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Cleric in the World By Fr. Thomas A. Baima, S.T.D. In this second essay, I want to explore the other dimension of the deacon’s identity. Said simply, he is a cleric who is living in the world after the manner of the laity. I will argue that this is neither accidental nor pragmatic, but rather an expression of his identity which flows from his configuration to Christ the servant. The basis of my argument will be the same as in the first essay, that we cannot discover the ministry of the deacon apart from his identity. Just as the Roman Ritual is clear that the deacon receives the laying on of hands “not unto the priesthood but only for a ministry of service” so also his life in the world is not identical with that of the laity. 1 The identity of the laity is distinct and provides a second boundary on the identity of the deacon. While he is baptized, his ordination by the laying on of hands, though he continues to live in the world, his identity is now ecclesial and not secular. This is a second reason that we should not and cannot define diaconal identity functionally or practically. We have all fought against the inaccurate term “lay deacon.” Happily, this term has mostly passed from the scene. But, I argue, it originates in the same mistake of trying to define the identity of an ordained minister functionally. A man is a deacon by virtue of his configuration to Christ, not where he lives and works. It is in sacramental configuration that we find his identity, and it is only from that identity that we can truly define his ministry. So, this essay will have two parts. The first will be theological and seek to delineate secularity as the distinctive quality of the baptized. The second part will look at the deacon as an ecclesial man living in the world, and how this distinguishes his life from that of the laity. The conclusion of both talks will locate “doing in being,” and “service in identity.” It will, in the end, seek to say how the deacon is a sacrament and not just a man who has receive all seven of the sacraments. Part One: The Secular Character of the Baptized The first part, as I said will be theological and seek to delineate secularity as the distinctive quality of the baptized. In this, I am following insights from the great Catholic theologian of the last century, Yves Cardinal Congar, and his groundbreaking book Lay People in the Church. 2 I want to acknowledge my debt on this subject to my doctoral student, Raymond Cleveland, whose work Secularity is the True and Distinctive Mark of the Layperson shaped my thinking on this part of the presentation. 3 Cleveland grounds his thesis on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the laity and the substantial body of magisterial teaching which prepared the way for this historic decree. 4 In framing his thesis, Cleveland gives us a clear definition which will provide us with the foundation for this second talk. I want to quote him at length so that we have this foundation upon which we can build our understanding. The Second Vatican Council taught that the laity share Baptism in common with all members of the People of God, and in Confirmation they complete their sacramental initiation into the ecclesial body. However, it made clear that they are called to live out their baptismal and confirmed calling first and foremost in the temporal order. Secularity, the Council taught, is what distinguishes the laity among all members of the people of God. 5 This idea developed before the Council, but never before was it expressed so succinctly and explicitly as in Lumen Gentium, 31. Moreover, the Magisterium during the post-conciliar period consistently reaffirmed secularity as a chief characteristic of the laity, as seen in the discourses and writings of Paul VI, John Paul II,

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Profile for Chicago Studies

Chicago Studies Fall/Winter 2018/2019  

57:2

Chicago Studies Fall/Winter 2018/2019  

57:2