Most folks are familiar with Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO. On 19 March 1949 he was ordained a deacon, and he wrote the following reflection shortly after his ordination. As you read it, please keep in mind that in 1949, the Latin Church still had the longstanding "cursus honorum" ("course of honors") by which a man entered the clergy through a rite known as Tonsure, then progressed up the "minor orders" of porter, lector, exorcist and acolyte. He then moved on to the major orders of subdiaconate, diaconate and priesthood. The fact that the diaconate was known as one of the "major" orders explains the starting point for Merton's reflection, but as you will see, it doesn't exhaust its meaning for him.
The first thing about the diaconate is that it is big. The more I think about it the more I realize that it is a Major Order. You are supposed to be the strength of the Church. You receive the Holy Spirit ad robur, not only for yourself, but to support the whole Church.So diaconal service, far from being focused on menial "tasks" can be seen in quite a different light. I believe that it ties in nicely with our earlier reflections on the servant-leadership to which the deacon is called and ordained.