What is a deacon?
An ordained servant
We kind of know that there are two classes of deacons. Transitional deacons, men who are preparing to be ordained priest and permanent deacons, men who are ordained deacon for life. Both are ordained, both are clerics in the church. All deacons do not become priests, but all priests are deacons.
But what is a deacon? He is not simply what he does, but who he is. Just like a catholic is not a role, he or she is a catholic person every day. So what is a deacon? In a nutshell, a deacon is an ordained servant. He is an assistant to the bishop. He is responsible for the proclamation of the Gospel, the preparation of the altar and the gifts of the people. It might help to realize that he is not assisting the priest, an assistant priest, a partial priest nor a grown up altar server.
The bishop ordains deacons to assist the bishop as he serves the needs of the people of God. The bishop cannot be everywhere at one time and so, just like in the bible when the people complained because widows were being neglected, the apostles laid hands on a few good men with good reputations and appointed them to take care of the people. Remember all priests are deacons so priests continue to assist in this manner even after being ordained priest.
In the Mass, we witness the deacon carry in the Book of the Gospels so we will know that he has been charged with proclaiming God’s marvelous deeds as recorded in the gospels. He is an ordained servant of the Word of God.
We also witness him take the gifts of the people to the altar and prepare them for the sacrifice of the Lord. He calls for the peace of Christ to be shared and finally for us to go in the peace of Christ till we, the church, meet again. Seemingly small steps and few words, but a whole lot of punch! He is an ordained servant of the people and of the Lord.
The ordained part means the church, through the Office of the Bishop, has called down the Holy Spirit upon him and asked God to entrust to him the People of God.
Let the deacon say, “AMEN!”