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Friday, June 8, 2007
Minor Orders

One thing that I find extremely appealing concerning seminary formation is the minor and major orders. Unfortunately, except in indult societies and traditional orders, seminary formation no longer includes any of the minor orders and the major orders are reduced to just deacon and priest.

 I find the old practice of slowly growing in rank in the Church extremely spiritually edifying. I feel that as the seminarian obtains more rights and powers in the Church, he will become more prepared for ordination as a priest of Jesus Christ.

The New Liturgical Movement has a post on its blog with photos of a minor ordination: A view into the Life of the Institute of the Good Shepherd and a commentary on Minor Orders.

Q. 981. What are the grades by which one ascends to the priesthood?
A. The grades by which one ascends to the priesthood are:

1. Tonsure, or the clipping of the hair by the bishop, by which the candidate for priesthood dedicates himself to the service of the altar;
2. The four minor orders, Porter, Reader, Exorcist, and Acolyte, by which he is permitted to perform certain duties that laymen should not perform;
3. Sub-deaconship, by which he takes upon himself the obligation of leading a life of perpetual chastity and of saying daily the divine office;
4. Deaconship, by which be receives power to preach, baptize, and give Holy Communion.

Baltimore Catechism No. 3
Minor Orders Explained:

Porter: In the early Church, the porter was charged with ringing the bells for Mass and for the offices, opening the church and the sacristy, holding the book in front of the preacher and keeping troublesome persons out of the church. Spiritually, this symbolizes closing oneself to the devil and opening oneself to God by ones words and examples, our souls being temples of the Holy Ghost. In giving this order, the bishop has the candidate touch the keys, saying: “Comport yourself as if you were to render account unto God, of all that you close with these keys.”

Lector: Those ordained lectors have the privilege to read Lessons and Prophesies during the liturgy. The Bishop calls them to “Apply yourselves to reading the word of God in a clear and distinct manner to instruct and edify the faithful."

Exorcist: The bishop has the candidates touch the ritual, containing the rite of exorcism. He instructs them, saying “As you drive forth the devil from the bodies of your brothers, be sure to reject from your spirit and body all impurity and iniquity, so as not to be slaves of him from whom you deliver others.” However today, exorcists do not have the faculties to exorcise, that being left to priests with permission of the diocesan bishop.

Acolyte: The acolyte carries candles during ecclesiastical functions and presents wine and water at Mass. The bishop cites the Gospel according to St. Mark, saying “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father that is in heaven.”


del_button June 8, 2007 at 5:29 PM
Mac McLernon said...

Bet you're glad they've dropped the tonsure though!!

del_button June 8, 2007 at 6:31 PM
Diane said...

I don't know about that (tonsure). It was done to remind the young men to renounce concern about worldly fashion.

Perhaps it would be good to bring back.

del_button June 8, 2007 at 6:57 PM
Seminarian Matthew said...

I think the tonsure was one of the best parts :)

del_button June 8, 2007 at 9:24 PM
AquinaSavio: said...

This is one of the reasons why I'm interested in the ICRSS. :)

del_button June 8, 2007 at 10:10 PM
Seminarian Matthew said...

The minor orders are one reason that I have (and do still need to) discern entering an indult society like the FSSP.

del_button June 9, 2007 at 1:02 AM
Anonymous said...

The minor orders are something I missed going away; a tad like the reform of the Breviary. Though the Breviary as it was was hard!

Anyway, question for you to maybe cover in a post(?): the discernment process is carried out within a diocese, and one gets accepted by a diocese, but how would one get accepted by an indult society like FSSP. I couldn't figure out the process, because FSSP don't always have parishes.

del_button June 9, 2007 at 2:05 PM
Anonymous said...

Many religious orders keep the minor orders, including the CSB's and OSFS's.

del_button November 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM
Anonymous said...

I am a total supporter of restoring Tonsure, the Minor Orders, and the Sub-diaconate. Ministeria quaedam was never implemented as it was written, except for the supression of Tonsure, Minor Orders, and the Sub-deacons. Very few Dioceses use lay Instituted Lectors or lay Instituted Acolytes, and I think only in Greece are the Instituted Acolytes referred to as Sub-deacons, and that has, I believe, something to do with dealings with the Eastern Orthodox. Pope Benedict XVI, please eliminate Ministeria quaedam and restore Tonsure, the Minor Orders, and the Sub-diaconate.

del_button June 30, 2012 at 2:21 PM
Anonymous said...

FYI: Most of the Independent Sacramental jurisdictions have maintained Minor Orders.

del_button June 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM
Anonymous said...

FYI: Most of the Independent Sacramental jurisdictions have maintained Minor Orders.

del_button March 11, 2013 at 6:39 AM
Chris Soderstrom said...

I have been an alter server in the Roman Catholic Church for nearly since I was 8 or 9, i am now 36, I would be extremly interested in being ordained an Acolyte if the monor orders were restored. At some point I would like to become a decon but not until my girlfiend and I get married. If after we are married if she were to pass before me I would then want to become a priest. For now I guess I will continue as an alter server but I feel called to be more for Christ but I am not ready to become a decon.

del_button July 15, 2013 at 8:33 AM
Dave Welf Masters said...

What about the restoration of minor orders also in universities? It wouldn't be' a restauration of the pre-conciliar situation but a restauration of the figure of the cleric/clerk, a scholar who underlines particularly his vocation (the research of the Truth) without being a priest and with the possibility of marriage. As in the Middle Age, during the Christian Civilization, the Christendom.

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