dedication of a person or thing to God’s service and a gift.

2. In liturgical language a blessing is a ritual ceremony by which an authorized cleric in major orders sanctifies persons or things to divine service, or invokes divine favor on what he blesses. The Church’s ritual provides for over two hundred such blessings, some of which are reserved to bishops or members of certain religious institutes.

In colloquial terms, when someone says at work, home or with friends, “You are blessed,” they are referring to the first sense of the definition. But, what people ask for is found in the second sense of the definition. Clerics bless those objects which assist the individual in living a life of grace and drawing them closer to the Lord. This also includes setting apart people and objects to assist in the welfare of the People of God. The following are the blessings that a Deacon may administer:

Blessings Pertaining to Persons

  1. Order for the Blessing of a Family
  2. Order for the Annual Blessing of Families in Their Own Homes
  3. Order for the Blessing of a Married Couple outside Mass
  4. Order for the Blessing of Children
  5. Order for the Blessing of Sons and Daughters
  6. Order for the Blessing of an Engaged Couple
  7. Order for the Blessing of Parents before Childbirth
  8. Orders for the Blessing of a Mother before Childbirth and after Childbirth
  9. Order for the Blessing of Parents after a Miscarriage
  10. Order for the Blessing of Parents and an Adopted Child
  11. Order of Blessing on the Occasion of a Birthday
  12. Orders for the Blessing of Elderly People Confined to Their Homes
  13. Order for the Blessing of the Sick
  14. Order for the Blessing of a Person Suffering from Addiction or from Substance Abuse
  15. Order for the Blessing of a Victim of Crime or Oppression
  16. Order for the Blessing of Those Appointed as Catechists
  17. Order of Blessing for a Catechetical or Prayer Meeting
  18. Blessings of Catechumens
  19. Order for the Blessing of Students and Teachers
  20. Order for the Blessing of Ecumenical Groups
  21. Order for the Blessing of Organizations Concerned with Public Need
  22. Orders for the Blessing of Pilgrims
  23. Order for the Blessing of Travelers

Blessings Related to Buildings and to Various Forms of Human Activity

  1. Order for the Blessing of a New Building Site
  2. Order for the Blessing of a New Home
  3. Order for the Blessing of a New School or University
  4. Order for the Blessing of a New Library
  5. Order for the Blessing of a Parish Hall or Catechetical Center (by delegation from the pastor)
  6. Order for the Blessing of a New Hospital or Other Facility for the Care of the Sick
  7. Order for the Blessing of an Office, Shop, or Factory
  8. Order for the Blessing of Centers of Social Communication
  9. Order for the Blessing of a Gymnasium or a Field for Athletics
  10. Order for the Blessing of Various Means of Transportation
  11. Order for the Blessing of Boats and Fishing Gear
  12. Order for the Blessing of Technical Installations or Equipment
  13. Order for the Blessing of Tools or Other Equipment for Work Order for the Blessing of Animals
  14. Order for the Blessing of Fields and Flocks
  15. Order for the Blessing of Seeds at Planting Time
  16. Order for a Blessing on the Occasion of Thanksgiving for the Harvest
  17. Order for the Blessing of an Athletic Event
  18. Order for the Blessing Before and After Meals

Blessings of Objects that Are Designed or Erected for Use in Churches, either in the Liturgy or in Popular Devotions

  1. Order for the Blessing of a Repository for the Holy Oils
  2. Order for the Blessing of Articles for Liturgical Use (shorter rite outside Mass)
  3. Order for the Blessing of Holy Water outside Mass

Blessings of Articles Meant to Foster the Devotion of the Christian People

  1. Order for the Blessing of Religious Articles
  2. Order for the Blessing of Rosaries

Blessings Related to Feasts and Seasons

  1. Order for the Blessing of an Advent Wreath (outside Mass)
  2. Order for the Blessing of a Christmas Manger or Nativity Scene (outside Mass)
  3. Order for the Blessing of a Christmas Tree
  4. Order for the Blessing of Homes during the Christmas and Easter Seasons
  5. Order for the Blessing of Throats on the Feast of Saint Blaise
  6. Order for the Blessing and Distribution of Ashes
  7. Order for the Blessing of Saint Joseph’s Table (March 19)
  8. Order for the Blessing of Food for the First Meal of Easter
  9. Order for Visiting a Cemetery on All Souls Day, Memorial Day, or on the Anniversary of Death or Burial
  10. Order for the Blessing of Food for Thanksgiving Day
  11. Order for the Blessing of Food or Drink or Other Elements Connected with Devotion

Blessings for Various Needs and Occasions

  1. Order for the Blessing of Those Who Exercise Pastoral Service
  2. Order for the Blessing of Readers (with delegation by the pastor)
  3. Order for the Blessing of Altar Servers, Sacristans, Musicians, and Ushers (with delegation by the pastor)
  4. Order for the Commissioning of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (outside Mass, with delegation by the pastor)
  5. Order for the Blessing of Officers of Parish Societies (with delegation by the pastor)
  6. Order for a Blessing in Thanksgiving
  7. Order for a Blessing to be Used in Various Circumstances

Blessings Pertaining to Persons

Order for the Blessing of a Family

Order for the Annual Blessing of Families in Their Own Homes

Order for the Blessing of a Married Couple outside Mass

Order for the Blessing of Children

Order for the Blessing of Sons and Daughters

Order for the Blessing of an Engaged Couple

Order for the Blessing of Parents before Childbirth

Orders for the Blessing of a Mother before Childbirth and after Childbirth

Order for the Blessing of Parents after a Miscarriage

Order for the Blessing of Parents and an Adopted Child

Order of Blessing on the Occasion of a Birthday

Orders for the Blessing of Elderly People Confined to Their Homes

Order for the Blessing of the Sick

Order for the Blessing of a Person Suffering from Addiction or from Substance Abuse

Order for the Blessing of a Victim of Crime or Oppression

Order for the Blessing of Those Appointed as Catechists

Order of Blessing for a Catechetical or Prayer Meeting

Blessings of Catechumens

Order for the Blessing of Students and Teachers

Order for the Blessing of Ecumenical Groups

Order for the Blessing of Organizations Concerned with Public Need

Orders for the Blessing of Pilgrims

Order for the Blessing of Travelers

Blessings Related to Buildings and to Various Forms of Human Activity

Order for the Blessing of a New Building Site

Order for the Blessing of a New Home

Order for the Blessing of a New School or University

Order for the Blessing of a New Library

Order for the Blessing of a Parish Hall or Catechetical Center (by delegation from the pastor)

Order for the Blessing of a New Hospital or Other Facility for the Care of the Sick

Order for the Blessing of an Office, Shop, or Factory

Order for the Blessing of Centers of Social Communication

Order for the Blessing of a Gymnasium or a Field for Athletics

Order for the Blessing of Various Means of Transportation

Order for the Blessing of Boats and Fishing Gear

Order for the Blessing of Technical Installations or Equipment

Order for the Blessing of Tools or Other Equipment for Work Order for the Blessing of Animals

Order for the Blessing of Fields and Flocks

Order for the Blessing of Seeds at Planting Time

Order for a Blessing on the Occasion of Thanksgiving for the Harvest

Order for the Blessing of an Athletic Event

Order for the Blessing Before and After Meals

Blessings of Objects that Are Designed or Erected for Use in Churches, either in the Liturgy or in Popular Devotions

Order for the Blessing of a Repository for the Holy Oils

Order for the Blessing of Articles for Liturgical Use (shorter rite outside Mass)

Order for the Blessing of Holy Water outside Mass

Blessings of Articles Meant to Foster the Devotion of the Christian People

Order for the Blessing of Religious Articles

Order for the Blessing of Rosaries

Blessings Related to Feasts and Seasons

Order for the Blessing of an Advent Wreath (outside Mass)

Order for the Blessing of a Christmas Manger or Nativity Scene (outside Mass)

Order for the Blessing of a Christmas Tree

Order for the Blessing of Homes during the Christmas and Easter Seasons

Order for the Blessing of Throats on the Feast of Saint Blaise

Order for the Blessing and Distribution of Ashes

Order for the Blessing of Saint Joseph’s Table (March 19)

Order for the Blessing of Food for the First Meal of Easter

Order for Visiting a Cemetery on All Souls Day, Memorial Day, or on the Anniversary of Death or Burial

Order for the Blessing of Food for Thanksgiving Day

Order for the Blessing of Food or Drink or Other Elements Connected with Devotion

Blessings for Various Needs and Occasions

Order for the Blessing of Those Who Exercise Pastoral Service

Order for the Blessing of Readers (with delegation by the pastor)

Order for the Blessing of Altar Servers, Sacristans, Musicians, and Ushers (with delegation by the pastor)

Order for the Commissioning of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (outside Mass, with delegation by the pastor)

Order for the Blessing of Officers of Parish Societies (with delegation by the pastor)

Order for a Blessing in Thanksgiving

Order for a Blessing to be Used in Various Circumstances

On the Second Day of Christmas…

With the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Incarnation, the season of Christmastime begins. Christmas is so important that it is celebrated for eight days straight…as if every day was Christmas morning. Since the Solemnity fell on a Saturday this year, the Feast of St. Stephan is suppressed.

Regardless, it is important to remember that with the first three days of Christmastime, the Church celebrates a Trinitarian festival of love through the feasts of martyrs. Each martyr(s) is unique in the manner in which they died. Martyrs offer their lives through will, love and blood. These feasts of martyrs include:

  • 26th: St. Stephen – martyr (red) by will, love and blood
  • 27th: St. John the Divine –  martyr (white) by will and love
  • 28th: Holy Innocents – martyrs (red) by blood

We should also mention the first Sunday (today) after Christmas which is dedicated to the Holy Family. The Church provides for us the model for a family: father, mother and the child. This day also recognizes our human brokenness and that all families do not resemble the prefect family. So, she provides extra grace through her liturgical blessings and offers the Holy Family itself to make up where we lack.

Permanent Diaconate Overview

Today, after five years, was the last day of our formal Diaconate formation. Next up, our ordination retreat from January 2-7. Then, ordination on January 15. Please pray for us.

Great Explanation

Archbishop Collins of Toronto has a great minute and a half explanation of the Permanent Diaconate. Additionally, I posted the Diocese of Evansville Permanent Diaconate Vesting…in two minutes and twenty seconds. Enjoy!