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Author Topic: How are those of the "minor orders" received in your church?  (Read 3472 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 22, 2009, 10:05:26 PM »

I really don't know how to explain my question but I will try to the best of my ability.  I have been "around the block" in terms of orthodox churches and experiences and everywhere I go there is a plethora of ways that I have seen those of the minor orders be received in churches.  Some churches they wear a rasso/anderi, others they don't wear anything.  At some monasteries if they know that the person is a tonsured reader they receive communion before everyone else (except for the nuns/monks).  I have also seen many different ways of receiving seminarians, at different churches. 

Now I would love to hear what other people's experiences have been (being point 1). 

I also would love to hear people's opinions as to whether or not some kind of "taxi" or order should be followed and what it should be.  (point 2)

Anyway, sorry for being so unclear but the question isn't concrete in my head, its just something i've noticed and am curious about other people's experiences. 
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2009, 10:47:50 PM »

Often those in minor orders seem to be pushed out of the way by the people who were only doing his job per economia. Have a tonsured reader in church? Well, let him do his job(s). 
It even gets more of a grey area when dealing with subdeacons.  Ordained Subdeacons are actually subdeacons but yet you have guys who were BLESSED to wear the orarion calling themselves subdeacons.  They aren't subdeacons, they're readers blessed to wear the orarion and should consequently refrain from calling themselves subdeacons. 

Here the tonsured reader at the Antiochian church wears an outer cassock.  The Slavic parishes readers and subdeacons just wear an inner cassock.  Some wear a vest too..

I'm a stickler for details and would prefer to see communion done like this;
Bishop, Priest, Deacon.. then outside of the altar; ordained subdeacons, tonsured readers, etc... And it's not much to ask to have them put on their garb before the Our Father.  If anything, they should, in my opinion be wearing at min. a cassock to receive.  I know in my parish we follow that rule.
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2009, 10:58:03 PM »

Often those in minor orders seem to be pushed out of the way by the people who were only doing his job per economia. Have a tonsured reader in church? Well, let him do his job(s). 
It even gets more of a grey area when dealing with subdeacons.  Ordained Subdeacons are actually subdeacons but yet you have guys who were BLESSED to wear the orarion calling themselves subdeacons.  They aren't subdeacons, they're readers blessed to wear the orarion and should consequently refrain from calling themselves subdeacons. 

Here the tonsured reader at the Antiochian church wears an outer cassock.  The Slavic parishes readers and subdeacons just wear an inner cassock.  Some wear a vest too..

I'm a stickler for details and would prefer to see communion done like this;
Bishop, Priest, Deacon.. then outside of the altar; ordained subdeacons, tonsured readers, etc... And it's not much to ask to have them put on their garb before the Our Father.  If anything, they should, in my opinion be wearing at min. a cassock to receive.  I know in my parish we follow that rule.

Out of curiousity, where would you put seminarians in that mix? 

Also, how do you feel about the standard order of Subdeacon, acolyte, chanter, reader.  As far as I remember from conversations and texts i've read in the past this is the standard order.  thoughts?
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2009, 06:57:21 AM »

I've read from Greek Traditionalists that the rasson is the appropriate robe for a reader.

I'll summarily answer part of your question from my experience. Readers and subdeacons, whether they are seminarians or not, would be the first to commune after the celebrant's invitation, "In the Fear of God...", if they are serving either in the Sanctuary or at the Chanter's Stand wearing a robe, although they may individually chose to be last, such as in the case of a Chanter who is chanting during the reception of Holy Communion.  I would say in my experience, there is nothing called for in this regard, in terms of protocol.  It largely depends on whether the celebrant has a protocol.  Seminarians in general, and/or readers and subdeacons, who are not serving, joining in worship with the laity, have no precedence.  I've never read or seen any practice as to seminarians as a classification of lower orders.  They are classified by the lower order to which they have been set apart, along side laity, who haven't attended a seminary, who are set apart.
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2009, 07:35:08 AM »

Often those in minor orders seem to be pushed out of the way by the people who were only doing his job per economia. Have a tonsured reader in church? Well, let him do his job(s). 
It even gets more of a grey area when dealing with subdeacons.  Ordained Subdeacons are actually subdeacons but yet you have guys who were BLESSED to wear the orarion calling themselves subdeacons.  They aren't subdeacons, they're readers blessed to wear the orarion and should consequently refrain from calling themselves subdeacons. 

Here the tonsured reader at the Antiochian church wears an outer cassock.  The Slavic parishes readers and subdeacons just wear an inner cassock.  Some wear a vest too..

I'm a stickler for details and would prefer to see communion done like this;
Bishop, Priest, Deacon.. then outside of the altar; ordained subdeacons, tonsured readers, etc... And it's not much to ask to have them put on their garb before the Our Father.  If anything, they should, in my opinion be wearing at min. a cassock to receive.  I know in my parish we follow that rule.

Out of curiousity, where would you put seminarians in that mix? 

Also, how do you feel about the standard order of Subdeacon, acolyte, chanter, reader.  As far as I remember from conversations and texts i've read in the past this is the standard order.  thoughts?

Well, After the Bishop, Priest and Deacon commune the precedence should be then ordained Subdeacons then tonsured readers.  I guess you could say a reader or a subdeacon could be filling the role of an acolyte or chanter in which case he would/should take communion according to the above prescribed order.  I'd say the same for seminarians, if he is a reader or subdeacon then he would/should take his place in the queue as such. 
In some parishes around here (mostly OCA this happens in) the parish council members get communion first, starting with the president, vice president, etc... then, and yes, THEN their tonsured reader gets communion.  So really in this case the priest has about ZERO say on the order of communion.  If your parish council has arranged it so they receive communion first you can pretty much tell they are more of a congregationalist entity.
I'm not sure about seminarians that aren't in minor orders.  I'd say if they do let them go up before others it is because they are honored guests in the parish and the action shows a little encouragement and support to the guys for the burdens they have taken on by entering seminary.
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2009, 03:11:11 PM »

Often those in minor orders seem to be pushed out of the way by the people who were only doing his job per economia. Have a tonsured reader in church? Well, let him do his job(s). 
It even gets more of a grey area when dealing with subdeacons.  Ordained Subdeacons are actually subdeacons but yet you have guys who were BLESSED to wear the orarion calling themselves subdeacons.  They aren't subdeacons, they're readers blessed to wear the orarion and should consequently refrain from calling themselves subdeacons. 

Here the tonsured reader at the Antiochian church wears an outer cassock.  The Slavic parishes readers and subdeacons just wear an inner cassock.  Some wear a vest too..

I'm a stickler for details and would prefer to see communion done like this;
Bishop, Priest, Deacon.. then outside of the altar; ordained subdeacons, tonsured readers, etc... And it's not much to ask to have them put on their garb before the Our Father.  If anything, they should, in my opinion be wearing at min. a cassock to receive.  I know in my parish we follow that rule.

Out of curiousity, where would you put seminarians in that mix? 

Also, how do you feel about the standard order of Subdeacon, acolyte, chanter, reader.  As far as I remember from conversations and texts i've read in the past this is the standard order.  thoughts?

Well, After the Bishop, Priest and Deacon commune the precedence should be then ordained Subdeacons then tonsured readers.  I guess you could say a reader or a subdeacon could be filling the role of an acolyte or chanter in which case he would/should take communion according to the above prescribed order.  I'd say the same for seminarians, if he is a reader or subdeacon then he would/should take his place in the queue as such. 
In some parishes around here (mostly OCA this happens in) the parish council members get communion first, starting with the president, vice president, etc... then, and yes, THEN their tonsured reader gets communion.  So really in this case the priest has about ZERO say on the order of communion.  If your parish council has arranged it so they receive communion first you can pretty much tell they are more of a congregationalist entity.
I'm not sure about seminarians that aren't in minor orders.  I'd say if they do let them go up before others it is because they are honored guests in the parish and the action shows a little encouragement and support to the guys for the burdens they have taken on by entering seminary.

My question about seminarians comes from a thought one of my friends had once.  He said (very superfluously I might add) that seminarian should definitely go before chanters and readers because as seminarians we do both of those things, plus we have  dedicated ourselves to studying about God.  Any joe shmo can go up there and read.  (like I said, very superfluously). 

Any thoughts on that? 
 
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2009, 03:12:34 PM »

I've read from Greek Traditionalists that the rasson is the appropriate robe for a reader.

I'll summarily answer part of your question from my experience. Readers and subdeacons, whether they are seminarians or not, would be the first to commune after the celebrant's invitation, "In the Fear of God...", if they are serving either in the Sanctuary or at the Chanter's Stand wearing a robe, although they may individually chose to be last, such as in the case of a Chanter who is chanting during the reception of Holy Communion.  I would say in my experience, there is nothing called for in this regard, in terms of protocol.  It largely depends on whether the celebrant has a protocol.  Seminarians in general, and/or readers and subdeacons, who are not serving, joining in worship with the laity, have no precedence.  I've never read or seen any practice as to seminarians as a classification of lower orders.  They are classified by the lower order to which they have been set apart, along side laity, who haven't attended a seminary, who are set apart.

Seminarians technically are not in the minor orders. but what I will add is that at least at Hellenic College/Holy Cross seminarians recieve "official" seminarian status from the archdiocese and they wear a seminarian's cross to denote that.  Also, those in their final year recieve a "rasso" in a "rassoforia" service.  They are then given the blessing to preach and teach, which a reader or chanter cannot do...techinically (I believe).  So, hence some of the confusion on my end of this...
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2009, 03:27:33 PM »

Seminarians technically are not in the minor orders. but what I will add is that at least at Hellenic College/Holy Cross seminarians recieve "official" seminarian status from the archdiocese and they wear a seminarian's cross to denote that.  Also, those in their final year recieve a "rasso" in a "rassoforia" service.  They are then given the blessing to preach and teach, which a reader or chanter cannot do...techinically (I believe).  So, hence some of the confusion on my end of this...

It is because seminarians are not in the minor orders that HC has the rassoforia service.
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2009, 03:39:55 PM »

Seminarians technically are not in the minor orders. but what I will add is that at least at Hellenic College/Holy Cross seminarians recieve "official" seminarian status from the archdiocese and they wear a seminarian's cross to denote that.  Also, those in their final year recieve a "rasso" in a "rassoforia" service.  They are then given the blessing to preach and teach, which a reader or chanter cannot do...techinically (I believe).  So, hence some of the confusion on my end of this...

It is because seminarians are not in the minor orders that HC has the rassoforia service.

Do you happen to know the history behind this?  I've heard a few different versions of this...
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2010, 08:36:20 AM »

Some churches they wear a rasso/anderi, others they don't wear anything.

They don't wear anythingShocked

Quote
At some monasteries if they know that the person is a tonsured reader they receive communion before everyone else (except for the nuns/monks).

This is normal parish practice, in my experience.  We receive Communion in canonical order.  So before/after the Lord's Prayer, we vest according to our order in the church.  Clergy who are present but not serving will vest to receive according to their order while laymen who are serving in the altar wll remove their stikhars to receive as laymen.  Then bishops receive in canonical order, priests in order, deacons in order, subdeacons, readers, monastics, children, then everyone else.
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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2010, 10:47:53 AM »

Some churches they wear a rasso/anderi, others they don't wear anything.

They don't wear anythingShocked

Quote
At some monasteries if they know that the person is a tonsured reader they receive communion before everyone else (except for the nuns/monks).

This is normal parish practice, in my experience.  We receive Communion in canonical order.  So before/after the Lord's Prayer, we vest according to our order in the church.  Clergy who are present but not serving will vest to receive according to their order while laymen who are serving in the altar wll remove their stikhars to receive as laymen.  Then bishops receive in canonical order, priests in order, deacons in order, subdeacons, readers, monastics, children, then everyone else.

how do children receive in canonical order?  birthdate?  Wink Grin Shocked
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« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2010, 10:56:09 AM »

Oops! Sloppy wording on my part.  I'm sorry.  laugh
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« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2010, 10:58:01 AM »

Does anyone know the minimum (canonical) age for ordination to subdeacon? I ask because there's a boy at my parish who can't be older than 8, who was ordained a subdeacon by a bishop in Bulgaria. It was quite incredible to see this tiny man wearing the vestments yesterday during liturgy. In the US he had been a zealous altar boy; when his family went back to Bulgaria for most of the year, he wanted to continue being an altar boy. However, the Bulgarian church doesn't really have altar boys, so it was decided to ordain him subdeacon.
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« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2010, 10:58:51 AM »

Oops! Sloppy wording on my part.  I'm sorry.  laugh

I know...I was just returning the favor...lol.  Your post was very informative though.  

Out of curiosity, when the seminarians received would they do it in a particular order?  Like by year or anything like that?  Just curious.  

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« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2010, 10:59:56 AM »

Does anyone know the minimum (canonical) age for ordination to subdeacon? I ask because there's a boy at my parish who can't be older than 8, who was ordained a subdeacon by a bishop in Bulgaria. It was quite incredible to see this tiny man wearing the vestments yesterday during liturgy. In the US he had been a zealous altar boy; when his family went back to Bulgaria for most of the year, he wanted to continue being an altar boy. However, the Bulgarian church doesn't really have altar boys, so it was decided to ordain him subdeacon.

as far as I know there's no canonical age limit, but usually they wait until the person is "of age" and knows what they're getting into in terms of their service & order. 
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« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2010, 11:23:33 AM »

Some churches they wear a rasso/anderi, others they don't wear anything.

They don't wear anythingShocked

LOL.  The night before my son was vested as an acolyte, the priest said to him "Son, tommorrow we are going to cover your nakedness."  My son later turned to me and whispered "He's joking, right?"
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« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2010, 07:32:38 PM »

Oops! Sloppy wording on my part.  I'm sorry.  laugh

I know...I was just returning the favor...lol.  Your post was very informative though.  

Out of curiosity, when the seminarians received would they do it in a particular order?  Like by year or anything like that?  Just curious.  



Thank you, serb1389.

My experience of seminarians at the Liturgy is non-existent, (such is our situation in the UK. Please pray for us).  However, I can give my thoughts.  Seminarians, while in formation for the priesthood or disconate, are not a separate sacramental or canonical order of their own.  Some seminarians may be laymen, some readers, some subdeacons, and so forth.  As such, I would imagine that they ought to receive according to their order.  I know that seminarians are usually blessed to wear the under-cassock but this on its own does not change what they are.  For instance, readers who are blessed to wear the orar and perform some of the functions of subdeacons, (which sometimes happens for pastoral or practical reasons), at the time of Communion, still receive in order as readers.

This is just a guess on my part but it seems to me to make sense.

Does anyone know the minimum (canonical) age for ordination to subdeacon? I ask because there's a boy at my parish who can't be older than 8, who was ordained a subdeacon by a bishop in Bulgaria. It was quite incredible to see this tiny man wearing the vestments yesterday during liturgy. In the US he had been a zealous altar boy; when his family went back to Bulgaria for most of the year, he wanted to continue being an altar boy. However, the Bulgarian church doesn't really have altar boys, so it was decided to ordain him subdeacon.

 Embarrassed

Iconodule, I concur with serb1389 that I know of no canonical minimum age for ordaining a subdeacon but that he should be old and mature enough to understand the grave undertaking of being among the clergy - even it is only the minor clergy.  I'm a little older than this young man and I am finding the adjustment to a new role, to new expectations from my fellow parishioners, and to new responsibilities a big leap.

This news of a child so young being ordained to the subdiaconate causes me some serious concern.  Are you absolutely sure he was ordained as a subdeacon or could he have perhaps been ordained as a reader and simply blessed to wear the stole/orar in the style of a subdeacon?  The answer to this question is none of my business and I do not ask you to share it publicly but it is a very serious distinction and one which the boy and his family should really have clear in their understanding.  The reason is that the subdiaconate is the point from which clergy are canonically forbidden to marry.  A married man may be ordained as a subdeacon, but once a single man has been so ordained, he then may not marry without being deposed.  So essentially, when a bishop ordains an unmarried man to the subdiaconate, he is asking him to commit himself to a life of celibacy, which seems like a very heavy burden to place on the shoulders of an eight-year-old boy.  How can he know what life will have in store for him?  What happens when he grows up and falls in love, but also because of years of service at the altar of God, feels a call to priesthood?  He will have to choose.  I just cannot imagine that.  For me, this was a conscious decision I made as an adult, fully aware of the implicatons for my life.  But this boy is... well, a boy!  If an altar server is what was needed and they aren't accustomed to having lay servers in Bulgaria, then they could have simply made him a reader, and he would have been able to do everything a subdeacon can do except operate the doors and veil, and touch the Holy Table and the Oblations table - and he would still be allowed to marry if he wished.

I have been told of anecdotal cases where bishops have ordained teenagers as subdeacons, and that when the boys have come of age and, as young men, wanted to get married, the bishops' successors have realised that this transgression of the canons was not due to wilful disobedience on the part of the boys but rather the immense irresponsibility of their predecessors in placing the burden of life-long celibacy on teenage boys.  In these cases, instead of the young subdeacons being deposed, they have been discreetly laicised with no stigma and no canonical penalties, so that they can marry.  However, it still means that if any of them found that his heart lay in service in the altar at the worship of God by his people, he would have to leave this behind if he wanted to marry.

I have heard that some bishops disregard the canons and customarily allow subdeacons to marry, although I have never known of this myself. However, seeing as many (most?) bishops still remain obedient to the canons, I can see the potential for problems being caused as a result of this, especially if a subdeacon who later marries tries to transfer to another bishop, only to learn that he cannot be accepted because of his uncanonical situation.

Perhaps we do need a minimum canonical age for subdeacons to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

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« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2010, 08:05:49 PM »

I can't imagine an 8 year old becoming a subdeacon! That seems truly absurd. Maybe he was just blessed to wear the subdeacon's vestments; at my parish our senior altar servers wear the vestments of the subdeacon during hierarchical services, but they aren't ordained by any stretch of the imagination-and they're men in their 30s, 40s. I remember being completely shocked when I saw many of our servers suddenly decked out in those vestments when the bishop came for a service, and asking if these guys had suddenly been ordained! The reply was, "No, but when the bishop comes, they are allowed to wear the subdeacon's vestments".
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« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2010, 08:28:16 PM »

I can't imagine an 8 year old becoming a subdeacon! That seems truly absurd. Maybe he was just blessed to wear the subdeacon's vestments; at my parish our senior altar servers wear the vestments of the subdeacon during hierarchical services, but they aren't ordained by any stretch of the imagination-and they're men in their 30s, 40s. I remember being completely shocked when I saw many of our servers suddenly decked out in those vestments when the bishop came for a service, and asking if these guys had suddenly been ordained! The reply was, "No, but when the bishop comes, they are allowed to wear the subdeacon's vestments".

A blessing to temporarily allow experienced altarboys to serve as subdeacons due to a lack of ordained subdeacons during an episcopal service is not unheard of. It has happened in the parish I attend. Both lads were in their late teens, and both later went on to marry without any impediment at all.
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« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2010, 08:29:44 PM »

Commonly in our (GOA) parish, the priest blesses new acolytes annually.  Occasionally, when the Metropolitan shows up, he will do a chirotonia and tonsuring after Vespers; this is how I was tonsured a Reader.
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« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2010, 11:20:34 PM »

Oops! Sloppy wording on my part.  I'm sorry.  laugh

I know...I was just returning the favor...lol.  Your post was very informative though.  

Out of curiosity, when the seminarians received would they do it in a particular order?  Like by year or anything like that?  Just curious.  



Thank you, serb1389.

My experience of seminarians at the Liturgy is non-existent, (such is our situation in the UK. Please pray for us).  However, I can give my thoughts.  Seminarians, while in formation for the priesthood or disconate, are not a separate sacramental or canonical order of their own.  Some seminarians may be laymen, some readers, some subdeacons, and so forth.  As such, I would imagine that they ought to receive according to their order.  I know that seminarians are usually blessed to wear the under-cassock but this on its own does not change what they are.  For instance, readers who are blessed to wear the orar and perform some of the functions of subdeacons, (which sometimes happens for pastoral or practical reasons), at the time of Communion, still receive in order as readers.

This is just a guess on my part but it seems to me to make sense.

Does anyone know the minimum (canonical) age for ordination to subdeacon? I ask because there's a boy at my parish who can't be older than 8, who was ordained a subdeacon by a bishop in Bulgaria. It was quite incredible to see this tiny man wearing the vestments yesterday during liturgy. In the US he had been a zealous altar boy; when his family went back to Bulgaria for most of the year, he wanted to continue being an altar boy. However, the Bulgarian church doesn't really have altar boys, so it was decided to ordain him subdeacon.

 Embarrassed

Iconodule, I concur with serb1389 that I know of no canonical minimum age for ordaining a subdeacon but that he should be old and mature enough to understand the grave undertaking of being among the clergy - even it is only the minor clergy.  I'm a little older than this young man and I am finding the adjustment to a new role, to new expectations from my fellow parishioners, and to new responsibilities a big leap.

This news of a child so young being ordained to the subdiaconate causes me some serious concern.  Are you absolutely sure he was ordained as a subdeacon or could he have perhaps been ordained as a reader and simply blessed to wear the stole/orar in the style of a subdeacon?  The answer to this question is none of my business and I do not ask you to share it publicly but it is a very serious distinction and one which the boy and his family should really have clear in their understanding.  The reason is that the subdiaconate is the point from which clergy are canonically forbidden to marry.  A married man may be ordained as a subdeacon, but once a single man has been so ordained, he then may not marry without being deposed.  So essentially, when a bishop ordains an unmarried man to the subdiaconate, he is asking him to commit himself to a life of celibacy, which seems like a very heavy burden to place on the shoulders of an eight-year-old boy.  How can he know what life will have in store for him?  What happens when he grows up and falls in love, but also because of years of service at the altar of God, feels a call to priesthood?  He will have to choose.  I just cannot imagine that.  For me, this was a conscious decision I made as an adult, fully aware of the implicatons for my life.  But this boy is... well, a boy!  If an altar server is what was needed and they aren't accustomed to having lay servers in Bulgaria, then they could have simply made him a reader, and he would have been able to do everything a subdeacon can do except operate the doors and veil, and touch the Holy Table and the Oblations table - and he would still be allowed to marry if he wished.

I have been told of anecdotal cases where bishops have ordained teenagers as subdeacons, and that when the boys have come of age and, as young men, wanted to get married, the bishops' successors have realised that this transgression of the canons was not due to wilful disobedience on the part of the boys but rather the immense irresponsibility of their predecessors in placing the burden of life-long celibacy on teenage boys.  In these cases, instead of the young subdeacons being deposed, they have been discreetly laicised with no stigma and no canonical penalties, so that they can marry.  However, it still means that if any of them found that his heart lay in service in the altar at the worship of God by his people, he would have to leave this behind if he wanted to marry.

I have heard that some bishops disregard the canons and customarily allow subdeacons to marry, although I have never known of this myself. However, seeing as many (most?) bishops still remain obedient to the canons, I can see the potential for problems being caused as a result of this, especially if a subdeacon who later marries tries to transfer to another bishop, only to learn that he cannot be accepted because of his uncanonical situation.

Perhaps we do need a minimum canonical age for subdeacons to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

In Christ,
Michael

You're welcome!  I meant it! 

Just so you know, in some traditions (like the Antiochian Archdiocese here in the US) subdeacons can be tonsured without being married and STILL get married. 

Technically, according to the way we learned it, the tonsuring of a subdeacon is called "heirothesia" and the ordination is called "heirotonia" which are two distinct understandings of what is taking place.  Is it the same understanding for you??
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« Reply #21 on: June 01, 2010, 12:27:00 AM »

I'm not sure which is which:  in one, the bishop lays only one hand on you; in the other, he lays both.  The latter form is used for ordinations of the major clergy.
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« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2010, 03:25:40 AM »

Dear serb1389 and Cymbyz,

Perhaps some of your questions may be answered in this post I submitted to another thread yesterday, especially the canonical question of marriage.

There seems to be some confusion over terminology so I shall try to clarify.  It is commonplace to hear people speak of someone being "tonsured a reader" but this is inaccurate, although understandable.  The tonsure is the means whereby a man enters the ranks of the clergy so it happens as part of the rite of the ordination of a reader but it is not the means whereby he becomes a reader.  All orders, including that of reader, are performed by prayer and the laying on of the bishop's hands, which in English is commonly called ordination.  Therefore, one is technically ordained a reader, not tonsured; and certainly one is not tonsured a subdeacon because there is no tonsuring involved in the rite of ordination of subdeacons.  The clerical tonsure is performed only once and is not repeated.

The two Greek words for this laying on of hands are cheirothesia and cheirotonia.  Until relatively recently, these did not have any particular set meaning and were often used interchangeably.  However, an agreed use for each word has been established, so that cheirothesia is used for ordinations to minor orders and cheirotonia is used for ordinations to major orders.  Both words mean something to the effect of the laying on of hands.  However, cheirotonia is understood as the Mystery/Sacrament of Holy Orders, used for bishops, priests, and deacons, who directly serve the Mystery of the Eucharist at the Holy Table, while cheirotonia is not part of the Mystery of Holy Orders but is seen as a setting a man apart for particular service within the life of the Church, whether as a subdeacon, a reader, or a chanter, (or indeed an acolyte in those places where acolytes are still ordained).

Unfortunately, my coding skills are not sufficiently advanced to include a table here so I shall simply have to list some of the differences as paragraphs. It will not be as clear as a table for which I apologise.

Major orders are given inside the altar and always within the context of the Divine Liturgy, at the point appropriate to the particular order concerned. So bishops are ordained after the Lesser Entrance, in time for the new hierarch to be able to take his place at the cathedra/presbyterium. Priests are ordained at the Great Entrance, in time to take part in the Liturgy of the Faithful, specifically at the consecration and distribution of Communion. Deacons are ordained immediately after the Anaphora, just before the Litany of the Lord's Prayer: just before the time when a deacon would re-arrange his orar to take up the practical assistance of the distribution of Communion.

By contrast, ordinations to minor orders take place outside the altar and always in a context outside the Divine Liturgy, (usually during the Hours or possibly at Vespers).

Ordinations to major orders always involve the calling down of the divine grace of the Holy Spirit on the candidate. This invocation, which is absent from minor ordinations, is considered an important distinction between cheirotonia and cheirothesia. Here is the example from the ordination of deacons:

The divine grace, which always heals that which is infirm, and supplies that which is lacking, ordains N., the most pious subdeacon, to be a deacon. Therefore, let us pray for him, that the grace of the All-Holy Spirit may come upon him.

In cheirotonia (major orders), this invocation is followed by two prayers of ordination, while there is only one prayer of ordination in cheirothesia (minor orders).

Finally, those in major orders receive Communion in order within the altar while those in minor orders receive Communion outside the altar, with the laity.

I hope this helps a little.

In Christ,
Michael
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« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2010, 12:44:39 PM »

Your description matches my understanding.  My induction as a Reader took place after Vespers, and consisted of chirothesia with prayer followed by tonsure.  All inductions into the minor clergy that I have seen take place outside Liturgy--after Liturgy, Vespers, or Orthros--and are done on the soleas, at the Bishop's throne.
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« Reply #24 on: June 01, 2010, 01:17:39 PM »

Subdeacon Michael,

I don't think serb1389's confusion was as much about the actual ordination as it is about a wrinkle of ecclesiology in the U.S.  At least two of the jurisdictions in the U.S. allow Subdeacons to marry after their ordination, and in more than one instance it was explained to me that in the one case (OCA) the subdeacons in question weren't fully ordained (no laying of hands), but rather had the prayer and the tonsure without the laying of hands, which is how they "got around" the canonical restrictions regarding the marriage of subdeacons.  I don't like it, but it is a question that is "beyond my pay grade" (so to speak).
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« Reply #25 on: June 01, 2010, 01:22:56 PM »

Dear serb1389 and Cymbyz,

Perhaps some of your questions may be answered in this post I submitted to another thread yesterday, especially the canonical question of marriage.

There seems to be some confusion over terminology so I shall try to clarify.  It is commonplace to hear people speak of someone being "tonsured a reader" but this is inaccurate, although understandable.  The tonsure is the means whereby a man enters the ranks of the clergy so it happens as part of the rite of the ordination of a reader but it is not the means whereby he becomes a reader.  All orders, including that of reader, are performed by prayer and the laying on of the bishop's hands, which in English is commonly called ordination.  Therefore, one is technically ordained a reader, not tonsured; and certainly one is not tonsured a subdeacon because there is no tonsuring involved in the rite of ordination of subdeacons.  The clerical tonsure is performed only once and is not repeated.

The two Greek words for this laying on of hands are cheirothesia and cheirotonia.  Until relatively recently, these did not have any particular set meaning and were often used interchangeably.  However, an agreed use for each word has been established, so that cheirothesia is used for ordinations to minor orders and cheirotonia is used for ordinations to major orders.  Both words mean something to the effect of the laying on of hands.  However, cheirotonia is understood as the Mystery/Sacrament of Holy Orders, used for bishops, priests, and deacons, who directly serve the Mystery of the Eucharist at the Holy Table, while cheirotonia is not part of the Mystery of Holy Orders but is seen as a setting a man apart for particular service within the life of the Church, whether as a subdeacon, a reader, or a chanter, (or indeed an acolyte in those places where acolytes are still ordained).

Unfortunately, my coding skills are not sufficiently advanced to include a table here so I shall simply have to list some of the differences as paragraphs. It will not be as clear as a table for which I apologise.

Major orders are given inside the altar and always within the context of the Divine Liturgy, at the point appropriate to the particular order concerned. So bishops are ordained after the Lesser Entrance, in time for the new hierarch to be able to take his place at the cathedra/presbyterium. Priests are ordained at the Great Entrance, in time to take part in the Liturgy of the Faithful, specifically at the consecration and distribution of Communion. Deacons are ordained immediately after the Anaphora, just before the Litany of the Lord's Prayer: just before the time when a deacon would re-arrange his orar to take up the practical assistance of the distribution of Communion.

By contrast, ordinations to minor orders take place outside the altar and always in a context outside the Divine Liturgy, (usually during the Hours or possibly at Vespers).

Ordinations to major orders always involve the calling down of the divine grace of the Holy Spirit on the candidate. This invocation, which is absent from minor ordinations, is considered an important distinction between cheirotonia and cheirothesia. Here is the example from the ordination of deacons:

The divine grace, which always heals that which is infirm, and supplies that which is lacking, ordains N., the most pious subdeacon, to be a deacon. Therefore, let us pray for him, that the grace of the All-Holy Spirit may come upon him.

In cheirotonia (major orders), this invocation is followed by two prayers of ordination, while there is only one prayer of ordination in cheirothesia (minor orders).

Finally, those in major orders receive Communion in order within the altar while those in minor orders receive Communion outside the altar, with the laity.

I hope this helps a little.

In Christ,
Michael

I basically agree with the core of what you said and I only disagree with some of the little statements like the idea that heirothesia & heirotonia are new terms that have been adopted.  I'm not sure what you mean by "new" as I was fairly certain those have been used for many centuries. I would be interested in seeing if maybe they even used them in some of the ancient euhologia such as the barbarini codex, etc. 

The other question I have is how you understand all of the minor orders.  Do you put acolytes above chanters, or in the mix at all?  As we were commonly told it went:

Reader
Chanter
Acolyte
Subdeacon

Just curious. 
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« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2010, 01:38:58 PM »

This news of a child so young being ordained to the subdiaconate causes me some serious concern.  Are you absolutely sure he was ordained as a subdeacon or could he have perhaps been ordained as a reader and simply blessed to wear the stole/orar in the style of a subdeacon? 

I'm not absolutely sure but he was described as a subdeacon, both by his parents and our priest, without qualification. Now, I can understand that you would be shocked at a child being ordained, but he isn't an ordinary boy... he loves the Church and liturgy and, his parents tell me, he even plays "priest" where other kids play house. His parents certainly don't seem to be the sort who would pressure their child into it. Of course we all wanted to be firemen or astronauts when we were little, which didn't necessarily mean that's what we should do, nevertheless I feel somehow that this decision was the right one. Well, time will tell and God will show us.  As for the issue of marrying, I imagine that a canonical dispensation would be made for him.
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« Reply #27 on: June 01, 2010, 05:22:43 PM »

Thank you, all, for your responses and clarifications.  Thank you, especially, Fr George, for your explanation of the state of affairs in North America.  I think that, if I were to ask my bishop if I could marry, he would ask me if I had gone quite mad.  Grin  We may do many things in the Church Abroad, but that isn't one of them.

Iconodule, have you seen the DVD of the life of St John?  In it, Bishop Peter of Cleveland relates the story told him by St John's sister of how, as a boy, he owned a set of toy soldiers, but instead of playing military games he would do re-enactments of services in a monastery.  Perhaps there are things that God has in store for this young man that we mortals cannot see.

Serb1389, forgive me if I was careless in my expression.  I didn't mean that the words cheirotonia and cheirothesia are new but rather that the specifically defined way in which we now use them today is relatively recent.  Prior to that, these words were indeed used but with greater fluidity of meaning.  At least this is how it was explained to me.  I have done no research myself.

As for where chanters and acolytes fit in, I honestly don't know.  My limited experience and conversation with others suggests that the ordination of chanters seems to have long ago fallen into disuse outside of the Greek and some parts of the Antiochian churches, although it is clearly an ancient order as it is referred to in the canons.  Belonging to the Russian church, I  have no direct experience of chanters.  As for acolytes, when I became Orthodox, having long been pleased that Orthodoxy had retained the minor orders, I was surprised to learn that the order of acolyte had also fallen into general disuse.  It is only within the last year that I have learnt that some Greek bishops still ordain acolytes.  Again, through lack of experience of them, I do not know, although the absorption of the ordination of taper-bearers (presumably the same as acolytes? I welcome correction on this point) into that of readers would nseem to suggest that they would rank lower than readers.  Yet, seeming to contradict this is the text of the ordination service for readers itself, in which the bishop tells the new reader that the order of reader is the first degree of priesthood. So there it is - clear as mud.  Embarrassed

In Christ,
Michael
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« Reply #28 on: June 01, 2010, 05:37:20 PM »

As for acolytes, when I became Orthodox, having long been pleased that Orthodoxy had retained the minor orders, I was surprised to learn that the order of acolyte had also fallen into general disuse.  It is only within the last year that I have learnt that some Greek bishops still ordain acolytes. 

They do, but they use the prayer (and the order) of Reader when they do so (in my experience), rather than a specific prayer of an acolyte/taper-bearer.
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