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
. 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.