Holy Order & Deacons

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Augustine

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If deacons are ordained, why can’t they celebrate Mass? Is it a discipline or a custom or actually theoligically determined?

Perhaps I could extend the same question to why only bishops can ordain priests and not priests?

I’d appreciate if someone would explain the different nuances is the sacrament (sacraments?) of Holy Order.

TIA
 
Augustine, your very good question deserves an equally good response. I hope you find me up to the task.

There are three degrees of ordained ministry:

Bishops receive the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders (CCC 1594). They are the successors of the apostles and as such also have the privilege of ordain others the following two orders:

Presbyters (Priests) are called to be the bishops’ prudent co-workers (CCC 1595). Priests are called to ‘minister their flock’. They are the image of Christ. Priests are consecrated to teach the Gospel and offer the Mass.

Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service to the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood (CCC1596). Deacons are the assistants of priests and bishops. Because they are not ordained priest they cannot celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass.

I hope that this brief overview in no way confuses. I trust that other members of this forum will elaborate on the three degrees of ministry.
 
Bud, thanks for your response.

I gather then that only the bishop receives the sacrament fully. However, I have some difficulty undestanding a sacrament being given in degrees, unlike the others.

I wholly understand the disciplinary aspects of it being so. I mean, the Holy Orders sacrament is given only once, but with restrictions on what the receiver can do. Thus, the sacrament is given in its full Grace, but with disciplinary limitations that the Church sees fit.

I remember that the Apostles ordained presbiters, as the Church does now. But, my question remains, did they do so for theological or for purely for disciplinary reasons?

TIA
 
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Augustine:
Bud, thanks for your response.

I gather then that only the bishop receives the sacrament fully. However, I have some difficulty undestanding a sacrament being given in degrees, unlike the others.

I wholly understand the disciplinary aspects of it being so. I mean, the Holy Orders sacrament is given only once, but with restrictions on what the receiver can do. Thus, the sacrament is given in its full Grace, but with disciplinary limitations that the Church sees fit.

I remember that the Apostles ordained presbiters, as the Church does now. But, my question remains, did they do so for theological or for purely for disciplinary reasons?

TIA
It is not just disciplinary reasons.

Those who are ordained are ordained to more than a “rank” of clergy. Each of the major orders has a specific function. One is not “better” than another, or intrinsically “higher.” Each clergyman, be he ordained to the diaconate, presbyterate, or episcopate, is fully “ordained” - as opposed to partly ordained. But they are ordained to do what is inherent in their office - and those things differ.

Part of the process of the ordination rite is the invocation of the Holy Spirit to equip the ordinand for the office and work of a “________” (fill in the blank). The deacon has the office and work of a servant ministry - the Greek word diakonos means servant.

The presbyters and bishops are ordained to do certain things, to fulfill certain offices and requirements. The functions differ. The sacrament of Holy Orders is truly conferred in each case. The different clerics are not more or less ordained than each other. They are simply ordained to fulfill different purposes in the Church, in ministering to the whole of God’s people.

The different orders are not so much involved in limitations as to what one “can” do or “is permitted” to do - but rather in what they are positively called and needed to do. Perhaps it would work better if I said it is a matter of what they are supposed to do rather than what they are prohibited fom doing.

A person who is ordained priest doesn’t “lose” his diaconal ordination, he adds to it the ordination to the priesthood. His certificate of ordination to the diaconate isn’t taken up and destroyed. He has added to his office and functions those of a priest. Same principle applies to one ordained to the episcopate.

So - it’s more than a matter of discipline. It’s a matter of doctrine, of sacramental theology, of the theology of Holy Orders. It’s not that they arbitrarily “don’t get to” do certain things but could if they really wanted to. It’s a matter of the nature of their ordination to a specific function and office, and of what the church intends to do wit that ordination process. Remember graces are imparted by sacraments. The graces to perform the functions of a priest are not imparted by the sacrament of ordination to the diaconate. The graces to perform the functions peculiar to a bishop are not imparted with the sacrament of ordination to the priesthood.

Hope that helps clarify a bit!

Pax Christi!
 
The best way I have found to describe it is that an Ordination to a particular ministry carries with it certain charisms, or gifts of the Spirt.

The Deacon is called to service. The Deacon recieves the full Grace of Holy Orders at his ordination, but only the charisms necessary to pursue his particular ministry.

The Priest is called to a priestly ministry. He retains all the charisms of the deaconate, as the priestly call is also a call to service. He may offer the Sacrifice of the Mass and Annoint. He gains the charism of acting in the Bishop’s stead.

The Bishop, as heir to the Apostles recieves the all the charisms given to the Apostles. Forgiveness of sin (Absolution), Celebration of the Eucharist, Confirm with the seal of the Holy Spirit and authority to Ordain. Several of these (Absolution, and in some cases Confirmation) are entrusted by his authority to the priests under his authority.

So the Grace is full at a deaconal ordination, it is only in the specific gifts of the Sacrement that differ.
 
Thank y’all for your kind answers. I understand the sacrament of Holy Orders much better now.

But please allow me to ask another question that came up as I read your answers: is it then possible that bishops allow, say, deacons, to celebrate Mass, including consecrating the Eucharist? I guess than a bishop’s prerrogatives, such as what I suggest, are governed by the Pope, right?

Thanks again,
 
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Augustine:
Thank y’all for your kind answers. I understand the sacrament of Holy Orders much better now.

But please allow me to ask another question that came up as I read your answers: is it then possible that bishops allow, say, deacons, to celebrate Mass, including consecrating the Eucharist? I guess than a bishop’s prerrogatives, such as what I suggest, are governed by the Pope, right?

Thanks again,
Deacons are allowed to do a Paraliturgical Service (Communion Service). That includes the Liturgy of the Word (Scripture Readings and Homily) and distribution of Communion. There is no Consecration because under no circumstance are deacons allowed to cosecrate the Eucharist! That is only reserved for priest.

DigitalDeacon
 
DigitalDeacon,

Thanks for your answer.

I’m not trying to debate, just trying to udnerstand what options the Church has with the shortage of priests in the so-called civilized world.

Just like bishops allow priests to Consecrate the Holy Eucharist, could they decide to allow deacons to do the same?

TIA
 
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