On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI met with some 400 permanent deacons from around Rome, telling them that they have a unique, family-oriented ministry to evangelize with the truth of the Gospel and a spirit of charity toward the poor.
The meeting came on the 25th anniversary of the reinstatement of the ecclesial ministry of permanent deacons in the diocese of Rome.
The Holy Father told them that above all, "Union with Christ, cultivated through prayer, sacramental life and especially Eucharistic adoration is of the utmost importance to your ministry, in order that it truly bear witness to the love of God."
Benedict thanked the deacons for their parish service in Rome, especially noting their pastoral concern for Baptisms and the family. Likewise, he highlighted how they must be "servants of the Truth.”
“By announcing the Gospel,” he said, “you will offer a Word capable of illuminating and giving meaning to the work of mankind and to the suffering of the sick, and you will help the new generations discover the beauty of Christian faith.”
“In this way,” he continued, “you will be deacons of the Truth that makes people free, and you will lead the inhabitants of this city to encounter Jesus Christ. For men and women, welcoming the Redeemer into their lives is a source of profound joy, a joy that can bring peace even in moments of trial."
Stressing the idea that evangelization must be accompanied by a witness of charity, Pope Benedict called to mind the large number of poor people, "many of them from countries far from Italy," who come to Roman parishes in search of help.
He told the permanent deacons: "Welcome these brothers and sisters with great cordiality and openness, and seek, as far as possible, to help them in their need."
The Holy Father told the group that "My gratitude goes out to those of you committed to this silent and daily witness of charity. Through your service, the poor also become aware of being part of the great family of the children of God, which is the Church."
Calling the vocation of deacons "a special grace for your family life,” Benedict said that “in this way, [they are] called to be ever more open to welcoming the will of the Lord and the needs of the Church.”
Concluding, he asked that the Lord would “reward the readiness with which your wives and children accompany you in your service to the entire ecclesial community."