Re: [liturgy-l] Using a layman as liturgical deacon
- If all you think that comes in the Eucharist is bread and wine, I suppose a layman can do that quite well.
If you believe it to be the Body and Blood of Christ, that requires a priest.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
From: Walt Knowles <wrknowles@...>
Date: Sat, 22 Aug 2009 19:23:24
Subject: Re: [liturgy-l] Using a layman as liturgical deacon
Daniel Lawson inquired:
> What happens in the ordination of a deacon, or, to put it differently,<snip>
> what can a deacon do that a layperson cannot? I certainly see
> differences in focus and degree between diaconal ministry and lay
> ministry, but I am struggling hard to understand a bright line between
> So I'm genuinely struggling with understanding what qualitative changeI'd like to suggest that at the root of Daniel's quandry are a couple of
> (as opposed to change in focus or dedication) happens in the
> ordination of a deacon.
The first of these is "what can a _deacon_ do?" As with the other two
(or five, or six, or seven or 77 or 777) orders of ministry the question
must be nuanced with "when, where, and in what tradition?" Deacons may
have been proclaiming the gospel at the Eucharist in Rome in the third
century, but lay persons (cantors) were still the normative readers of
the gospel in North Africa well into the fifth century. Same thing holds
for intercessions, administering communion or any other liturgical
activity. And within the Anglican tradition, the _presiding priest_
reads the gospel in the 1662 (and 1928 UK), and arguably the 1928 US BCP
reserves this to a priest. It is also clear that one sees deacons
reading the gospel and leading intercessions east and west from the
fourth century on. So if your golden age and place is 1595 in London,
the answer is "wait until he is ordained priest," and if it's
5th-century Rome it is "just about everything but ordinations and
presidency at the eucharist."
The second is "what can a deacon (or any other order) _do_?" One of the
biggest pieces of theological nonsense that comes out of the late middle
ages in the west is the perfidious idea that ordination empowers people
to do something that they could not do before. There is _nothing_,
including presidency at the eucharist and ordination, that lay persons
within the context of (little-o) orthodox and (little-c) catholic belief
and practice have not done, and done to the edification and building up
of the church. Ordination is the structuring of limitations on freedom
so that the ordinand can effectively perform a needed ministry in the
church and so that the church is not free to turn its back on that
ministry. As a priest, I am bound (for example) to the doctrine and
discipline, worship and formularies of a particular part of the church
catholic. I may like certain ideas or practices that are not my own, but
I am not free to arbitrarily adopt them (or in an incredibly common fit
of clerical hubris, force them down the throats of a congregation). With
that limitation, the church (or at least my communion) is stuck with
having to say "yup, it may be uncomfortable, but that's what we ordained
him to do," and to pray for and support me (in appropriate ways) as I
carry out the ministry I've been commissioned to do.
So I think the real question is not "what can a deacon do," but rather
"in their sacramentalization of a part of the ministry of the entire
people of God, what is it that we don't want them to do?" I would note
in example that Augustine didn't let his deacons do _anything_
liturgically (except possibly handle the cup), because he seemed to want
it to be very clear that their work was in the world, as leaders who
exampled the work of the church in that environment.
Trying to find something for someone to do in church is play-acting (in
the negative sense).
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Hi all,
In the Reformed churches of The Netherlands, only candidate-ministers are
ordained, by one (or more) ordained minister(s). When having accepted a call
to another congregation, they are 'confirmed' (in their call to that
congegration by God, through the people).
The elders (presbyters) and deacons are not ordained but confirmed (see
above) as office bearers and hence, with the minister(s), as members of the
'consistory' (church council). Our Reformed churches also specify that
assisting at the Lord's Supper and taking up the collection _is_ intrinsic
to the office of deacon. The elders have a ruling and pastoral task, the
deacons a (practical) helping task, both in liturgy and pastorate. Nowadays,
deacons are allowed to vote as to decisions of church council so that in
practice they also rule. In spite of Reformed polity, the office of deacon
is still regarded by some people as inferior to the office as elder,
Practically, all of the above is the same in U.S. Reformed denominations.
One difference, what we in The Netherlands call 'confirmation', the U.S.
Reformed denominations call 'installation'.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Frank Senn" <fcsenn@...>
Sent: Monday, August 24, 2009 3:14 PM
Subject: Re: [liturgy-l] Using a layman as liturgical deacon
> The Eastern Churches may be very clear about the office of deacon. The
> Western Churches are not. Most deacons, in Churches that have preserved
> the office, are candidates on their way to the priesthood. They are not
> "permanent deacons." In many Reformed Churches, deacons are elected
> officers of the congregation and do not (necessarily) have liturgical
> functions. In Lutheran Churches in Europe deacons are ministers with
> full-time social service responsibilities. There are also orders of
> consecrated deaconesses who perform various ministries. These deacons and
> deaconesses can be given liturgical roles, but such roles are not
> intrinsic to their church office. These are the facts on the ground, as
> it were. These facts need to be remembered as we discuss what deacons
> "ought" to be doing liturgically.
> I think the most we can say is that there are certain liturgical tasks
> that were historically performed by the deacon, although not necessarily
> so. Example: Justin Martyr says that the deacons took the consecrated
> elements to the absent after the service. He doesn't say that deacons
> read "the memoirs of the apostles", but he does mention "readers." Were
> the deacons always literate? There's an interesting thought. We know
> that the scholae cantorum that developed in late antiquity were actually
> schools that taught boys to read so that they could sing the texts of
> psalms and canticles. Not surprisingly, they also served as readers. It
> takes some imagination to understand historical data, but not necessarily
> a romantic imagination.
> Frank C. Senn
> From: asteresplanetai <asteresplanetai@...>
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: Monday, August 24, 2009 1:50:50 AM
> Subject: Re: [liturgy-l] Using a layman as liturgical deacon
>> Posted by: "Daniel Lawson" k95dl01@gmail. com dmcl76
>>>> If liturgy expresses ecclesiology, what are we saying when someone
>>>> assumes a liturgical order to which they are not called? <
>>> Or ordained. Imagine letting lay people perform the role of the
>>> priest. Everyone would be outraged.
>> What happens in the ordination of a deacon, or, to put it differently,
>> what can a deacon do that a layperson cannot?
> anyone "can" do what a deacon does; they're just not "ordained" to do
> it. I would probably be a better liturgist than some of the priests
> i've met, and i dare say even a better pastor than a few. But i am not
> a priest, and they are. I can't serve at the altar; they can.
> even apart from the conferring/possessi on of the relevant "faculties"
> and "powers" (as you latins sometimes call them), or of "graces" (more
> typical of our nomenclature) , there's a certain order in the
> community, and ordination is an assignment to a certain place and
> function within that order. It isn't something you "decide" you're
> going to do, but something that the community and its hierarchy
> "confer" upon you. You might imagine that you would be the best deacon
> or priest or bishop in the world-- and you might be-- and you might
> even fancy that you have a direct call from God Almighty to be such--
> but if you are not called by the church, you have no such vocation;
> it's a delusion.
> No doubt many employees could do their managers' jobs as good or
> better than the managers--- but they are not the managers.
> And If a layperson is appointed to function as a deacon, and
> recognized as a deacon, then he *is* the community's "deacon", no?--
> so why not ordain him as such? Would it be because "we don't believe
> that anyone has any power to appoint anyone to any office in the
> church, or that any grace is conferred in any ordination, and people
> are free to do whatever they want"? Or is it a case of "we don't
> really want to make a commitment to this person such that we would
> really think of him as a deacon but we just need somebody to do the
> job"? (and if the latter, then we go back to my first question, no?)
> it seems that the orders of the church are part promotion to
> leadership, part recognition of leadership, part development of
> leadership, and part empowerment of leadership (leadership in several
> different levels and dimensions). But if you promote and recognize and
> even *institutionally* empower, why not *sacramentally* empower? Or
> does one believe that the church really *is* nothing more than an
> institution or corporation, and apart from the corporate advancement,
> there is no real empowerment, no real sacrament, as such?
> Posted by: "Mar Cyriac" mar.cyriac@yahoo. com mar.cyriac
>> I have to agree with you to a point, within Church history there
>> were many cases where Lay persons took up the role of presbyter to
>> minister the Eucharist to the Faithful.
>> +Alban Ba MaEd DD, Resurrected Apostolic Catholic Church
> um, could you kindly provide some of these cases where laypersons
> "took up the role of presbyter" without being ordained to the
> presbyterate? I mean, let's say within the first 1500 years. After
> that, all bets are off, in some places anyway.
> john burnett
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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