I asked Fr. Vester last week what I should do to better prepare myself for the diaconate ordination which is exactly one month from now. He told me in reply, rather casually, “You’ve been doing it already.”
He reminded me that I was already serving as a member of the Knights of the Altar (KOA) in our chapel (the last time I checked, it’s already more than a decade-old parish!) before I entered the seminary.
As a KOA member then, I recall the enormous pride of donning the cassock and being able to assist in the Mass.
That word reminds me of our KOA motto “Called to Serve,” put in Latin, it’s neatly summarized in just one word “Serviam.”
One month to go from, I’ll be ordained as a deacon. The word has a long standing tradition in the Church which goes as far back as the earliest Christian community. For example, St. Luke’s account in the Acts of the Apostles reveals that they serve at the table (Acts 6:2), they preach (Acts 7:2–53), and they administer baptism (Acts 8:38).
One of my favorite Catholic authors and a theologian, Scott Hahn, has this to say about the “Deacon” in the Catholic Bible Dictionary of which he is the General Editor.
[A Deacon is] An ordained assistant to priests responsible for such ministerial duties as preaching, baptizing, witnessing marriages, distributing Communion, and presiding at funerals (but not saying the funeral Mass). In the modern Church there are two forms of the diaconate: the permanent diaconate (including single and married men) and the transitional diaconate (for those who will eventually be ordained as priests)
The traditional understanding is that the diaconate was established in Jerusalem through the ordination of seven men (Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas) for the task of serving the poor and distributing alms (Acts 6:1–6). Deacons were also known as clerical ministers who assisted the bishops (Phil 1:1). Paul establishes high standards for the dedication and service of deacons (1 Tim 3:8).
One of our teachers is known for preaching that diaconate does not end when one is ordained to the priesthood. For to be ordained a deacon is to live a life of service for a lifetime.
Please pray for me that I may be true and faithful to the challenges this life entails … #forever.