Deacon on strike??

Deacon on strike?? December 6, 2012

From the mailbag of Fr. Z:

From a deacon:

Dear Father Z,
my parish priest is leftist and modernist (like the vast majority of priests and bishops here in ___) and always changes the words of the Missal, adding his personal opinions. His homilies are more about ___ than the Gospel. My question is: as a permanent deacon, would I sin if I went on strike and quit acting as a deacon at Mass?

I strongly advise against any cleric going on “strike.” You are ordained for the Church – it’s not a job. You are a deacon, you should always act as a deacon, whether at Mass or elsewhere.

That said, let’s make distinctions about what “acting as a deacon” means.

As a deacon, you need not function as the deacon of the Mass at every Mass you’re at. It is acceptable for you to sit in choir.  Even sitting in choir, you can assist with the distribution of Holy Communion if there are not enough priests present to do so.

If you have serious and well-founded questions about the validity of the Mass being offered, you should certainly abstain from serving at it.  Then you should take other steps in keeping with the last part of Redemptionis Sacramentum.

You can read more here. Some of the comments are, um, enlightening.

Details noted above are sketchy, but there’s no indication that the liberties the priest is taking are making the Mass invalid. If the deacon has those concerns, he needs to raise them with the proper authorities. Stomping your feet and threatening a walkout really accomplishes little, and does nothing to advance the cause of good liturgy.  (Nor does it foster respect for a vocation that is often sorely in need of it.)

Beyond that, what deacon would not want to be inches away from the greatest ongoing miracle in human history?  To my way of thinking, there is no privilege greater than serving at the altar—and no privilege more humbling.  The graces it brings are inestimable. To treat this extraordinary gift as something dispensable, a mere commodity—as if you are offering an invaluable service that you will hold  for ransom until you get your way—is more than misguided;  it teeters perilously close to the sin of pride. The deacon is an uncompensated servant, not a member of a guild or special caste.  Like I said: being there beside the priest, proclaiming the gospel, elevating the chalice, leading the penitential rite, offering the dismissal—it’s incomparable.  It’s all grace.  We are eyewitnesses to God’s extravagant love and supreme sacrifice.

Even under imperfect circumstances, who would want to be anywhere else?

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