Copyright © 2017-2020 Deacon Community of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. All rights reserved.
The Deacon Community Of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe
Ego Vobiscum sum, sicut qui ministrat
The Origins of the Diaconate
    In the very early days of the Church, there was an order of clergy: the bishop. The bishop led the assembly in the celebration of the Eucharist. But as you read in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 6:1-6), there came a time when the ministry of charity on the part of the Apostles was delegated to seven (7) men, who became the first deacons. One of the first deacons, St Stephen, became the first Christian martyr. Eventually, it became physically impossible for the bishop to preside at every Eucharistic celebration, so the bishops delegated presbyters (priests) to preside in their stead, sharing in the bishop’s munus as High Priest.      It was also at this time that the initiation of Christians was separated into two sacraments, Baptism and Confirmation, because while the priest or deacon could administer the Sacrament of Baptism, the bishop reserved the anointing of Confirmation to himself as a sign of unity. Later, in the stational liturgies of Rome, unity with the bishop was considered so important that deacons would bring portions of the Body of Christ, consecrated by the bishop, to the outlying churches to be dripped into the chalices of the various Eucharistic liturgies, a practice that remains today where the priest drops a portion of the host into the chalice at mass.
    Deacons  became very important in the early Church because of their relationship with the bishop. As one ancient description says, they were “the eyes and ears of the bishop” in the community, informing the bishop of who was in need and the special concerns of the people. The ancient form of basiclica churches reflected this relationship with the bishop’s chair in the apse, flanked by his deacons and surrounded by semi-circular tiers of benches for the presbyters.       The role of the deacon was of such importance that the See of Rome was in the early days administered by the Seven Deacons of Rome, who were deputized by the Bishop of Rome to handle the everyday affairs of the diocese. The ministries of the bishop and the deacon was very closely intertwined. The story of the martydom of St Sixtus, an early Pope and martyr, tells of St Lawrence and the other six Deacons of Rome following and crying as Sixtus was led away to his death, saying, “Father, where are you going without your deacons?”      Among the early deacons were also prominent theologians, such as St Athansaius, who came to the Council of Nicaea as a deacon, and was elected bishop. It was not uncommon for deacons to be elected bishop, in fact, St Callistus II was elected Pope when he was a deacon. Numerous other stories exist of such episcopal elections of deacons, many of whom became saints. Another notable example is St Thomas Becket, the Archdeacon of Canterbury, who was named Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of England by his friend and future nemesis, King Henry II. St Patrick was the son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest. One of the greatest theologians of the Eastern Church was St. Ephrim, a deacon.      The ministry of the deacon is typically described as a three-fold ministry: he is a servant of Charity, of the Word and of the Altar.     
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The Deacon Community Of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe
The Origins of the Diaconate
 In the very early days of the Church, there was an order of clergy: the bishop. The bishop led the assembly in the celebration of the Eucharist. But as you read in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 6:1-6), there came a time when the ministry of charity on the part of the Apostles was delegated to seven (7) men, who became the first deacons. One of the first deacons, St Stephen, became the first Christian martyr. Eventually, it became physically impossible for the bishop to preside at every Eucharistic celebration, so the bishops delegated presbyters (priests) to preside in their stead, sharing in the bishop’s munus  as High Priest.      It was also at this time that the initiation of Christians was separated into two sacraments, Baptism and Confirmation, because while the priest or deacon could administer the Sacrament of Baptism, the bishop reserved the anointing of Confirmation to himself as a sign of unity. Later, in the stational liturgies of Rome, unity with the bishop was considered so important that deacons would bring portions of the Body of Christ, consecrated by the bishop, to the outlying churches to be dripped into the chalices of the various Eucharistic liturgies, a practice that remains today where the priest drops a portion of the host into the chalice at mass. Deacons  became very important in the early Church because of their relationship with the bishop. As one ancient description says, they were “the eyes and ears of the bishop” in the community, informing the bishop of who was in need and the special concerns of the people. The ancient form of basiclica churches reflected this relationship with the bishop’s chair in the apse, flanked by his deacons and surrounded by semi- circular tiers of benches for the presbyters.       The role of the deacon was of such importance that the See of Rome was in the early days administered by the Seven Deacons of Rome, who were deputized by the Bishop of Rome to handle the everyday affairs of the diocese. The ministries of the bishop and the deacon was very closely intertwined. The story of the martydom of St Sixtus, an early Pope and martyr, tells of St Lawrence and the other six Deacons of Rome following and crying as Sixtus was led away to his death, saying, “Father, where are you going without your deacons?”      Among the early deacons were also prominent theologians, such as St Athansaius, who came to the Council of Nicaea as a deacon, and was elected bishop. It was not uncommon for deacons to be elected bishop, in fact, St Callistus II was elected Pope when he was a deacon. Numerous other stories exist of such episcopal elections of deacons, many of whom became saints. Another notable example is St Thomas Becket, the Archdeacon of Canterbury, who was named Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of England by his friend and future nemesis, King Henry II. St Patrick was the son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest. One of the greatest theologians of the Eastern Church was St. Ephrim, a deacon.      The ministry of the deacon is typically described as a three- fold ministry: he is a servant of Charity, of the Word and of the Altar.
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