Since, recently, the current occupant of the Roman See has, in the discharge of his chosen ministry of disinformation and the dissemination of historical fantasy, made some remarks about the Diaconate, I am reprinting, from 2016, a series of posts on the Diaconate. I venture to add here my view that this is now gaining in relevance, because, in the Catholic Church, the Modernists will probably attempt to promote the Female Diaconate as a way of getting a foot-in-the-door with regard to the ordination of women to sacerdotal ministries.
Some of us know all about this at first hand, because their Anglican chums used precisely this tactic in the Anglican Communion. It has the immense advantage, from the Devil's point of view, of gradually making the People of God familiar with the sight of women playing at being clerics.
I have not cleaned away the threads. Here goes.
In 1990, Mr John N. Collins published his DIAKONIA Re-interpreting the Ancient Sources (OUP). You can probably fiddle around with Google and discover that its conclusions, more than two decades later, have not been disturbed. If you have queries about details in what I am about to write, a reading of Collins will probably answer them; I am not going to summarise him at any greater length than one paragraph.
Collins began by identifying a particular understanding of diakonia which became fashionable in Protestant circles in the middle of the twentieth century; and then infected the Latin Church too. It saw diakonia as meaning self-giving service to the poor and needy. Based on a misreading of Acts 6, it appealed to Christians at a time when ecclesial structures were losing power and prestige. "OK", it cheerfully claimed, "if you've lost your power and status you can still surreptitiously claw it back by asserting the moral high ground of humble service". Collins demonstrated, from examination of profane and sacred Greek usage, that the word diakonia, and its cognates, have a quite different root sense: that of one person's commissioned service to another person.
So the essence of the concept is not the following of Christ who came to 'serve rather than to be served'. The Deacon's basic purpose is not to be washing the feet of the lowest of the low (just as the nature of the Church is not, as we have so frequently been told, to be the Servant Church). Such things may be worthy in themselves ... may, indeed, be the charism of particular holy people. But they are not what diakonia is fundamentally all about.
What is it about? In its essence it is about serving, being commissioned to serve, the Bishop, the Eucharistic celebrant; about serving him in the administration of the Lord's Body and Blood; serving him in the proclamation of the Holy Gospel. Not a philanthropic service but a cultic, liturgical service. In as far as their duties may extend in the direction of philanthropy, it is instructive to observe the role they have in Pseudo-Hippolytus: the deacons are to attend the Bishop and report to him who are sick so that he, if it seem good to him, may visit them. Their ministry is to the Bishop, the Eucharistic celebrant, not to the needy. This role survives almost verbatim in the classical Anglican Ordinal: the deacons are "to search for the sick, poor, and impotent ... to intimate their estates, names ... unto the Curate".
There are five more posts in this series. If you feverishly write in with "But Father, you've forgotten X", you are almost certainly raising a matter which I am about to deal with!