Greetings in the Lord Jesus Christ,
I am a tonsured reader in the Greek Orthodox Church. I have served the Orthodox Church for a number of years, in the Russian, Serbian, and Greek traditions (I am 21 years old). I had a question about the subdiaconate
1.) I know the antiochians and the OCA tonsure subdeacons as kind of "Super altar boys." Does the Greek Orthodox Church do that in this country?
I know that this thread is very but I think that it is worth resuscuitation to clear up a thing or two.
Nobody is tonsured a subdeacon. The Orthodox Church has three types of tonsure, which occur at certain points in a Christian's life as part of offering of himself to God. The first is the baptismal tonsure, when a person enters the Church; another is the monastic tonsure, when a person enters the angelic life; and another is the clerical tonsure, when a man enters the ranks of the clergy. The clerical tonsure is only performed once, as part of the ordination (cheirothesia) of a reader, shortly before the ordination prayer. Once a man has been tonsured and admitted to the ranks of the clergy, this is not repeated for any subsequent ordinations to other orders because he is already clergy.
2.) Must subdeacons be celibate?
If they are unmarried, yes, they must be celibate. If they are married, then they and their wives are like any other Orthodox husband and wife. Both married and unmarried men may be ordained as subdeacons - just like any other order (except the episcopate) - but an unmarried man may not marry after his subdiaconal ordination. Canon 26 of the Holy Apostles says that, of the clergy, only Readers and Chanters may marry. One problem dealt with by the 6th Ecumenical Council was that, through ignorance, there was widespread disobedience among the clergy where marriage was concerned. The fathers of the council in canon 3 decided to deal leniently with all who had unwittingly flouted the canons up until a certain date because they acted out of genuine ignorance and did not wilfully disobey. However, in canon 6, they made it clear that any cleric in the rank of subdeacon or above who transgressed from that point forward is to be deposed. That is still the rule as observed today.
Some bishops extend economia in certain circumstances but this should be done only when pastoral necessity absolutely dictates and it must be done circumspectly. A bishop may think that he is helping his subdeacon by allowing him to marry, but if work, health, or family circumstances mean that this subdeacon ever has to move away and transfer to another bishop, he may potentially find that his initial bishop's "leniency" means that other bishops may not accept him in orders.
3.) Is anyone here a subdeacon?
4.) What is required of the tonsured readers/subdeacons? Must they perform special services ie Reading of the Psalms/ Paraklesis/ Akathists?
A Reader reads. He is responsible for reading the Hours and those portions of other services designated to be done by a reader. With the choir, (or alone if there is no choir), he is to sing the various hymns in the various tones clearly and competently for the glory of God and the edification of the people. He should know the composition and structure of the services and be able to put them together according to the rules to order the services. In places (most parishes) which do not have two choirs to be able to do the parts of the services antiphonally in the traditional way, the reader is often the one who alternates with the choir, such as at the verses and refrains of the festal antiphons, the troparia at the Beatitudes, and so forth. He also reads the verses of the prokimena and alleluias in alternation with the choir, and may be responsible for the Apostle readings, in which case he should know the appropriate Apostle chant method used in his church, (there are many, some beautiful and some not), and be able to execute it properly so as to proclaim the scripture reading to the people as clearly as possible.
In the absence of any more senior clergy, a reader may perform services in their "reader" form, that is, without the portions which require a priest or the blesing of a priest. The exception is that the Gospel may be given but in a spoken manner (such as when a layman reads an English translation at a Slavonic Liturgy) and not the liturgical proclamation which is chanted.
A subdeacon is the servant to the bishop and his duties are described here