Lessons for Deacons

edited December 1969 in Hymns Discussion
I am preparing to start a curriculum for the deacons of our church and I would appreciate ideas and topics that some of you might like to share in order for this service to be successful. As far as topics go, we have the Christ-likeness in the service, Serving in love, Caring for the parish, the rites of the church, hymns, and sacraments. Any other ideas or topics are welcome!


  • [quote author=Amoussa01 link=topic=10589.msg128939#msg128939 date=1296424643]
    I am preparing to start a curriculum for the deacons of our church and I would appreciate ideas and topics that some of you might like to share in order for this service to be successful. As far as topics go, we have the Christ-likeness in the service, Serving in love, Caring for the parish, the rites of the church, hymns, and sacraments. Any other ideas or topics are welcome!

    you want my advice, leave hymns out of.....or atleast the oral teaching of hymns. maybe the rites and info about hymns but not hymns themselves. if you don't, than sooner or later it'll just become another alhan class.
  • ilovesaintmark will have many things to say regarding this :)
  • Well, originally, it was an advanced hymns class. I just felt that there is a lot more to the service than just knowing hymns, and some of the comments on this forum inspired me to discuss other things. When I say "hymns," I am referring to the spirituality of the praises, not just  the tunes. However, both are important to know. I also just want to add that I would appreciate topics that can be the main point for a lesson. For example: taking care of your tonia would not be a good suggestion.
  • Practical service, humility, putting others first, doing menial jobs, becoming an example of humble service.

    The actual altar service could be done by anyone, even a highly trained chimp. (I've been a deacon for many years so I can say that, a highly trained chimp would have left fewer carpet burns than I did!).

    But the real inner nature of a servant, that is what is truly required, and that is what is hardest to learn.

    Father Peter
  • [quote author=Amoussa01 link=topic=10589.msg128949#msg128949 date=1296425392]
    When I say "hymns," I am referring to the spirituality of the praises, not just  the tunes. However, both are important to know.

    yes....but there are already enough alhan classes in church. actually, i personally believe that a deacon who "wants" to learn hymns and trully loves them would learn from an alhan class or all the current resources online. dude.....EVERY HYMN that someone may want to learn is here on tasbeha.org. you can have people stay home all the time and learn hymns from online and know them better than those in a class.
  • Amoussa,

    If you want to give the best lesson ever, then scroll through ilovesaintmark's posts and print off his responses... just make sure to cite him properly. He's picky about the footnotes.

    [quote author=GODlovesme link=topic=10589.msg128942#msg128942 date=1296424894]
    ilovesaintmark will have many things to say regarding this :)

    I don't think he'll repeat himself for the 500th time.. but then again, he might.
  • you can teach them to come to the services on time or better yet early.  ;) (that includes matins :))
  • Lesson #1:  Teach how to make the Sign of the Cross (not the stomach thing or the swatting the fly technique) but actually saying the Prayer of the Signing of the Cross.

    Lesson #2
    The way I see it, the Deacons are the Marines.
    The laity are the Foot soldiers
    The priests are lieutenants and captains
    The bishops are generals
    The Pope is the Commander-in-Chief.

    Lesson #3:

    After you complete this list, then you can consider yourself has having gone through the introduction phase, and even I would respect you.

    1.  Take those tonias in the closet, that the deacons throw on the floor, wash them, fix them with sewing, iron them and hang them.
    [Repeat every week].
    2.  Clean that censer, every week, and revere it for the amazing symbolism that is in it.
    3.  Clean the cruets of the water and wine so that there are no impurities as they are presented for the sacrifice.
    4.  Vacuum the altar and realize that is the House of God and it should be clean.
    5.  Shampoo the carpets of the Church
    6.  Wash the crystal on the chandeliers.
    7.  Organize all the books at the lectern
    8.  Place all of the Bible books in an organized and level place, because it is the Word of God.
    9.  Peel, and clean the wax from all of the rugs and veils.
    10.  Take the stupid plastic cover off the altar and devote yourself to clean linens for the altar every 2-4 weeks.
    11.  Teach the kids and the adults not to touch the altar or make it a bookcase for their 1000 books during the Liturgy.
    12.  Polish the candlesticks every 2-4 weeks.
    13.  Take the priest's vestments to the cleaners and repair them.
    14.  Rotate the priest's vestments every week so that his appearance is always with dignity before God and God's People.
    15.  Teach the kids how to put their vestments on and how to take them off and fold them.
    16.  When you teach the kids about serving in the Sanctuary rather than saying:  "serving inside"
    17.  When you say to the kids we are going to "vest", and not "let's get dressed".
    18.  When you know the name and rank of all those around you.
    19.  Organize the veils and vessels of the altar so that the vessels do not tarnish from non-use.
    20.  Paint the walls that have been destroyed by smudges and wear.
    21.  Clean the bathrooms of the church
    22.  Take out the garbage
    23.  Do the gardening, organize the gardening, so that the church will be a good sight for those that go by
    24.  Shovel the snow and ice (or sand where applicable) so that people's entry to the church may be safe.
    25.  Spend the night in the church with inclement weather in order to protect the church and be available for services so that the Liturgy is never cancelled.
    26.  Be ready to receive the bishop when he arrives.  Line up the servants, etc.
    27.  Learn to be in contact with the bishop
    28.  Learn to show respect to the bishop
    29. Wash the towels of the altar in a separate receptacle.  I recently went into a church and the towels presented for drying the vessels and for the bishop smelled like someone's arm pit.

    In terms of Prayer:

    1.  Have you taught the kids to pray as they work in the church.
    2.  Have you learned how to pray as you do the above tasks?
    3.  Have you taught the prayers of the Agbeya to the kids?
    4.  Have you sponsored essays to have the kids reflect on the aspects of the Agbeya and prayer?
    5.  Have you correlated the service with the life of prayer?

    Dealing with the Kids:

    1.  Do you visit them?
    2.  Do you ask about them?
    3.  Do you set-up get togethers for them?
    4.  Do you celebrate their birthdays?
    5.  Do you learn about their baptism date?
    6.  When a person is being ordained, do you keep track of the name, date, rank, and ordaining bishop?
    7.  Do you tease them with cute words, so that they may feel your brotherhood?

    In Dealing with the priest:

    1.  Do you discuss the service on a weekly basis?
    2.  Do you discuss the liturgical service beforehand, or do you enter the altar every two seconds to disrupt things and to look cool?
    3.  Do you discuss goals and overall approaches for the diaconal service?
    4.  Do you ask the priest advice for how to deal with situations before they arise?
    5.  Do you ask to shadow the priest and learn by being a valet?
     a)  driving for him (at least 10,000 miles per year)
     b)  making sure he is a cup of tea/or coffee every once in a while
     c) make sure that he is fed.
     d) get his mail for him
     e) take care of any organizational and annoying paperwork
     f)  type his letters
     g)  keep your discussions private and not for babble to the friends and community
     h)  go with him to the missionary churches that are just opening to witness different levels of service
     i)  taking his car for a wash (or even washing it)
     j)  going with him to visit the sick in the hospital
     k) giving him the time (by driving for him) that he may have just one more person to visit.
     l)  eating what he eats and not being picky
     m) speak when spoken to and offer opinion only when asked.

    Dealing with the people:

    1.  Become a member of the Ladies' Committee, to be a physical help to their activities (e.g., moving tables, supplies, etc.)
    2.  A model and example
    3.  Print the newsletter
    4.  Help put together the newsletter
    5.  Help with fundraising activities
    6.  Let the priest know of the needs of the people


    I won't comment on this aspect, but it must be developed as your own foundry of faith.  It must be strong and able to support you in the time of need.

    Lesson #4:

    Dealing with a priest and bishop is no different than dealing with your own father.  It has to be done with deep respect and love.  They are truly not the ordinary person to be speaking to about matters.  They are open to ideas.

    Lesson #5:
    Coptic "deacons" so that they do not learn the same:  selfishness, negligence, ill-discipline, microphone hogging, and total mayhem in the Liturgy.  
    How many times does someone have to walk in and out of the altar?  
    How many times do you have to talk and ask the priest?  
    How many times do you have to talk to the dingbat next to you to ask how cool the next response should be?  
    How many times do you have to turn to look at the women so you can scope out the girl you have a crush?  
    How many times can a person look at his mobile phone, blackberry, or iPad?

    Is it possible that someone can teach these young men to dress properly when coming to see the King of Kings?
    Is it possible that someone can teach the concept of showering before coming to church?
    How about washing your hands before you start touching the minor vessels of the altar?

    Can someone explain to me why there is plastic covering on the altars?  I will save everyone the answers, because the deacons are too lazy to keep the altar clean.  They like to touch the altar with their hands.  They love to throw 5-10 books on the altar because they can't follow without them.

    How about leaning on the altar?  Are these guys really that old that they need to use the altar table and columns as a crutch.

    How about all those charcoal pot holes in the carpeting?  Some people think it is cute to give a seven year old the censer to hold.  Guess what:  they drop it?  I'm not really worried about the candles.  I'm worried about the fire in the charcoal.

    How about the ones that go into the altar and practice their responses as you are trying to say your prerparatory prayers?  How about the ones that roll around on the ground?  

    Here's a really annoying one:  when some slick older deacon lets his 3 or 4 year old son, who is ordained as an epsaltos, to hold the triangle and to rattle with it during the chants and in the silent times.  IT IS SO CUTE.  Maybe the kid will turn out just as slick as his father.

    How about when the 5 year old deacon rushes through the royal doors at the priest who is standing at the altar facing the east and imploring God?  If I didn't realize the kid was 5 years old, I would swear it was a terrorist trying to take down Abouna.

    Lesson #6:

    The purpose of the censer is to offer sacrifice.  

    It has many symbolisms:

    1.  The bottom bowl--symbolic of the earth and the womb of the Virgin Mary.

    2.  The burning charcoal--symbolic of the Divine Ember (Christ) Who was in her womb and did not burn it.

    3.  The incense--the prayers of the saints, and a symbolic instrument of purification

    4.  The dome--the sky above us; that the prayers ascend even beyond the skies

    5.  The three outer chains--The Holy Trinity--we are bound to the Triune God--the chains are continuous from earth, the sky (the universe as we know it), and to the handle dome which is Heaven.

    6.  12 bells--the Apostles and their mission throughout the world.  The ringing of the bells reminds us of their message--the Gospel.
                      (most censers do not have them--although they should)

    7.  The Cross at the top of the dome--the Star of Bethlehem that points to the place where the Lord lay.  Also the Symbol of Victory that all of creation looks to.

    8.  The central chain--as it ties with the Heaven (dome) and the Cross on top of the dome--as the unification between Creation and God; Salvation has been achieved; it is a symbolic fulfillment of the Pentecost Hymn (Asomen) where the verse says "He made the two into one; the Heavens and the Earth."

    The reason for the charcoal to burn completely and the incense is that all sacrifices must be consumed completely.   This is in regard to the command from the Old Testament that nothing should be left behind.  All Sacrifices must be consumed in the same day.

    On a practical basis, devoid of any spiritual symbolism, it is purely hazardous to put something burning in a pile of combustibles that have the potential for a fire to consume the church.

    I often point to the censer as a symbol of the health of a parish.  I have yet to enter a church and see a clean censer.  It defines the lack of dedication of the deacons.  It identifies their detraction from the symbolism that is outlined by the Church.  It shows laziness, negligence, lack of respect, and a deleterious spirit.  It shows lack of service.  If we look at the outlines and precepts of the Old Testament there were points for cleaning the vessels of the altar until they sparkled.  There were whole peoples dedicated to these tasks.

    How disgusting would it be, if your mother cooked you food in a pan, and used the same pan over and over without washing and cleaning it?  It would make the nice thing that was being presented devoid of the sense of love, because it would be bathed in foul material.  If the vessels of the altar are for the Royal One, and they look disgustingly dirty (charred and tar covered) then what does it say about Him, and us who are His Servants?  It may seem like a small thing, and I know I will get the Kumbaya talk about:  "God does not want a clean censer, He wants a clean heart."  However, one must realize that one is a symbolic indicator of the other.

    The holiest place on the earth is in the Holy of Holies--the Holy Altar.  I do not see the decorum there either in conduct, protocol, or in the keeping of that place.  The end effect, is indicative of the underlying pathology and disregard, and maybe, just maybe we have to say the terrible words as a consequence of this appearance--'maybe we do not believe in God as much as we say'.  'Our actions point to the contrary.'

    Lesson #7:

    The reason it so, is because it is so.  THERE IS NO DISCIPLINE.  THEY DON'T READ OR STUDY THE BIBLE.

    How can I prove my point, because Zoxsasi will ask me to prove it:

    1.  The churches (esp. the altars) look like a total mess.
    2.  The deacons when they come to read at the pulpit cannot pronounce most of the words or articulate them well.  They have
    no conviction in reading the Word of God.
    3.  Some will leave the Rites and Sacraments to go talk on their mobiles in the back to girls and the such.
    4.  They come in looking like complete messes as if they came from the basketball court rather than coming to see the King of Kings.
    5.  They do not have a regard for the Sacraments for their own self.
    6.  Look at the vestment closet in each church, it looks disgusting.  For those who are older, they do not do anything about it, and for those who are younger they just throw things in their.
    7.  God forbid you correct someone, in whatever form.

    I wish I had a camera to document all of the above.

    I know I will get the following statements, so for those who are going to do so, I will save you having to write them:

    1.  You should pray about the matter.
    2.  You should not be judgmental.
    3.  Abouna appoints specific people to take care of each matter.  Not every deacon can take care of everything.
    4.  I do not see the things you are saying.
    5.  What do you expect from kids?
    6.  What do you expect from boys?
    7.  My church looks great, I do not know what you are talking about.
    8.  Let us sing Kumbaya together and maybe you will feel better.
    9.  Maybe you should get off your tail and do something about it.
    10.  Well, they have to meet girls somehow.  We want them to marry Coptic girls.
    11.  We do not have rock and roll in the church.  What is this rock star syndrome?
    12.  They will learn.
    13.  What is your solution, big mouth?
    14.  Why don't you do something about it?
    15.  Just tell abouna, and he will take care of it with the other 1000 things.  Abouna has time for all of this, he has nothing better to do.
    16.  I'm deaf, so I like it when the deacons stick their microphone through mouth, throat, larynx, pharynx, and bowels to make those
    horrid sounds.
    17.  I do not read english so I cannot understand what you are saying.
    18.  What was the topic again?
    19.  I'm not a deacon so I should not read this post.
    20.  I'm a girl, can you introduce me to one of these deacons.
    21.  I do not know what fasting, reading the bible, praying, cleaning, and the such are.  I am a hermit.
    22.  If it is not on the projector, I cannot relate to it.
    23.  You are just crazy, insensitive, and judgmental.
    24.  Have you tried talking to the person?
    25.  Did you pray about it?

    Lesson #8:
    Prayer:  Just do it.

    Prayer:  Quality not quantity.

    Prayer:  It is a way of life.

    Prayer:  It is the life of the Way.

    Prayer:  What I want to say.

    Prayer:  Say what is is in my heart.

    Prayer:  Pray that God have mercy on us.

    Lesson #9:

    Don't look like a slob.
    Don't talk like a slob.
    Don't act like a slob.

    Do:  Pray, Sing, be courteous, clean, offer sacrifices.

    Offer your priests and clergy the highest regard and respect.  Help them.

    Offer God the best that you have...not the second best or third best.

    There is nothing more.  

    Putting it simply, conduct yourself like the Master conducted Himself--in full dignity at every moment.

    Lesson #10:

    I'm a Psalms man.  

    When in doubt, read a Psalm.  
    When you are happy, read a Psalm.
    When you have any emotion, read a Psalm.  
    When you are studying, read a Psalm.
    When you need ideas, read a Psalm.  
    When you need to cast out the Devil, read a Psalm.
    When you want to read poetry, read a Psalm.  
    When you are looking for words to express yourself, read a Psalm.
    When you want to pray, read a Psalm.  
    When you want to memorize a poem, read a Psalm.
    When you want to understand parts of the Liturgy, read a Psalm.  
    When you want to talk to the Almighty, read a Psalm.
    When you are desperate, read a Psalm.

    Lesson #11:

    Thou shalt not touch the altar unless it is absolutely necessary.  It (the altar table) is not meant for leaning.
    Thou shalt not clutter the altar with all of your junk.
    Thou shalt not use your mobile phone in the church.
    Thou shalt not discuss the hymns with your pal next to you.
    Thou shalt not suck the microphone down your throat.
    Thou shalt not use cough drops during the Liturgy, because you think your voice is so nice it needs to be supplemented.
    Thou shalt have respect for the deacons that are older and of a higher rank thank you.
    Thou shalt clean the altar, because all of the altars are not well kept at all.
    Thou shalt read and study the Scriptures every Day and Night.
    Thou shalt keep the Commandments as your guide to being a deacon.
    Thou shalt not review the chants during the Liturgy, prior to saying given chant.
    Thou shalt help the priest vest so that he may be able to do his preparatory prayers as he is vesting.
    Thou shalt upkeep the vestments of the priest.
    Thou shalt take the vestments of the priest to be dry cleaned.
    Thou shalt organize the people during Holy Communion receiving.
    Thou shalt not give your back to the Holy Altar.
    Thou shalt not walk in front of the altar.
    Thou shalt not avoid the Fasting Seasons.
    Thou shalt not stay out late the night before Liturgy.
    Thou shalt conduct yourself the same on the days of the week as you do on Sunday.
    Thou shalt not wear clothes with Satanic markings, rock and roll groups, rapper attire, sports attire.
    Remember to participate in the Praises, they help to set for the Divine Liturgy.
    Remember to keep your vestments clean and ironed.  They represent a gift from God.
    Remember to come to church in clean attire.
    Remember to shower before you come to church.
    Remember to offer your tithes to the church, it is part of your service as a deacon.
    Remember to pray for the sake of your service, and the overall service in the church.
    Remember to look for the needs of the priest.  The priest forget themselves, do not take care of themselves.
        It is nice to take care of your father.
    Remember not to make fun of your peers as they say the responses or make mistakes.
    Remember that the chants are not by any means the main focus of your service.
    Remember to learn how to make the Korban, because there may arise an emergency where you will have to do so.
    Remember to take care of the younger deacons in service.
    Remember to study for your schoolwork, so that you do not use your duties as a deacon as an excuse for not doing well.
    Remember to make time from your world duties for the Pascha.
    Remember to keep your service books in good shape.
    Remember to keep your eyes controlled so that they do not wander around the church; especially to check out the chicks (because  you think you are so cool).
    Remember to read the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Timothy ( I & II) to get a feel for the service and duty of the deacon.
    Remember to correlate your daily Scriptural readings with the meanings of the chants to realize their origin.
    Remember that the chants are a prayer, you should understand what you are saying.
    Remember that you are in the service as a deacon always, not just during church.
    Remember that bad movies have a way of infiltrating the mind and blinding you from God's Service.
    Remember that God is doing you a favor and not the reverse.
    Remember that you are a role model to the entire church.
    Remember that you do not have the authority to question the priest, unless their is a theological flaw.
    Remember that the priest is in charge, and you are not.
    Remember that the priest answers to God, not you.
    Remember never ask to be elevated, let God present you with the invitation.
    Remember Thou art mortal.
    Remember that you have a duty to learn as much as you can, e.g., the Scriptures, Theology, and Spiritual Writings.
    Remember to let your seniors receive Holy Communion before you.

  • I think that was the longest post in the History of Tasbeha.org

    If it seems like I have a lot of thoughts on the issue:  YOU ARE RIGHT!!!!!!!


    I saved you the effort of having to read my previous posts.

    You can just print it out.  They are a compilation of previous oldies but goodies of posts that I made.

    Enjoy! or not depending on your given taste.
  • you missed something.....
  • What, my dear Minagir?
  • [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=10589.msg128998#msg128998 date=1296439416]
    What, my dear Minagir?

    oh....i dono.  ;D
    maybe after i read the couple of papers i have about operating systems i'll read the post and let you know......
  • So, my dear internet pal, you were trying to subvert me into thinking I was incomplete.

    If I ever see, as a Marine Drill Sergeant, I will make you do 10 metanias while carrying a sack of flour on your back.
    Thereafter, do ten laps around the church.
    Don't push me, dude.
  • ilovesaintmark,

    Did you type anything new in that post? Although I'd love to read your advice (again), I have other things to do. Can you highlight the stuff that wasn't copy-pasted?

    Btw, Mina was being sarcastic about missing something. You pretty much covered it.
  • Just read your last post now. You caught on to the sarcasm.

    Reminder: laity are pirates... not the foot of soldiers.
  • TITL,

    It was a cut/paste of my oldies.


    Better yet, I will make you eat two-week-old korban.
  • Allow me to add one more thing to your list ilovesaintmark:

    Deacons should not go clubbing, drinking, smoking, and doing other heinous things outside of church and show up the next morning as if nothing happened.  Yes...people have eyes and they see you doing these things.  Please be a better example.
  • [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=10589.msg129002#msg129002 date=1296439929]
    If I ever see, as a Marine Drill Sergeant, I will make you do 10 metanias while carrying a sack of flour on your back.
    Thereafter, do ten laps around the church.
    Don't push me, dude.

    really...i don't mind.....baraka. ;)

    [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=10589.msg129005#msg129005 date=1296440089]
    Better yet, I will make you eat two-week-old korban.

    as long as it's my dads orban.....
  • Godlovesme,

    See, a girl (young lady) had to come and bring things into completion.  Something that Minagir was not capable of achieving.

    I thank you most righteously.
  • [quote author=GODlovesme link=topic=10589.msg129011#msg129011 date=1296440461]
    Allow me to add one more thing to your list ilovesaintmark:

    Deacons should not go clubbing, drinking, smoking, and doing other heinous things outside of church and show up the next morning as if nothing happened.  Yes...people have eyes and they see you doing these things.  Please be a better example.

    Anba Pakhomius ordainde me an epsaltos (i think in 2002/2003--can't rmemeber) and he said this "you smoke once, you automatically lose the rank you just received"
  • Is that the way to get someone thrown out of the diaconate?  Wow.  I'm going to start handing out cigarettes to 98% of the deacons.
  • Why not the other 2%?
  • [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=10589.msg129015#msg129015 date=1296440647]

    See, a girl (young lady) had to come and bring things into completion.  Something that Minagir was not capable of achieving.

    I thank you most righteously.

    No problem...what I have stated is what annoys me most about the deacons...
  • 1% actually does work and service.  The other 1% are still in their diapers.  They would go cry to their mothers.  Their mothers will come after you with a shibshib.
  • Godlovesme,

    Putting all jokes aside, I agree with you wholeheartedly.
  • One other thing: you could teach them some Coptic too ... (Sorry ILSM I'm not sure if you mentioned that in your beast of a post ... I didn't make it through the whole thing :))

    The Coptic used in the liturgy is very easy to learn because the subject matter is all the same. The vocabulary you need to understand the majority of the liturgy is very small. And they should be able to tell the difference between Greek and Coptic.

    These things are MASSIVELY less important than setting a good example and humility, but if you're teaching hymns this stuff is important too. Coptic hymns aren't much good if you don't know what you're singing.

    PS: You should also give them a good guide to pronouncing things properly - I'm not even talking about OB and GB, I just mean basic things like the following:

    It should be KyriE ELEISON rather than KyriA ALAISON.
    Ag-ee-os not Ag-ey-os (and AX-ee-os not Ax-ey-os)
    Ho Theos, not O Theos
    Talcho, not Taletcho
    The Alpha in Coptic is NEVER pronounced like in Apple or bAnd, but ALWAYS like cAr or mAsk.
    Theta is always a TH not an 'S'. If you pronounce it as an 'S' you change the meaning of the word!
    And many, many more ...

    Very small annoyances, but when we say things like this its obvious that we have no idea what we're saying. Probably because 90% of the time we don't. But still, it's a step in the right direction.

    These are my 2c.
    Pray for me.
  • Only thing I wish for deacons to learn is obedience, which comes from humility (another thing they lack).
  • TITL,

    If you read my voluminous rant and reply, you would have gotten that drift.  You get my drift.
  • [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=10589.msg129025#msg129025 date=1296441093]

    Putting all jokes aside, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Hmm...I wish they would learn some time...
  • Most of the deacons at a church (who are youth, there were girls with them as well) got caught by their priest drinking alcohol (to the point of drunkenness) and smoking weed...at a FAMILY retreat!!  A lot of the younger kids who saw them were crying...it was saddening indeed...the deacons couldn't dress for three weeks...I think they should have been banned for life, or at least until their conduct improved.
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