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A deacon is a man ordained in the Sacrament of Holy Orders to assist priests in preaching, in celebrating the sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony, in the administration of parishes, and similar work.
In this he is the counterpart of the Jewish rabbi or the Protestant minister. Like the deacon, they do not sacrifice but instead welcome children into the community of faith, perform marriages, and in other ways administer their communities of faith.
Acts 6:2 “The twelve [apostles]
summoned the body of the disciples and said, ’It is not right that we
should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren,
pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of
wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer
...” The qualifications were strict: 1
Tim 3:8 “Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued,
not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of
the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then if
they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons.”
A deacon holds the lowest degree of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, below the bishop and the priest.
Jesus ordained the apostles as bishops at the Last Supper when He said, Lk 22:19 “Do this in remembrance of me.” All Catholic bishops are successors of the apostles. Jesus told His apostles, and by extension their successors, Mt 10:40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent me.” That authority has crossed the centuries in a continuing line of apostolic succession. Every Catholic deacon was ordained by a bishop who was ordained by a bishop who was ordained by a bishop … who was personally ordained by Jesus Himself.
Jesus said, Jn 8:28 “I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.” So, too, the deacon does nothing on his own authority but acts in union with the pope, with his bishop, and with his pastor, who are also in union with the pope.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1897-1904, 2238, 2242
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