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The Deacon at Eucharist

by Father Michael Gilligan

I. Introduction.

At the dawn of Christianity, St. Ignatius of Antioch said that all of us should respect the deacons as we respect Jesus Christ. In the same way, we should respect the bishop as the living image of God the Father. Finally, says St. Ignatius, we should respect the presbyters as God’s council; they remind us of the apostles, gathered together. Apart from these three ministries, he says, the Church does
not exist.1

In this perspective, then, the deacon is another Christ, an alter Christus. Just as Christ is our mediator with God, ever interceding, so the deacon is our mediator between the bishop, who presides, and the whole congregation. Again and again (paki i paki), the deacon is interceding, because he sings the litanies and directs the people in their prayer. As St. Ignatius teaches, the liturgical role of the deacon is important and worthy of respect, especially in the Eucharist.

Much writing on the restored diaconate in the United States stresses the role of extra-liturgical service in the wider community.2 There are also many general studies on the history and renewal of the diaconate in the Western Church; these studies emphasize the deacon’s role outside the liturgy.3

Yet, as with every Christian, Sunday Eucharist for deacons is the highlight of the week. Sunday Eucharist is ordinarily the principal occasion where the deacon is known to the whole Church. In general, the deacon’s role in the Eucharist is important, not just for an understanding of who he is but also for the efficacy of the celebration itself. What, then, should the deacon do at Sunday Eucharist? What is his specific role?

II. General principles of the deacon’s role

To answer these questions, two documents are critical, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Constitution on the Liturgy.4

According to the General Instruction, the bishop (or in his place, the presbyter) is the presider at the Eucharist. All others in the sanctuary are ministers, including the choir, instrumentalists, and ushers. Of all these individuals who minister, the deacon holds first place.5

Father Aidan Kavanagh, O.S.B., says that this statement has a clear meaning: All lesser ministries come from the deacon’s ministry they are subordinate to it and they assist it. The deacon, therefore, should be competent in all these ministries. He should be able to carry them out at least as well as anyone else. The deacon is the very best lector, the very best cantor, the very best server.6 Father Kavanagh’s description applies to the ideal deacon or, in a sense, to the diaconate as a whole.7 In practice, not every deacon should be expected to be expert at all musical instruments or at singing every voice in the choir. It does make sense, though, to expect a deacon to have developed skills in proclaiming the Scripture, leading the singing, and coordinating the details is the liturgy.

Guiding principle

The tasks of the lector, the cantor, and the server are, indeed, all expressed in the role of the deacon, in a fuller and more perfect way. This is why the deacon should assume any of these roles as the situation requires. The Constitution on the Liturgy also provides a guiding principle for all ministers, that of division of roles:

In liturgical celebrations, each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy. 8

This principle is developed in the General Instruction:

All in the assembly gathered for the Mass have an individual right and duly to contribute their participation in ways differing according to the diversity of their order and liturgical function. Thus in carrying out this function, all, whether ministers or layperson's, should do all and only those parts that belong to them, so that the very arrangement of the celebration itself makes the Church stand out as being formed in a structure of different orders and ministries.9

So, while the deacon’s role is flexible, it is also restricted by the “nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy.” The deacon’s role is a question of both “right and duty.” There is a real obligation involved.

III. Specific requirements of the deacon’s role

The deacon’s role is summarily described in the General Instruction. 10 However, there is no clear statement of priorities. Moreover, it is not always explained how and why the deacon’s ministry is differentiated from other ministries.

What are the deacon’s most important tasks? To understand the General Instruction, some background is needed, especially in the history of the liturgy.

In the West, the deacon has long been an assistant to the presiding priest; and this emphasis remains, both in official documents and in widespread practice.

On the one hand, it is true that the deacon’s ministry is subject to the leadership of the presider; the deacon is, after all, a minister of the Eucharist, not a presider.

On the other hand, in ancient tradition, as well as in the Christian East to this day, the deacon’s primary ministry is to the gathered congregation, the assembly, not the presider.11

It is fitting, for example, for the deacon to walk in the opening procession of the Mas, carrying the Gospel Book. But if the deacon is leading the singing, he would appropriately be in the sanctuary already, helping the people participate.

Latin, Greek

In fact, one of the most important functions of the deacon is to help in congregational singing, especially in the litanies.

In the East, in the typical Sunday Eucharist in Byzantine Catholic Churches the deacon (or priest, if there is no deacon) sings five litanies: at the beginning (the “litany for peace”), for the catechumens, for the faithful, at the preparation of gifts, and at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. There are several other litanies with just a few petitions.

Several times in the course of the Eucharist, the deacon sings, “Again and again (paki i paki) in peace let us pray to the Lord.”

Pope Gelasius (492-496) introduced in Rome a litany with 18 petitions, sung by the deacon at the beginning of Mass and on other occasions, such as Lauds and Vespers.

While the petitions of the deacon were in Latin, the response, as in the East, was in Greek: Kyrie eleison. Some of the wording of the petitions (“For an angel of peace. . .”) also comes from the Byzantine East.12

In the West, there are three litanies in the Latin Rite Mass as it is today; perhaps in the future there will be more. All three litanies have their origin in the East.

More acclamatory

The first litany is the third form of the penitential rite, sung with Kyrie eleison or Lord, have mercy as the people’s response. (Such a litany, in expanded form, would also be appropriate during the entrance or the Communion procession.) If the deacon is a good singer, it is fitting for him to sing this third form of the penitential rite.13

Overall, the invocations of the litany found in the United States sacramentary are more acclamatory than penitential; they are all directed to Christ.14

A more extended form of this litany, for example, during the entrance procession, would appropriately also be acclamatory in character. As in the Apostolic Constitutions, it could also appropriately be directed to God through Christ.15

The second litany in the Mass is that sung after the Creed, the General Intercessions. This litany in the West has long been called the oratio fidelium, the prayer of the faithful, that is, the prayer of the baptized (as opposed to the catechumens). It is not the prayer of the laity, as opposed to the clergy. In this manner of speaking, bishops, priests, and deacons are “faithful,” since they are baptized.

Third litany

As indicated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the catechumens may be dismissed before the prayer of the faithful is sung.16 When the Scrutinies are celebrated, there is a “prayer of the catechumens” for them before they are dismissed; this too will normally be a litany.17 The petitions in both the prayer of the faithful and the prayer of the catechumens are to be sung by the deacon. It is the responses themselves that are the “prayer,” not the petitions. The usual wording of each petition reflects the fact that the deacon is not offering prayers: he is inviting the congregation to pray. His petitions end with “let us pray to the Lord” or something of the same nature.18

The third litany in the Mass is the Agnus Del, which may be repeated as many times as needed, to accompany the breaking of the bread. (The Order of Mass presumes that a large loaf is used, so that the breaking of bread takes some time. As a rule, people receive Communion from bread consecrated at the altar, not from the tabernacle.) 19

Cantor’s role

In many cases, the choir and/or congregation will sing the Agnus Del on their own. Because the task takes time, the deacon may be occupied with helping break the bread. As with other litanies, the Agnus Del may be sung so that the people respond to each invocation. 20

Of its nature, the Agnus Del is directed to Christ, not Christ passively present in bread and wine but Christ who is risen and glorious, interceding for us.21 The Agnus Del, then, is not a quiet litany of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. As the Kyrie usually is, the Agnus Del is a confident and hopeful acknowledgement of Christ as Lord.

In the presence of a deacon who can sing these litanies well, even a good cantor will yield that role; it belongs to the deacon. In this case, the cantor can join in the people’s responses, to support them.

Overall, this role of the deacon in helping the people’s singing is not to be under emphasized; it is, even today, the most obvious function in any Byzantine Eucharist celebrated with a deacon. While the Latin Rite Mass has fewer litanies, singing of the people is just as important as it is in the East. In many respects, singing is a primary form of participation.22

Father Kavanagh says that people will bear with a priest who preaches poorly, since, in any case, they still hear the Gospel proclaimed.

But a deacon who cannot sing, he says, is like a lector (a “reader”) who cannot read, a presbyter (an “elder”) without wisdom, a bishop (an “overseer”) who cannot see, or a presider who cannot preside.23

Father Kavanagh’s rhetoric is metaphorical and should not be taken literally. There might be good reason to ordain someone a deacon who does not sing well, just as we might ordain someone a priest who does not preach well. But that is an imperfect decision, made in an imperfect world. As with other traditions (more than one Mass on Sunday, for example), we have adapted and compromised so much down through the years that we have forgotten what is primary.

In the case of the deacon, his role of singing in the Eucharist is especially valuable. This is so, above all, in the United States, where singing at Mass is not always as good as it should be. According to long tradition, the deacon should be responsible for singing the litanies at Mass. In the absence of a competent cantor, he can announce and lead many of the songs, even the Responsorial Psalm after the First Reading.

Singing is an important part of the deacon’s ministry, not because he needs it but because the Church needs it.

Further roles

Another major role of the deacon is his coordination of all the lesser ministries. His principal concern is the participation of the whole congregation, under the direction of the presider. For example, before Mass, the deacon should make sure all needed ministers are present and accounted for. He also should confirm that the sacred vessels are prepared, with sufficient hosts, as well as the altar, which should be clear at the beginning of Mass. (Nothing is put on it until the Liturgy of the Word is concluded.) The deacon may have to instruct the servers, for example, to put the chalice on the side table before Mass, not on the altar. Finally, the deacon should check the microphone and the lighting; he should be ready to make any adaptations needed for the situation.

During the celebration, the deacon sees that everything moves in an orderly way, with dignity and decorum; he makes certain that all lesser ministries function well. He gives whatever directions are required; he is the one to announce “Let us stand” or “Let us kneel.” If it is the custom to do so for the Eucharistic Prayer, especially for Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon, the deacon may read aloud the names of the living and the dead at the proper times.


If the presider wishes to have the sign of peace offered, the deacon may give the invitation for the people to extend this gesture to one another. The deacon may also read the usual announcements before the final blessing; he may give the dismissal at the end of the celebration.

Should the deacon announce, “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith” after the Last Supper narrative? The Order of Mass assigns this invitation to the presider; it is a translation of myserium fidei, an interjection in the Roman Canon, in the middle of the words said over the chalice. Liturgical research showed that this lection was not a diaconal invitation, so the Order of Mass does not assign these words to the deacon.

However, as an introduction to the Memorial Acclamation, “Let us proclaim the mystery offaith,” is of the same nature as other directions to the congregation. For this reason, Father Kavanagh thinks it appropriate for the deacon to give this invitation.24 In some4ioceses in the United States, the bishop has permitted his deacons to do so.

Helping in the singing, coordinating lesser ministries, and giving directions to the people all indicate how the deacon primarily ministers to the congregation.

He has several other functions, which are understood in the same way. For example, the deacon is to help in the distribution of Communion, especially Communion from the chalice. Partly because of this, the deacon is to elevate the chalice at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, while the presider sings “Through him, with him, in him.”

By right and duty, the deacon also proclaims the Gospel. So. even at a Mass With one or more priests concelebrating, the deacon should still proclaim the Gospel, elevate the chalice, and help with Communion. Only in the absence of a deacon should the presider proclaim the Gospel or elevate the chalice.25

By the same token, the “principles of liturgy” require that priests and deacons distribute Communion. Neither priest nor deacon should sit down during the procession and yield to a lay person who distributes Communion. So, if a deacon is present in the congregation, it is his place to help with Communion, if help is needed. Lay people are to be used only if there is an insufficient number of deacons; lay people are “extraordinary” ministers of Communion.

As we ordain more and more deacons, there will be fewer and fewer lay people needed to distribute Communion. This is not a diminution of a properly lay function; it is a gradual restoration of the proper ministry of deacons.26

Question of need

Because the needs of the Church are diversified, it will not be uncommon that the deacon, as directed by the presider, will have to make a choice among more than one ministry. For example, during Communion, if the singing needs the support of a leader, especially to sing the verses of a Psalm or a litany, the deacon could lead the singing and permit a lay person to help with Communion. Or, if a competent cantor is available, the deacon could help with the chalice.

It is not a question of what is a “more sacred” or a “more important” function; it is a question of what the gathered congregation most needs, what is the best choice to be made, to help the people pray, as the “nature of the rite and liturgical principles” demand. The deacon’s perspective must always be directed to the needs of the assembly, not his own place in the hierarchy.

In some Masses, there will be too many functions to be carried out by one deacon. For example, one deacon will not conveniently lead all the songs and also assist the priest. This is why the General Instruction says that, if two or more deacons are present, they may divide up the functions among them. It will often be the case that two or more deacons are needed for Communion.

Especially with Communion under both kinds, even three or four deacons can have a useful role in the Mass.27

IV. Practices the deacon should avoid

The deacon has many responsibilities in the Eucharist. Nevertheless, he should avoid those gestures and action that pertain to a bishop or a priest. Furthermore, the deacon should not usurp the role of other ministers.

With regard to imitating a presider, a deacon at no time in the Eucharist extends his arms for prayer in the Orans position, as a presider does. (An exception to this rule would be those situations where all present raise their arms in this way, for example, during the Our Father, as suggested in the Italian sacramentary.)

Especially with regard to preaching, the bishop or priest has a special role. Preaching is an integral part of his ministry. While the deacon can and should preach a homily when he presides at baptisms, funerals, or weddings, the Sunday homily should normally be given by the presider.28 This responsibility is his by the nature of the rite, namely, the gathering of the community of which he is the head; this is why he speaks to the Church, as its presider.

Open to question

The deacon who preaches at Sunday Mass will do so by way of exception, because of a special gift which he has, for example, advanced theological study or excellent rhetorical skills. John Chrysostom aid Francis of Assisi, as deacons, were entitled to preach the homily on Sundays by virtue of this exception to the general rule. But a deacon should not be expected to preach the homily on Sundays as a normal part of his office. He is expected to sing and to have a serious interest in coordinating the details of celebration.

In view of this understanding of preaching, it remains open to question why deacons in the United States are required in some dioceses to undergo as long as four years of study before ordination. While such extensive training may be needed for preaching or teaching, it is not needed for singing the litanies at Mass, for supervising the order of celebration, or for helping with Communion. Yet that is what deacons are ordained to do.

Last to receive

As James Barnett points out, extensive educational requirements exclude many worthy people from the diaconate. There are many individuals who are intelligent, competent, and of good character but who lack, higher education. There are others who have demanding commitments in their work and in their family life. These however, could be good deacons.29 They would not be expected to preach; but they could serve the Church well, in many respects.

There are other ways in which the deacon should not take the place of a bishop or priest.
During the Eucharistic Prayer, the deacon does not stand so near the presider that he seems to be a con-celebrating priest.30

He does not sing “Through him, with him, in him...,” as does a priest.31 The deacon does not give the brief introduction to the Our Father; this pertains to the presider.

Nor at Communion does the deacon take a host or a portion of the host in his own hands, as does a priest. Instead, he receives Communion after the presider and from the presider who says to him,
“The Body of Christ.”
The deacon answers Amen and then receives.32 (If intinction is used, the presider says “The Body and Blood of Christ.”)33

In many cases, Communion will be given from the chalice to the people; the deacon is to be the very last to receive from the chalice, which he then purifies.34 This is required by the principle of division of roles, from the Constitution on the Liturgy, so that the deacon is clearly differentiated from the presider. Such a differentiation has been required since the year 325, by the Council of Nicea:

Let deacons remain within their proper place, knowing that they are ministers of the bishop and less than presbyters. Let them receive the Eucharist in their proper order after presbyters distributed to them by the bishop or a presbyter. Nor may a deacon sit in the midst of the presbyters. This is done contrary to canon and order. If anyone does not wish to obey these regulations, let him desist from the diaconate.35

If the deacon should not imitate the role of the priest, neither should he usurp the role of other ministers. For example, if a cantor is present who can sing the General Intercessions well, and if the deacon does not sing well, then the cantor should do the General intercessions. This choice, too, is according to the nature of the rite.

Litanies are more effectively sung than recited, so it is not good ministry for the deacon to take his part but to function less effectively than another.36 Again, it is a question of meeting the needs of the gathered congregation, before other considerations.

Similarly, a lay person should function as lector for the reading of Scripture. A deacon may carry out this function, for example, if no one is present who can read well; but a deacon normally just reads the Gospel. not the first or the second reading.

V. Conclusion

Here are some final considerations on the deacon’s role in the Eucharist.

The deacon’s private prayers at the preparation of the chalice and at other times should be said secret to himself; they should be audible to no one.

When the deacon seeks the blessing before the Gospel, only the presider should hear; the people should be singing the Gospel Acclamation. It is a mistake to wait until the acclamation is finished and then to seek the blessing.

The comments of the deacon should be brief and to the point; they should not be prolonged exhortations or brief sermons. His every action and every word should facilitate prayer and inspire the people. Like every member of the congregation, the deacon should take part in the songs with enthusiasm, listen to the readings with reverence, and follow the presider’s prayers with faith.

Like every minister, the deacon should be modest in action, gentle in spirit, clear in expression. He should obey the presider, guide the other ministers, and inspire the congregation. He should be a servant to all, marked by humility and generosity.

The deacon has an important ministry in baptisms, vigils for the deceased, funerals, weddings, and other occasions. But in the Sunday Eucharist, the deacon’s role is paramount. He should be a part of every Sunday celebration.

In general, the deacon chants the litanies, supports congregational singing, coordinates lesser ministries, gives directions to the people, proclaims the Gospel, and helps with the chalice.

The deacon should be respected and esteemed, as we respect Jesus Christ.
We need him.

( from The Priest , April, 1994, pp. 37-40, May, 1994, pp. 29-32.


1. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Trallians 2:3-3:1. For original Greek text, see Ignace d’Antioche and Polycarpe de Smyrne, Lettres: Martyre de Polycarpe, trans. Th. Camelot, O.P., 4th ed. revised, vol. 10 of Sources Chrëtiennes (Paris, 1969), pp. 94- 105, esp. p. 97. For English translation and commentary, see Robert Nowell, The Ministry of Service (New York, 1968), p. 23, and James M. Barnett, The Diaconate: a Full and Equal Order (New York, 1981), pp. 47- 51.

2. See for example, Bishops’ Committee on the Permanent Diaconate, Permanent Deacons in he United States (Washington, D.C., 1971); Russell Shaw, Permanent Deaconi: 1986 Revision (Washington, D.C., 1986); Timothy J. Shugrue, Service Ministry of the Deacon (Washington, D.C., 1988).

3. For general introductions to the history of the diaconate and its recent restoration, see Barnett, The Diaconaie; Le diacre dans l'eglise et le monde d’aujourd’hui, ed. Paul Winneger and Yves Congar, OP. (Paris, 1966); Jean Colson, la founction diaconale aux origines de I’ église (Bruges. 1960); Der Diakon: Wiedeientdeckung und Erneuerung seines Dienstes. ed. Josef G. Ploger and Hermann. J. Weher, 2nd. ed. (Freiburg, 1980); Edward P. Echlin, S.J., The Deacon in thc Church: Past and future (New York, 1971); Joseph Hornet. Reierrons-nous le diacre de l' eglise primitive?, trans. Nicole Durieux. vol. 57 of Rencontres (Paris, 1960); A. Kervoorde, O.S.B.. Où en est le probleme du diaconat, vol. 51 of Paroisse et Liturgie: collection de pastorale liturgique (Bruges, 1961; Michael Kwatera. O.S.B., The Liturgical Ministry of Deacons (Collegeville. Minnesota, 1985); J. Robert Wright, “The Emergence of the Diaconate,” Liturgy. 11(1982). no.4, pp. 17-23, 67-68. The entire issue is dedicated to the diaconate. See also TheDeacon's Ministry. ed. Christine Hall (Herefordshire, Britain, 1992); even this recent collection does not adequately consider the deacon’s sung role in the Eucharist.

4. For these texts, see The Liturgy Documents, 3rd. ed., ed. Elizabeth Hoffman et al. (Chicago. 1991). pp. 9-35, 45-104.

5. General Instruction, 59; Liturgy Documents, p. 63 (hereafter GI and LI)).

6. Aidan Kavanagh, O.S.B., Elements of Rite (New York, 1982), pp. 75-77.

7. In other words, the diaconate as a whole, as one body, represents the best lectors, the best cantors, the best servers. In the same way, while the first task of priests is to preach the Word of God, not every individual priest will be an excellent preacher. It is the whole body of presbyters that has preaching as its primary task.

8. GI, 28; LD, p.15.

9. GI, 58; LD, p. 62.

10. GI, 61, 78-138; LD, pp. 63, 65-70.

11. See Heinzgerd Brakmann, “Zum Dienst des Diakons in der Liturgisehen Versammlung, “Der Diakon, pp. 147-163. Cf. Gabe Huck, Liturgy with Style and Grace, 2nd ed. (Chicago, 1984), pp. 48-49 and Lawrence J. Johnson, The Mystery of Faith: The Minister.c of Music (Washington, D.C., 1983), pp. 33-34. In fact, the reason why the deacon has long been considered as primarily an assistant to the priest is that the deacon’s role became fixed at a time when the congregation had little part in the celebration. See Joseph Gelineau, S.J., Voice and instruments in Christian Worship, trans. Clifford Howell, S.J. (Collegeville, Minnesota, 1964), p. 75.

12. For the text of this Deprecatio Gelasii, see Joseph A. Jungmann, S.J., The Mass of the Roman Rite, trans. Francis A. Brunner, 1950, 1955), 1, 336-338; Missarum Sollemnia, 5th ed., 2 vols. (Vienna, 1962), 1,433- 436. See also Paul De Clerck, La “priére universe/Ie” dans les litergies latines anciennec. vol.62 of Liturgiewissenschaftliche Quellen end Forschungen (Munster Westfalen, 1977), pp. 166-187. As De Clerck shows, there were other litanies in use in the West before the Deprecatio Gelasii, especially in Milan and in Ireland; these were translations of Byzantine litanies.

13. Even if the Confiteor is used, followed by the Kvrie, invocations may be added before each Kyrie, making it a litany like the litany in the third penitential rite. Each Kyrie can also he sung more than twice, allowing for the ninefold repetition or even a longer form. See GI, 30; LD, p. 55.

14. The Sacramentary, trans. International Committee on English in the Liturgy (Collegeville, Minnesota. 1985), pp. 407-410.

15. All the litanies in the Eucharist in the Apostolic Constitutions are directed to God through Christ. This document, from fourth century Syria, testifies to the ancient pattern of Christian prayer, regularly directed not to Christ but to God through Christ. See, for example, the twenty-two petitions of the litany of the faithful: Les constitution apostoliques, trans. Marcel Metzger, vols. 320, 329, 336 of Sources Chrétiennes, 3 vols. (Paris, 1985, 1986, 1987), III, 166-173.

16 . Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, trans. International Commission on English in the Liturgy (Collegeville, Minnesota, 1988), 67, pp. 33-34.

17. Ibid., no. 65, pp. 31-32.

18. GI 47; LD, p.58.

19. GI 56h; LD, p. 61.

20. GI 56e; LD, p. 61.

21. See Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman
11, 335; Missarum, Sollemnia, II, 416.

22. GI 19; LD, p. 52.

23. Kavanagh, Elements of Rite, pp.31-32.

24. Ibid., p. 76. Since the Memonal Acclamation will normally be sung. according to its nature, so too should the invitation, “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.” At the very least, it can be sung recto tono.

25. See Dennis C. Smolarski, S.J., How not to Say Mass (New York, 1986), pp. 51-52.

26. Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter, XXIV (1988), p. 8.

27. G1 71; LD, p. 64-65.

28. G1 42; LD, p. 57.

29. Bamett, The Diaconate, pp. 178-179. As Barnett puts it, the aim of the Church in the restoration of the diaconate is to make deacons, not “mini-priests” or “mini-pastors.” But that is prcisly what is happening with the requirement of three or four years of pastoral and theological study.

30. Gl 134; LD. p. 72.

31. GI, 178, 182; LD, p.77 GI, 186, 191; LD, p.78.

32. Gl, 137; LD, p. 22. In the Middle Ages, however, it was assumed that a deacon would self-communicate at a Solenn High Mass; this is still the custom among the Greeks and Armenians. See Jungmann, Mass of the Roman Rite, II, 387; Missarum Sollemnia, II, 480.

33. G1, 206; LD, p. 80.

34. GI, 137; LD, p. 22.

35. This is Canon 18 of the First Ecumenical Council, adapted from the text quoted in Echlin, The Deacon in the Church, p. 57.

36. Recited litanies are an imperfect prayer. To be more effective, in the “nature of the rite,” a litany should be sung and sung well. See Felice Rainoldi, “The Litany: The Liturgical History,” Pastoral Music, 12:6 (August-September, 1988), pp. 39-43. The entire issue of this magazine is dedicated to the litany in the liturgy.

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