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Liturgy: Deacon's Position at Consecration

And More on Second Collections

ROME, SEPT. 21, 2005 (Zenit) - Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

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Q: What is the proper position for the deacon during the consecration? In my parish the deacon stands approximately 1 foot to the priest's right. Then at the "Amen" the deacon elevates the chalice as the priest elevates the paten. At another parish in my diocese, however, the deacon knelt on the altar step, beside the altar servers, during the consecration. I can't remember if he stepped up to elevate the chalice or not. It seems that the former position is more prevalent. Which is the correct or the preferred position? -- J.J., Howell, Michigan

A: The position of the deacon during the Eucharistic prayer is dealt with in Nos. 179-180 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). To wit:

"179. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the deacon stands near the priest but slightly behind him, so that when needed he may assist the priest with the chalice or the Missal.

"From the epiclesis until the priest shows the chalice, the deacon normally remains kneeling. If several deacons are present, one of them may place incense in the thurible for the consecration and incense the host and the chalice as they are shown to the people.

"180. At the final doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer, the deacon stands next to the priest, holding the chalice elevated while the priest elevates the paten with the host, until the people have responded with the acclamation, Amen."

No. 215 adds a further note on the position of the deacon during a concelebrated Mass:

"After the prayer over the offerings has been said by the principal celebrant, the concelebrants approach the altar and stand around it, but in such a way that they do not obstruct the execution of the rites and that the sacred action may be seen clearly by the faithful. They should not be in the deacon's way whenever he needs to go to the altar to perform his ministry.

"The deacon exercises his ministry at the altar whenever he needs to assist with the chalice and the Missal. However, insofar as possible, he stands back slightly, behind the concelebrating priests standing around the principal celebrant."

I think the documents are sufficiently clear regarding the position of the deacon as to absolve me from inflicting further commentary on those poor readers who have stuck with me through the two years and some 140,000 words that have passed since the beginning of this column.

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Follow-up: Timing of Second Collections

Pursuant to our comments on the appropriate moment for second collections (see Sept. 6) several readers wrote to recommend holding it right after the first collection.

To cite just one communication: "At our church, the second collection is usually announced the Sunday before. The ushers take the first collection, then go right up again and take the second collection. The money received is put into two separate baskets and they are brought, one on top of the other, up with the gifts to be offered to God."

Other readers ascertained that variations of this method are fairly well received and certainly it does seem to be a liturgically more appropriate moment than after the Communion prayer.

As a priest from Christchurch, New Zealand, wrote: "I think it is very inappropriate and unliturgical to take up a second collection after Communion because offertory is over and done already. We do not make an offering after Communion."

I am in broad agreement with our correspondent but I do think that there could be exceptions such as when the collection responds to an appeal (such as those to support the missions or another worthy cause) delivered by a non-cleric after the Communion prayer.

Even in these cases it is often possible to postpone the collection to the following week but sometimes it is not feasible.


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Liturgy, Deacon, Consecration, Collections, McNamara

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