The Luminous mysteries are the mysteries of the Permanent Diaconate. It would seem that since their introduction by St. Pope John Paul II in October of 2002, each and every bead prayed during for the Luminous mysteries has inspired the vocation of a new Permanent Deacon. Diaconate vocations have risen significantly since 2002 and I have every reason to believe that it is because of the Luminous mysteries. Allow me to elaborate using the mysteries themselves as my bulwark:
The Baptism of our Lord
One of the greatest privileges Deacons have is the grace to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism. Here, the Deacon has the same grace as a priest through Holy Orders in that he is able to welcome people of all ages into Christ’s universal family. As the celebrant of this Sacrament, the Deacon takes on the persona of St. John the Baptist and builds the body of Christ using the living stones of the children of God as his bricks and the sacred chrism and holy water as his mortar.
The Miracle at the Wedding at Cana
The other sacrament that the Deacon has been called to celebrate is that of Marriage. He takes his place as servant to the true celebrants, the bride and groom, who are representative of Christ and His Church. The Deacon, then, witnesses the unity of minds, bodies and souls into one unified declaration of love. As the witness in this celebration, the Deacon takes on the role of Mary at the Wedding at Cana who works tirelessly so that others may enjoy their time of festivities. He mimics her orders to invite Jesus into their marriage so that the couple may “do whatever He (Jesus) tells” them (John 2:5).
As an aside, the Deacon also is a true witness to the conversion of water into wine through the sacrament of the Eucharist, which we will get into later in this article.
The Preaching of the Kingdom
Another aspect of Diaconate ministry is that of preaching. As the herald of the Gospel, the Deacon is the one who carries the Gospel lectionary during the procession and exit, reads the Gospel during the acclamation, and speaks to the people (when given permission) through his homily. More than words, the Deacon also preaches through his constant acts of servitude. His practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy identify him as a leader in his community for the simple reason that he has forgotten about himself. In essence, it is the holy Spirit that speaks through him in both word and deed.
The Deacon is the great connector, the one who brings people from the foot of the mountain to the zenith of God’s glory. At any given moment, he, too, is transformed from his secular status to clergy status when the need arises. While at home, he is the leader of his domestic Church. While at work, he is the secular destined to provide for the common good of society. But when he is in the Church, he is changed into the servant of Christ crucified as a religious. Regardless of the ministries he takes on throughout the parish, his primary goal is to guide others toward the narrow road that leads to their own transfiguration so that they too can say, “it is not I who live, but Christ within me” (Gal 2:22).
The Institution of the Eucharist
The Deacon is closest to Jesus when he takes his place within the sanctuary during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Just as Jesus did during the Last Supper, he washes the feet of those on the fringes of society and pours out his love in service to all. In doing so, he is given a special grace by remaining near the altar, where he, like the apostles, witness Jesus change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ himself. He shares with his community a certain closeness to the profound reality of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection during the moments in which the priest celebrates the liturgy of the Eucharist. Here, the Deacon is truly home. Here, he is sustained by Christ within him. From this source, he is able to declare at the end of Mass, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!”
For more information on the Permanent Diaconate, please visit the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States.