A look at deacons in the Orthodox tradition

This popped up in my Facebook feed and I thought it worth sharing here. It offers another view of the diaconate, from another tradition:

The Deacon is the third and lowest degree of the major orders of clergy in the Orthodox Church, following the bishop and the presbyter. The word deacon (in Greek διάκονος) means server and originally it referred to a person who waited on tables.

In the Orthodox Church, the diaconate is not just a step to priesthood, many deacons have no intention of ever becoming priests. The diaconate itself is a permanent office, as a position for full or part time service to the work of the Church.

Originally deacons of the Church assisted the bishops in good deeds and works of charity. But at some time in recent centuries the diaconate became an almost exclusive liturgical function where the deacons only assist at the celebration of the Church services, helping in other areas like any other knowledgeable member of the laity…

…All higher clergy, priests and bishops, must first be ordained and serve as deacons. Because Christ came not to be served, but to serve, so, too, all those who receive the grace of the Holy Spirit to Holy Orders must, likewise, pass through their service as deacons.

A deacon’s ordination takes place after the consecration of the Holy Gifts during a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, by virtue of the fact that he does not participate in the consecration himself. After being led around the altar thrice, he kneels on one knee at the altar to await the laying on of hands. His first liturgical act is the final Litany of Thanksgiving before the dismissal of this Liturgy…

…The deacon ministers to the priest and bishop in the divine services. This includes:

  • Preaching the Gospel of Christ (with the blessing of the presiding priest or bishop)
  • Assisting in the celebration of the all of the Holy Mysteries of the Church
  • Leading the people in the collective prayers (with the blessing of the presiding priest or bishop)
  • Reading from the Scriptures during the divine services (with the blessing of the presiding priest or bishop)
  • Keeping the decorum of the public worship, including calling people to attention at appropriate times
  • Any tasks of the subdeacon or reader
  • Administrating the charitable and/or educational work of the Diocese, Deanery/Vicariate or Parish
  • Other tasks related to Church life, with the blessing and direction of his priest or bishop.

Deacons wear a cassock; this is done as a sign of his suppression of his own will and desires, and his canonical obedience to God, his bishop and the liturgical and canonical norms of the Church. Deacons are also permitted to wear the exoraso (or riassa). In jurisdictions that utilize clergy shirts, deacons generally wear a clergy shirt with collar.

There’s more, including information about vestments.  Check it out. 


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