Q: This question came up recently at our seminary. It’s not a big one, but I find it interesting.
When there are two deacons serving a Mass, one serving as Deacon of the Word and the other as Deacon of the Eucharist, does it matter which one does the dismissal?
My thought was that since the dismissal is at the end of Mass, and thus the end of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, then the Deacon of the Eucharist is responsible for it since it is his “side” of the Mass. The vice-rector here provisionally thinks (pending further investigation) that the deacon doing the public proclamations till that point ought do it. The fly in that ointment is that the Deacon of the Eucharist usually handles the kiss of peace formula (which the Ordinary here has suppressed for the flu season). So at that point, both deacons have had a speaking part.
The GIRM and the rubrics seem silent on this point, suggesting to me that it does not really matter. What do you think?
A: As you correctly point out, the rubrics are silent. And if you go to the Ceremonial of Bishops, you find something else altogether. Although it is customary for two deacons to take the roles of “word” and “eucharist”, none of the liturgical books ever makes that distinction. At a pontifical stational mass, three deacons are envisioned, and I’m trying to move that direction in this diocese. The deacon “of the word” is not so designated, but what’s interesting is that – according to the Ceremonial – he does not take a seat next to the bishop. Two other deacons do. The deacon who proclaims the gospel also carries the book in the entrance procession, but that’s about it. He’s probably sitting outside the sanctuary for the mass. The two deacons assisting the bishop do the rest, but the CB does not delineate who does what.
Bottom line, you’ve got some flexibility here. And I think you can argue the case either way. Just come up with a local custom that makes sense, and stay with it.