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Readers and subdeacons


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#1 John Konstantin

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 10:06 PM

I know that Readers and Sub-deacons are ordained and that they are considered in minor orders as opposed to the three higher orders and are not, therefore, considered clergymen per se.

Are they, therefore, also not lay persons anymore?

In Christ,

JK

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 10:57 PM

Technically readers and sub-deacons are not ordained, but are tonsured.

Fr David Moser

#3 John Konstantin

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 12:02 AM

Father Bless,

So the entry in Wikipedia is wrong. " It is through ordination - not the tonsure - that one is made a reader or subdeacon; this is highlighted by the fact that the tonsure is performed only once and is not repeated before the ordination of a subdeacon. The confusion has arisen by the common reference to a man being "tonsured a reader" which, while widespread, is not technically correct."

Also the service itself admits a reader to the the first order of priesthood. My question remains. Lay or other. Thank you.

#4 Dcn Alexander Haig

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 06:48 AM

From a certain perspective, deacons too are considered laity in that they do not have a special funeral service (i.e. it's the same as for the laity whereas priests have a special service).

Further, despite modern usage, strictly speaking all are laity: the ordained and unordained alike.

In Xp

Alex

#5 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 11:22 AM

Agreed, all are ALL member of the LAOS, the worshipping PEOPLE of God. The bishop is part of the "laity". It is not like military/civilian. All the members of the church are the laity, including the ordained members. We just have an unfortunate tendency to separate and segregate these days.

#6 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 02:36 PM

Precisely. When one is made a Reader, he does not cease to be a layman. He is now both a layman, and a Reader. When one is made a Subdeacon, he similarly does not cease to be a Reader. He is a layman, a Reader and a Subdeacon.

That follows all the way through to Bishop, in that a Bishop is: a layman, a Reader, a Subdeacon, a Deacon, a Priest and a Bishop, all in one.

#7 John Konstantin

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 02:44 PM

This is interesting. So the 'clerical' state is in a sense meaningless? We are all lay folk with different jobs/gifts to share?

#8 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 03:05 PM

Not at all. It's just that the "either/or" concept is inaccurate.

#9 John Konstantin

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 03:17 PM

Thank you. Then may I rephrase my question. Are Readers and Subdeacons clerics?

#10 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 03:24 PM

In short, yes.

#11 Paul Cowan

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 07:34 PM

Don't expect to be able to get a Cleric parking decal for your window to visit the local hospital though for the best parking spots.

#12 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 08:09 PM

"Minor orders" are still ranks of clerical orders. At the tonsure of a reader, the comment is made about this being the first step towards the priesthood. However, being "minor", in practice they tend to be more "honorary" in nature, perhaps depending on the jurisdiction. Once upon a time the Church also tonsured doorkeepers, exorcists, and acolytes. Even today in some practices a reader will first be blessed as a taper-bearer during tonsure.

Herman the non-tonsured cantor

#13 John Konstantin

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 08:36 PM

Thanks for all the above. Very helpful. It was my understanding that the 'tonsuring' is a one off admission to the clerical state and that one then is ordained reader. No subsequent tonsuring happens at any further ordinations as one cannot be admitted to the clerical state twice. Hence it is wrong to speak about someone being tonsured as a subdeacon for example.

In the West there is also tonsuring service prior to the various minor orders, largely obsolete now other than in those seminaries where the Extraordinary Form is used.

#14 John Konstantin

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 08:51 PM

Don't expect to be able to get a Cleric parking decal for your window to visit the local hospital though for the best parking spots.


I have no intention just yet of using one of those. The last time I had to use one of those was in Northern Ireland. My Priest On Duty decal was most useful in avoiding my car and myself being blown up on occasion.

#15 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:23 PM

I believe we are all tonsured at baptism. There is also a tonsuring into monasticism (I think?)

#16 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:27 PM

There is also a tonsuring into monasticism


Yup. Three times. Obviously one is tonsured on entrance to both the Great and Little Schemas, but one is also tonsured when made Rassophore, although that particular rite is not referred to as a tonsuring.

#17 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 02:16 PM

You can also look to the canons for an answer. While the minor orders are not the same as those of a deacon, priest, or bishop, there are several canons that set a reader and subdeacon apart from the general laity. Also, on the ordination issue, the canons might help - Council of Trullo, Canon XV - "A subdeacon is not to be ordained under twenty years of age. And if any one in any grade of the priesthood shall have been ordained contrary to the prescribed time let him be deposed."

On the separation from the laity - Council of Trullo, Canon VI "Since it is declared in the apostolic canons that of those who are advanced to the clergy unmarried, only lectors and cantors are able to marry; we also, maintaining this, determine that henceforth it is in nowise lawful for any subdeacon, deacon or presbyter after his ordination to contract matrimony but if he shall have dared to do so, let him be deposed. And if any of those who enter the clergy, wishes to be joined to a wife in lawful marriage before he is ordained subdeacon, deacon, or presbyter, let it be done."

Council at Carthage, Canon XXV - "Aurelius, the bishop, said: We add, most dear brethren, moreover, since we have heard of the incontinency of certain clerics, even of readers, towards their wives, it seemed good that what had been enacted in divers councils should be confirmed, to wit, that subdeacons who wait upon the holy mysteries, and deacons, and presbyters, as well as bishops according to former statutes should contain from their wives, so that they should be as though they had them not and unless they so act, let them be removed from office. But the rest of the clergy are not to be compelled to this, unless they be of mature age. And by the whole council it was said: What your holiness has said is just, holy, and pleasing to God, and we confirm it."

Sbdn. Anthony

#18 Michael Astley

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 03:47 PM

Thanks for all the above. Very helpful. It was my understanding that the 'tonsuring' is a one off admission to the clerical state and that one then is ordained reader. No subsequent tonsuring happens at any further ordinations as one cannot be admitted to the clerical state twice. Hence it is wrong to speak about someone being tonsured as a subdeacon for example.


This is quite correct.

There are three types of tonsure, as Herman has said: the baptismal tonsure, which we all undergo; the monastic tonsure, which Fr Cyprian has explained; and the clerical tonsure, by which a man is admitted to the ranks of the clergy.

The clerical tonsure is only ever performed once, immediately prior to the vesting and prayer of ordination at the setting apart of a reader. For this reason, in casual speech it is common to hear of somebody being "tonsured a reader" but this is just shorthand. It is not the tonsuring that makes him a reader but rather the act of the bishop setting him apart to that particular order through the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination. As you rightly point out, the clerical tonsure is not repeated for admission to any subsequent orders, including the subdiaconate, for the logical reason that you have given: once a man is admitted to the clerical state, it would make no sense for this to be done again simply because he is set apart to a different order within that clerical state.

M

#19 Ryan

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 04:09 PM

You can also look to the canons for an answer. While the minor orders are not the same as those of a deacon, priest, or bishop, there are several canons that set a reader and subdeacon apart from the general laity. Also, on the ordination issue, the canons might help - Council of Trullo, Canon XV - "A subdeacon is not to be ordained under twenty years of age. And if any one in any grade of the priesthood shall have been ordained contrary to the prescribed time let him be deposed."


There is a boy who occasionally appears at my parish, who was ordained a subdeacon in Bulgaria. The explanation that was given, was that he is typically an altarboy in the States, and a very zealous one, but, since Bulgaria does not typically have altarboys, the bishop decided to ordain him subdeacon. He appears in full vestments- it really is a sight to behold. He cannot be older than 10 years. I hope this won't present problems for him later in life if he chooses to marry.

#20 Father David Moser

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 06:02 PM

He cannot be older than 10 years. I hope this won't present problems for him later in life if he chooses to marry.


Depends on the national tradition. In the Russian tradition, subdeacons are not allowed to marry, however in the Greek/Arabic tradition that seems to be permitted. I don't know what they do in the Bulgarian Church. I know of one person who was made a subdeacon while in seminary before marriage in one jurisdiction where it did not present an obstacle to marriage. After seminary graduation, he then returned to the Russian Church where it was an issue. He was offered a choice by the Synod - either take monastic tonsure and proceed in the clerical ranks or marry and remain a subdeacon with no possibility of advancement. (He chose to become a monk and was subsequently ordained.)

Fr David Moser




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