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Understanding the Diaconate

Understanding the Diaconate

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What is a deacon? More than fifty years since the restoration of the permanent diaconate by the Second Vatican Council, the office of deacon is still in need of greater specificity about its purpose and place within the mission and organizational structure of the Church. While the Church is more than a social reality, the Church nonetheless has a social reality. Our understanding of the diaconate therefore benefits from a theological discussion of the divine element of the Church and a sociological examination of the human element. Understanding the Diaconate adds the resources of sociology and anthropology to the theological sources of scripture, liturgy, patristic era texts, theologians, and magisterial teachings to conclude that the deacon can be understood as "social intermediary and symbol of communitas" who serves the participation of the laity in the life and mission of the Church. This research proposes the deacon as a servant of the bond of communion within the Church (facilitating the relationship between the bishop/priest and his people), and between the People of God and the individual in need. Thus authentic diaconal ministry includes a vast array of many concrete contexts of pastoral importance where one does more than simply serve at Mass. Understanding the Diaconate will undoubtedly be useful in the formation of permanent deacon candidates. But by shedding light on the unique ministry of deacons, the book also reveals how every member of the Church can be better supported and understood. Transitional deacons will come to understand the service-identity that lays the foundation for their future presbyteral character; the laity will appreciate their own vocational call in the world when they find a cleric accompanying them into the temporal sphere; the bishop will have the means to extend and enhance his care for his flock; and a world that is sick unto death will find the Church's healing arm reaching out to it in word, liturgy, and charity. In these ways, W. Shawn McKnight makes clear the uniqueness of the deacon.

Author:  W. Shawn Mcnight
Format:  Paperback
Pages:     309
Size:        6 x 8 x 1"


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