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The Deacon's Bench

“Last year when Pope Benedict XVI met with the permanent deacons of the Diocese of Rome, he recalled an incident that occurred at the Second Vatican Council. Each day when the council was in session, the Gospel was enthroned to demonstrate that the council’s proceedings were subject to the authority of God’s Word. One day, Pope Paul VI told those in charge of the opening ceremony that at least one time he would like to be the person who enthroned the Gospel. The liturgists told him no, this is the job of a deacon, not the pope. Pope Paul responded, ‘But I am also a deacon, I continue being a deacon, and I would like to exercise the ministry of the diaconate placing the Word of God on its throne.’

By telling this story, Pope Benedict was affirming the value of the diaconal ministry. The diaconate had flourished in the Church for 400 years before it declined and became merely a transitional step on the way to priestly ordination. Vatican II restored the diaconate to its original purpose. The Holy Father was not only reminding the permanent deacons of Rome that they have a ministry that is shared with priests and bishops (and with the pope). He was also reminding them that their ministries of sacrament, word and service stand alone and are especially needed in the world today.”

— Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, writing here. 
  Read it all. It’s quite good. 
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