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Can subdeacons marry?


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#1 Guest_Augustine Martin

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 03:19 AM

Can subdeacons marry? It seems that sometimes they can, and sometimes they can't. What are the rules and patterns for this? What about the canons?

#2 Ilya Zhitomirskiy

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 04:48 PM

Technically, they may not. Multiple councils have canons that say that , but I cannot remember the exact names or numbers. The Russian church is usually the most demanding when it comes to inspecting qualifications, but it depends on how your bishop enforces the rules. In addition, there are people who have been blessed to act like subdeacons, but who have not been properly ordained. These people are usually those who marry, but I would recommend marrying either before or after reader, because that is the last ecclesiastical rank whose bearer is allowed to marry.

#3 Olga

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 11:00 PM

These people are usually those who marry, but I would recommend marrying either before or after reader, because that is the last ecclesiastical rank whose bearer is allowed to marry.


As I understand it, men called to clerical ranks of subdeacon, deacon and priest must either be married before their ordination, or, if intending to marry, their ordination is delayed until after marriage. Of course, as with all clergy, remaining single and celibate, and entering monastic rank, is also an option.

#4 Father Stephanos

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:38 AM

As Ilya and Olga have stated and as stated in the Canon 6 of the Holy 6th Synod of the Ecumene and the Canon 26 of the Canons of the Holy Apostles, Subdeacons are not allowed to marry. Subdeacons who dare to marry after their ordination/tonsuring as Subdeacons are to be deposed/removed from office.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#5 Dcn Alexander Haig

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 08:20 PM

While Fr Stephanos is right that it is prohibited by a canon of an Ecumenical council, there is a common practice in certain jurisdictions of allowing Sub-deacons to marry: it seems that some synods are more willing to show economia in this situation than others.

In Xp
Alexander

#6 Father Stephanos

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 10:31 PM

While Fr Stephanos is right that it is prohibited by a canon of an Ecumenical council, there is a common practice in certain jurisdictions of allowing Sub-deacons to marry: it seems that some synods are more willing to show economia in this situation than others.


What was stated in post #4 was

. . . as stated in the Canon 6 of the Holy 6th Synod of the Ecumene . . .


There is a great difference between a synod and a council.

The reasons why economia cannot properly be used to allow subdeacons to marry is similar to why economia cannot properly be used to allow priests, deacons, and deaconesses to marry, etc.

Just because many decades pass before issues are dealt or re-dealt with does not mean that they will not be dealt with by our Holy Church. Remember, it took so many decades before iconoclasm was dealt with and rooted out of our Holy Church.

Serious problems can occur for a subdeacon, who marries against what has been stipulated in our Holy Canons, as well as for bishops and local synods that try to use economia in this and like situations. It is a precarious position to be in. At any time, even after all involved have fallen asleep, their actions can be condemned and the people involved excommunicated by any later Holy Synod of the Ecumene, or other Holy Synods with proper jurisdiction, in a similar way as Origen and his writings were dealt with after his death.

It is also similar to when the Holy Greatmartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Kosmas Aitolos defrocked priests, even if they were devout, just because they were ordained at too young an age according to our Holy Canons.

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#7 Guest_Augustine Martin

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 01:04 PM

That was impious of Holy Kosmas Aitolos. Some canons have a deeper meaning (no marriage after ordination) and some are temporal disciplines (can only be ordained to the presbytery after age 30). According to the 7th ecumenical council, one must have the entire Psalter memorized to become a deacon. How many non-monastic Orthodox have you ever met that have met that requirement? Perhaps we should defrock the entire church.

#8 Father Stephanos

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 02:51 PM

. . . According to the 7th ecumenical council, one must have the entire Psalter memorized to become a deacon. How many non-monastic Orthodox have you ever met that have met that requirement? Perhaps we should defrock the entire church.


I believe that according to Canon 2 of the Holy 7th Ecumenical Synod that bishops, not deacons, are supposed to know the Psalter in order.

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#9 Michael Astley

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 01:21 PM

While Fr Stephanos is right that it is prohibited by a canon of an Ecumenical council, there is a common practice in certain jurisdictions of allowing Sub-deacons to marry: it seems that some synods are more willing to show economia in this situation than others.


This might be less problematic in Orthodox countries but here in the west, the situation is quite different. We have overlapping territories, often with some considerable distance between any two parishes or missions of the same jurisdiction. Many parishes are missions that are not firmly established yet, often without their own buildings or with no provision for successors once the current clergy are no longer on this earth.

I'm sure we can all think of situations where such parishes and missions have closed down because the priest has died, the mission has lost use of its building, or any of a number of reasons, or indeed we may know of parishes that have gone into schism, and many of the people have gone to the next nearest parish, which may be under a different jurisdiction. A bishop or synod may be willing to apply economy and let their subdeacons marry after ordination but it would be unwise for such a subdeacon to assume that he will always be in that jurisdiction or under that bishop, and that all bishops will accept his situation. I think it was Father David Moser who, in a previous discussion about this subject, made reference to a subdeacon who learnt this the hard way when he transferred to another jurisdiction.

I remember a priest of the Greek archdiocese telling me, when I was a reader, that I would be able to marry as a subdeacon so I needn't worry about the next step. I hadn't planned to marry anyway but I pointed out the mistake, and he was adamant that there was absolutely nothing to prevent a subdeacon from marrying. I can see how an obedient and unsuspecting man could easily fall victim to such advice and, through no fault of his own, find himself in a difficult position later on in life.

Personally, I don't have any particularly strong feeling about subdiaconal marriage as an issue in isolation. However, I do think that exercising a little prudence might be a good idea. Perhaps this might be a matter for the Pan-Orthodox assemblies.

M

#10 Father David Moser

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 02:31 PM

I think it was Father David Moser who, in a previous discussion about this subject, made reference to a subdeacon who learnt this the hard way when he transferred to another jurisdiction.


Sort of. I know a bishop who, as young man attended a seminary, of a related but different jurisdiction. While there as a seminarian he was tonsured a reader and later ordained as a subdeacon (in that jurisdiction subdeacons were allowed to marry after ordination). When he graduated and returned to his home parish and began to consider marriage and ordination, he was quickly informed that due to his ignorance of the tradition that subdeacons could not marry he would be given a choice. He would be permitted to marry but remain in the rank of subdeacon permanently - or he could pursue ordination and remain unmarried. He chose to enter monastic life and was ordained to the priesthood and much later was consecrated as a bishop. While this was not necessarily his original plan in attending seminary (I honestly don't know) - the circumstances that led to his episcopal consecration were most certainly in retrospect a God given blessing to the Church.

Fr David Moser

#11 John Konstantin

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 09:53 AM

I often wonder about this question relating to the marriage of subdeacons. There is such a huge difference in one's duties in the higher orders, both in the weight of one's responsibilities, the respect that is accorded one, the years of theological formation and often higher academic training and for some full time duties.

The subdeacon might not necessarily have any duties other than that of a senior server, only on a Sunday for many, no formal theological education and may be fully ensconced in a non-clerical career path. To put upon him the same requirements as that of the higher clergy in the modern setting may seem a little out of kilter.

That said, the Canons are correct in this manner but it begs the question of whether subdeacons carried a little more weight in the days in which the Canons were framed. If this Canon was strictly adhered to by the whole Church then possibly the only fall out would be that very few young men (unless they were not the marrying kind) would bother to take up this Order. They would remain senior servers and un-ordained and there is nothing wrong, it would seem, in that.

This would mean that the danger in reality is that the only ones taking up the challenge would be either career clerics, the confirmed bachelor or the previously married. No?

#12 Father Stephanos

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 12:39 PM

I am of the opinion that the Subdeacons carried a lot more weight than they do today, especially considering the Divine Liturgy was usually celebrated much more frequently than it is today. In addition, perhaps presently we do not utilize Subdeacons as appropriately as we should.

This Order is extremely important. Among the duties of the Subdeacon is to wash the hands of the Bishop and/or Priest and to properly dispose of that water, which may have the precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in it if there were any unseen tiny pearls/particles from Holy Communion on his hands; the cleaning and care of the Holy Sanctuary; assisting the Bishop; serving and assisting as needed; et cetera.

Currently, we often have a Reader or someone else perform these duties, so perhaps for various reasons the respect that might be shown to Subdeacons often is not. I do not believe that Subdeacons had to have a formal theological education, but they were supposed to be devout Orthodox Christians and at least twenty years old, which is nineteen of our years nowadays since when our Holy Canons were written a person was one year old when they were born.

Subdeacons are not permitted to marry for at least one reason that Deacons and Priests are not allowed to marry, which is that a certain immaturity can be shown by some men when going through a courtship process; and this immaturity, because of their offices and duties, should not to be found among Subdeacons, Deacons, and Priests. In addition, just as Priests and Deacons are called by God and His Holy Church to serve, so are Subdeacons.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,

+ Father Stephanos



#13 Dcn Alexander Haig

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 09:11 PM

Subdeacons are not permitted to marry for at least one reason that Deacons and Priests are not allowed to marry, which is that a certain immaturity can be shown by some men when going through a courtship process; and this immaturity, because of their offices and duties, should not to be found among Subdeacons, Deacons, and Priests. In addition, just as Priests and Deacons are called by God and His Holy Church to serve, so are Subdeacons.


Why is this required for Subdeacons but not for Readers?

#14 John Konstantin

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 09:28 PM

Good question. It could be argued by some that the duties of a throughly trained (and usually self trained in some parishes) Reader are much more onerous than subdiaconal duties, notwithstanding the Hierarchical Liturgy. I appreciate the roles are complimentary but having done both I know the one that required more preparation and pre-liturgical jitters. Readers have to deal with liturgical variables on a weekly basis. The subdeacon's liturgical role can be exactly the same every week apart from high feasts and holidays.

#15 Father Stephanos

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 03:03 AM

Why is this required for Subdeacons but not for Readers?


My understanding is that Subdeacons are ordained/tonsured to serve primarily inside the Holy Sanctuary; whereas Readers are tonsured to read outside the Holy Sanctuary.

Perhaps because nowadays we have Readers and others serving the duties and responsibilities of Subdeacons, things can become a bit unclear or confusing as to why Subdeacons are not allowed to marry.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#16 John Konstantin

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 09:19 AM

Good point Father Stephanos. Therefore there is a possible connection between the Holy Altar and with clerical celibacy for the unmarried. Although I would make the point also that both Readers and Subdeacons are ordained outside the Altar and not during the Holy Liturgy.




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