Monday, October 31, 2011

Permanent Deacons Taking Role Away From Priests

From Fr. John Zuhlsdorf at What Does the Prayer Really Say?
From a reader:
I’ve noticed recently that permanent deacons seem to be taking over the roles of priests during Mass with anything and everything they are permitted to do, even what should normally be done by priests when one is available (ie, giving the homily, Holy Thursday foot washing, reading the parts of Jesus on Good Friday, giving the blessing at the end of Mass, etc).
This has me concerned because it’s beginning to appear as though the deacon is the main celebrant at Mass, and the priest is “just there to do the consecration.”
Furthermore, because every permanent deacon I’ve ever known is married, I find myself (epically failing at) defending the celibate priesthood to people who think deacons are the equivalent to priests. I’ve actually been told quite recently by a family member the parish deacon “is better than the priest because he is married, has children, and keeps the congregation entertained during the homily with his guitar.” (YouTube example of one of his songs during the homily from his prior parish.)
This makes me fear that priests are going to get further pushed off to the side during Mass, while the deacon takes over until the consecration. Seeing how many people don’t know why they come to Mass, I worry Mass is going to further disintegrate into something worse, and priests are going to be even less respected.
What role are permanent deacons supposed to have within the Church, and how do we get the priest back as the main celebrant?
The roles of deacons during Mass are in many respects described in the GIRM for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  They in every way described in the older, Extraordinary Form.

I think I will let well-informed readers chime in on this, including any permanent deacons out there who care to comment and clarify.

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