It is likewise decreed that deacons who have sacrificed and afterwards resumed the conflict, shall enjoy their other honours, but shall abstain from every sacred ministry, neither bringing forth the bread and the cup, nor making proclamations. Nevertheless, if any of the bishops shall observe in them distress of mind and meek humiliation, it shall be lawful to the bishops to grant more indulgence, or to take away [what has been granted].
In this canon the work and office of a deacon as then understood is set forth, viz.: “to bring forth” (whatever that may mean) “bread or wine” (ἄρτον ἢ ποτηριον ἄναφέρειν) and “to act the herald” (κηρύσσειν). There is considerable difference of opinion as to the meaning of the first of these expressions. It was p. 64 always the duty of the deacon to serve the priest, especially when he ministered the Holy Communion, but this phrase may refer to one of two such ministrations, either to bringing the bread and wine to the priest at the offertory, and this is the view of Van Espen, or to the distribution of the Holy Sacrament to the people. It has been urged that the deacon had ceased to administer the species of bread before the time of this council, but Hefele shews that the custom had not entirely died out.