By: Protodeaon David Kennedy
(St. Elias Parish, Brampton. Adding the zeon to the chalice. Photo: A. Komar)
- The Ruthenian Archieratikon which is used by Ukrainian Catholics makes no mention of a Master of Ceremonies. Yet, at pontifical liturgies, it is imperative that someone functions in this role in order that good order is established and maintained. It is prudent at any concelebrated service that someone fulfills this function.
- One of the clearly apparent liturgical functions of the deacon in the Constantinopolitan liturgical tradition is that of Master of Ceremonies. The deacon prompts not only the celebrant with commands such as Master, give the blessing; Master, sacrifice it; Master, pierce it; Master, bless the holy commingling; etc., but also prompts the lector/reader, and the assembly as a whole with commands such as Let us be attentive; Widsom; etc. The evidence of the liturgical texts establishes this function as belonging to the deacon.
- The overall goal of divine services is the glorification of God and the sanctification of human persons in the Body of Christ in an orderly and edifying manner.
- The divine services should be distinguished by beauty, grace, good decorum, and order in all actions and by all persons. A harmonious and dignified communion should be apparent to all.
- In order to best achieve these goals and given that the diaconal liturgical function innately presents the deacon as the Master of Ceremonies in services, the protodeacon or first deacon should function as such. The protodeacon may also be assisted in this role by other deacons or subdeacons. Each one is to know what his responsibilities are beforehand and have the capability of carrying it out and be trained thoroughly.
- The M.C. must have a thorough command not only of his own liturgical functions but that of all the other participants; clergy and laity.
- The M.C. must know the structure of the service and be able to anticipate what is to come next.
- The M.C. is to ensure an observance of liturgical laws that is in accord with the true spirit of such laws and with those legitimate customs which have an authentic pastoral value.
- The M.C. is to carry out not only his duties as protodeacon but also his responsibilities as M.C. with reverence, patience, and careful attention, never loosing sight of the overall goals.
- The M.C. must be able to instruct the bishop, presbyters, deacons, subdeacons, cantors, readers, palamar, etc. in their own liturgical functions.
- The M.C. is to attend to liturgical decorum, protocol and etiquette.
- All participants should carefully follow the instructions of the M.C. during liturgical services. If a problem occurs with the M.C.’s actions, instructions or attitude, the hierarch should address it after the service. (At non-hierarchical services, it is the senior priest who should address the protodeacon following the service.)
- The M.C. is to guide the hierarch and the concelebrating presbyters, and serving deacons and subdeacons in their liturgical functions.
(The completion of the proskomedia at a Pontifical Divine Liturgy just before the Transfer of the Gifts. On the right Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow; on the left Protodeacon Vladimir Nazarkin. Photo: patriarchia.ru)
- The M.C. must meet with the hierarch beforehand to review the service.
- The M.C. must meet with the deacons and subdeacons and be certain that each one knows what he is to do, and how he is to do it.
- Before the service, the M.C. must meet with the pastor and review what is to take place and how. It is necessary to take into account the actual floor plan of the particular church and determine any changes to processions etc.,if necessary.
- The M.C. is to determine with the pastor the legitimate customs of the particular parish which have an authentic pastoral value.
- There should never be so many clergy in the sanctuary that liturgical actions such as censings and overall decorum are impeded.
- If all the priests and deacons present cannot concelebrate due to a small sanctuary, then these supernumerary clergy are to take their places in the nave of the church in choir dress. Choir dress is inner rason, outer rason, skouphia or kamilavka or klobuk and for priests, the cross of their rank. The epitrachelion is not worn as part of choir dress.
- In very large concelebrations where many clergy take part, other deacons beside the protodeacon should assist in the arrangement of the processions and where each person or group is to stand. All of this should be planned beforehand, so that proper order may be maintained.