Thursday, October 04, 2012

Deaconed: a grammatical exercise.

Is "Deacon" really a verb, or should one always resort to the proper grammar of "making someone a Deacon"?

You can't go wrong with proper grammar unless you are communicating with those who do not understand proper grammar in the first place. However, I'd like to make a case that being Deaconed is at least a very spiritual proper grammar.

The root of the word Deacon is "kinesis" from which we get the word "kinetic". The word is based fundamentally on the idea of movement, being in motion, doing. Think back to the Early Church with Bishops being virtually inseparable from their Deacons. The Bishop, the spiritual father of the community bids something happen and the Deacon puts it into practice. The Deacon throws himself into motion to ensure that the work of the Church happens well and in good order at the direction of the Bishop and then to the Bishop's deputies who are now what we know as our priests. For the Church, the Diaconate represents the sense of purpose of the Church being put into action. As ikons of Christ the servant, Deacons demonstrate by their ordination the sanctity of God's work in the world.

The modern Church has practically lost its Diaconate by delegating its work to all and sundry. While many church workers are well trained and dedicated to their tasks, their lack of ordination belies the lack of sacramental sanctity, the Real Presence of God in the world. It's true that Readers, Pastoral Assistants, Evangelists and Communian Assistants et c do some marvellous work, and have their services of inauguration and installation, but these are not services of Sacrament. There is no indelible mark of Holy Order etched into their souls.

For many lay folk, this is a good thing. They may be able to do a Deacon's work, but they are called by God to live as Christians in the lay field. They perform their works of service to the greater glory of God. However, the ordination of a Deacon is about the Church and the Sacramental life of the Church. Deacons and Priests are given the title "Reverend" but this does not refer to the person but rather back to Christ who is represented in the Deacon and the Priest in the manner of an ikon. A church that loses its sense of sacrament quickly loses its sense of the Reality of Christ present within its community.

So, from a spiritual point of view, "to be Deaconed" makes much sense when one is given a Divine Mandate to become a verb for Christ. Thus "to Deacon" at Mass is also part of the grammar of the spirit when the Divine activity participates with human activity in bringing God and Man into a Mystical union. We shouldn't then be too quick to insist on good Grammar

On a personal note, I am very grateful to all those who have wished me well following my ordination last Saturday. I may have been on a long journey to get where I am now, but I rather feel myself to be at the beginning of a longer journey who knows where. However, now I have folk with whom to share much of this journey and I am grateful for their kindness.

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