Is there some place that states what the correct placement of a Deacon is in a procession in and out of Mass? I am getting conflicting answers and my pastor asked to see if we couldn’t get some better guidance on this. We understand that if carrying the Book of Gospels they are first but if not are they beside the priest celebrant and which side and if a Bishop is presiding where is the Deacon?
They should be either just before the priest celebrant, or at his right hand.
Ideally, if a bishop is celebrating, there should be two deacons, one on each side.
If not carrying the Book of Gospels he walks beside the priest
GIRM 172. Carrying the Book of the Gospels slightly elevated, the deacon precedes the priest as he approaches the altar or else walks at the priest’s side.
The easy way to find out is to look in the GIRM. There’s also a nice summary of Mass with the deacon on the USCCB web site. Here’s the salient portions:
Vested and carrying the Book of the Gospels slightly elevated, the deacon precedes the priest on the way to the altar or else walks at the priest’s side if the Book of the Gospels is already enshrined on the altar (172)
When the bishop is present then the Ceremonial of Bishops applies. There should be two or three deacons when a bishop is present. One will process in carrying the Book of Gospels and the other two will process in on either side and slightly behind the bishop (this allows him to bless with one hand while carrying the crozier with the other and not get tangled up with the deacons). The bishops attendants will follow the deacons.
If it’s a large Mass, the deacons walk first, followed by the priests, the main celebrant being last of course. However, the principle deacon walks immediately in front of the main celebrant. If not walking, the proper place for the deacon is to the celebrant’s right (the deacon is his "right hand). The deacon should not be both at the celebrant’s right and carrying the Gospels. I’m not sure what the pontifical says (See Dn Ed’s post) other than to repeat that there should be 2 or 3 main deacons.
I think the reason why there seems to be conflicting answers is because it matters whether or not the Gospel book is being carried. If he has the book, he’s always in front and not to the right. If he does not have the book, then either position is proper. Perhaps because it’s not always practical to have the 2 side-by-side, without the book, he can be in either position.
Thanks for response I have along with Father looked it up in the GIRM as stated in 172. What the confusion is is it don’t state which side of celebrant if not carrying the Book of Gospels in. Also we only have one Deacon, myself, in a somewhat small parish and I’m new at that. We have had other’s telling us that I should be at the right of the celebrant others say it depends if I am reading the Gospel or minister of the Cup. Is this a book Ceremonial of Bishops that I can purchase? Deacon R
Generally speaking, the correct position for the deacon is at the celebrant’s right. The deacon is his “right hand.”
If you’re proclaiming the Gospel, then this wouldn’t apply because you’d be at the ambo, and the celebrant would be standing at the chair. Likewise it wouldn’t apply when distributing Communion (at least, not necessarily apply). However, when standing or sitting at the chairs, the deacon should always be immediately to the right of the celebrant. Likewise when standing at the altar (to the right and a step back).
There is a book called “Ceremonial of Bishops” (aka the pontifical) published by Liturgical Press. You can get this from any Catholic book distributor as it is an official ritual book. But the purpose of that is to describe what happens when the bishop is present–it isn’t very helpful if the bishop is not there.
Re-read your post.
Even if the deacon is not carrying the book of Gospels, then the traditional (and many would say more proper) position for the deacon is preceeding the celebrant–not to the side, but the GIRM has this as an option, so either one would be licit. The GIRM doesn’t specify which side of the celebrant, but rubrics mean what they’ve always meant and the proper side is the right.
Thank you, Father David we will purchase this book and use it everyone prior has just kind of flim flammed their way through and the Pastor I have now wants to do right and so do I. We are trying to do one step at a time and get all slowly turned to the correct or preferred way from the doctrine. Deacon rh
Another good title is *Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described *by Fortescue and O’Connell. That one was written for the 1962 Missal, so some of the exact rubrics will not apply to the novus ordo, however, this is an excellent source to have because it presents an authentic and solidly-grounded understanding of Catholic liturgical practice, and unfortunately that’s exactly what one does not find in more contemporary books, which tend to be just a lot of fluff.