Updated: July 22, 2021 08:38 AM GMT
Deacons are ordained at Hanoi Cathedral on May 31. (Photo: tonggiaophanhanoi.org)
Fifteen seminarians were ordained transitional deacons by Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien at Vietnam's Hanoi Cathedral on May 31. The ordination opens a new path for the new deacons, who are resolutely determined to follow Jesus, the Divine Master, in order to take care of the flock entrusted by him.
The moment of being given holy orders is both a sacred moment to taste the grace of consecrated life and a moment for the ordinands to realize their missions with a multitude of challenges and difficulties on the new journey.
Lumen gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, states: "For strengthened by sacramental grace, in communion with the bishop and his group of priests they serve in the diaconate of the liturgy, of the word, and of charity to the people of God.” Thus, deacons become mirrors reflecting the image of Christ serving the Church and the whole people of God.
Through ordination, deacons are in communion with and share the mission of bishops, priests and, above all, Jesus the Good Shepherd. Therefore, receiving the diaconate ministry is a noble gift that not everyone is given. Deacons are only ranked third, following bishops and priests in the clergy. This is a priceless gift that, through the Church, God communicates to the recipients. They participate in Christ's service to bring salvation to all people. Deacons Stephanus (the first martyr), Philip or Laurence showed such shining examples and became signs of Christ, who "comes not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Deacons have to live a life that could not go beyond the orbit of Jesus, whose prayer always covered his whole life. He never gave up praying. He prayed in the early morning, in secluded places and in quiet spaces. He gained strength, listened to and did the will of God the Father. Jesus held his Father in filial affection to reveal all his feelings. (John 17:1-26)
Similarly, it is impossible for deacons to neglect prayer in their mission in any circumstances. Without prayer, deacons will lose their way, not hear God's voice but instead only the voice of the world. Without prayer, they will lose his source of vitality and become wilted, feeble and fruitless. Therefore, prayer must be the number one priority in their life.
Through teaching, deacons must make sure that the Word of God bears fruit in other people
Being ordained deacons likewise means taking on the “yoke” of Jesus. The soft and gentle "yoke" is because of His tenderness and humility, from which new deacons are able to implement His mission effectively in evangelization work, worship and service to God’s flock. Shouldering the Lord’s "yoke," that is, they must take responsibility for bearing Jesus’ mission of salvation.
Bishops and priests, who have heavier responsibilities, wear stoles around the neck and shoulders and have them flow down the front, while deacons wear them only on the neck and on the left shoulder. Even so, they are all called to shoulder Jesus’ great mission that is to bring people to God's salvation.
Through teaching, deacons must make sure that the Word of God bears fruit in other people, must have "strategies" for the soil of souls, and could not afford to be quite indifferent to challenges of souls. By conducting public worship, they will guide and lead the faithful to encounter the Lord, not only through holding liturgical services but also helping improve their faith life in their own contexts, especially teaching them to know the salvific value of Masses.
Through their services, deacons need to be interested in and to care for souls in order to help them realize the great love of God, who never tires of loving, forgiving and healing his sheep. He does not want a single sheep to get lost or stray from the flock. Therefore, by acts of charity, deacons should live out the spirit of the Gospel so as to promote unity, assemble and spread love in their environment.
It can be said that receiving the diaconate ministry is a perfect gift, but at the same time it also means taking on the duty of undertaking a great mission. It is certainly true that recipients know full well about their own inadequacies, limitations and weaknesses. Consequently, our newly ordained deacons are in burning need of God's grace and fervent prayer and generous support from all people. In this way, they can be firm, ready to give up all things and courageously devote themselves to the mission entrusted to them by the Lord and the Church.
This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published on tonggiaophanhanoi.org here.