National Directory



sense. The deacon is to cultivate an imagination that takes him to the heart of human need. In a real sense the ministry of a deacon is not limited to any particular service; instead his missionary service is agile and deliberative.The deacon is attentive to human pain in all its forms as he discerns that portion of the Gospel to be poured into the wounds of human suffering (Lk 10:34). As Pope Benedict XVI noted, “In these years new forms of poverty have emerged. . . . Beside material poverty, we also find spiritual and cultural poverty. . . . Be servants of the Truth in order to be messengers of the joy that God desires to give to every human being.” 96 As a man sent from the diocesan bishop in the name of Christ the Servant, the deacon holds within his heart a vision of charity as wide and deep as the one held in the heart of Christ. 91. In the prayer of diaconal ordination, the diocesan bishop implores God that the deacon may be “full of all the virtues, sincere in charity, solicitous towards the weak and the poor, humble in their service . . . [and] may . . . be the image of your Son who did not come to be served but to serve.” 97 Therefore, “by word and example,” the deacon places himself “at the constant service of [his] brothers and sisters.” 98 This service includes diocesan and parochial works of charity, including the Church’s concern for social justice. It also extends into Christian formation—working with youth and adults and transforming the world through personal witness in conformity with the Gospel of life and justice.The deacon must strive, therefore, to serve all of humanity “without discrimination, while devot ing particular care to the suffering and the sinful.” 99 Ultimately, the dea con’s principal diakonia —a sign of the Church’s mission—“should bring [all whom he serves] to an experience of God’s love and move [them] to conversion by opening [their] heart[s] to the work of grace.” 100

Age for Ordination

92. In accord with canon law, 101 the USCCB establishes the minimum age for ordination to the permanent diaconate at thirty-five for all candidates, married or celibate. The establishment of a maximum age for ordination

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