Deacon directives derive from dated duties

Art and Liturgy - Christ the King Parish Omaha Nebraska

“Let us offer each other the Sign of Peace.”

“Bow down for the blessing.”

“Go, the Mass has ended.” 

If your parish has a permanent deacon, you may have asked why he is given a few, short lines to say at seemingly arbitrary points in the Mass. I wondered about this myself, never quite putting together that the deacon’s lines are all commands.

In the earliest days of the diaconate, one of the deacon’s duties was to be the “guardian of order” during Mass. The Catholic Encyclopedia says:

[Deacons] saw that the faithful occupied their proper places, that none gossiped or slept. They were to welcome the poor and aged and to take care that they were not at a disadvantage as to their position in church. They were to stand at the men’s gate as janitors to see that during the Liturgy none came in or went out, and as St. Chrysostom says in general terms: “if anyone misbehave let the deacon be summoned” (Hom. xxiv, in Act. Apost.). …Most especially were they conspicuous by their marshaling and directing the congregation during the service. Even to the present day, as will be remembered, such announcements as [Go, the Mass is ended], [Let us bend the knee], [Go in Peace], are always made by the deacon; though this function was more pronounced in the early ages.

This is a really small factoid, but a new revelation for me.

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One comment

  1. In the Byzantine Divine Liturgy they also call out for us to be attentive “Wisdom! Let us be attentive.” before the Epistle and before the Consecration call to “The doors, the doors” to ensure no one not in full membership of the Church is present.

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