Hey, a shoutout from the Holy Father today!
I’ll just note this: Francis says, “The deacon is not for the altar, but for service…When a deacon likes to go to the altar too often, he is mistaken. This is not his path.”
Well, okay — to a point.
It would be more accurate to say, “The deacon is not only for the altar…”
Service at the altar is one of the distinct callings of diaconal ministry. The altar, in fact, is central to the life of the deacon and his ministry — which, as the Vatican has stated, “cannot be reduced to simple social service.”
From the catechism:
Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.
The 1998 directory on basic norms of formation notes:
The ministry of the deacon is characterized by the exercise of the three munera proper to the ordained ministry, according to the specific perspective of diakonia.
In reference to the munus docendi the deacon is called to proclaim the Scriptures and instruct and exhort the people. This finds expression in the presentation of the Book of the Gospels, foreseen in the rite of ordination itself.
The munus sanctificandi of the deacon is expressed in prayer, in the solemn administration of baptism, in the custody and distribution of the Eucharist, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in presiding at the rites of funeral and burial and in the administration of sacramentals. This brings out how the diaconal ministry has its point of departure and arrival in the Eucharist, and cannot be reduced to simple social service. [emphasis added]
Finally, the munus regendi is exercised in dedication to works of charity and assistance and in the direction of communities or sectors of church life, especially as regards charitable activities. This is the ministry most characteristic of the deacon.