“Receive the Gospel of Christ,
whose herald you have become,
Believe what you read,
Teach what you believe,
and practice what you teach.”
In ordination rites for the deacon, priest and bishop the final ceremony is the presentation of the symbol of office. For the deacon, that symbol is the Book of Gospels. He is, by ordination, the herald, the proclaimer of the Gospel.
On Saturday, March 12 it will be my great privilege to ordain to the transitional diaconate, six seminarians for the Diocese of Dallas. Transitional deacons, unlike permanent deacons, are men who will advance to the priesthood.
Do not underestimate the importance of diaconal ordination. It is the time when these men, who have been preparing themselves for years, become members of the clergy, commit themselves to a life of celibacy and to conform their way of life to the example of Christ and promise respect and obedience to the bishop and his successors.
Those present are always impressed by the deacons prostrating themselves before the altar in supplication. Following that, the Bishop lays hands on each ordinand and prays the ordination prayer.
Deacons are ordained to the service of the Bishop, so unlike ordination to the priesthood where all priests present lay hands, only the Bishop lays hands on the deacon.
The vestments of the deacon are the stole and dalmatic. After they are ordained family members or priests or deacons assist in vesting the newly ordained.
It is then that, kneeling before the bishop, the deacon is handed the Book of Gospels with the words: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Bishop embraces the new deacons in a greeting of peace.
As deacons, the newly ordained may proclaim the Gospel and preach. He becomes an ordinary minister of the Eucharist. In the time before he is ordained to the priesthood, he will be assigned to one of our parishes to work for a year.
My prayer for our new deacons is the one the Bishop prays during the ordination.
May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to conclusion.