The Hierarchical Orders
of the Orthodox One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

Resources to Promote Knowledge of the Priestly Ranks
Soorp Stepanos:  First Deacon & Martyr
Armenian Icon of Holy Ordination
I.  THE ANCIENT CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRIESTHOOD & CLERGY:

THE CHURCH'S DEFINITION OF CLERGY:  

    The traditional collection of Eastern Canons known as The Rudder of the Catholic Orthodox Church, comments on Canon 2 of the Apostolic Canons:
    "Clergymen, ordinarily and generally, are those who have been admitted to a priestly and ecclesiastical office by the laying on of hands of a bishop in any
    ecclesiastical rank from bishop on down to reader and cantor..."  It also adds, "Although Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons and Sub-Deacons are properly
    spoken of as being ordained, Readers and Cantors are said to be sealed." -Rudder, pg. 4.

Anyone who is ordained is a partaker of Holy Orders and is part of the Church's hierarchy and clergy.  Each clerical rank is a participation in one of the ranks of the
Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ -according to the office to which each man is ordained.

THE MAJOR & MINOR PRIESTLY ORDERS (CLERICAL RANKS) OF THE CHURCH'S HIERARCHY:    

MINOR ORDERS:  1) Doorkeeper, 2) Reader / Cantor, 3) Exorcist, 4) Acolyte, 5) Sub-Deacon
MAJOR ORDERS:  6) Deacon, 7) Presbyter, 8) Bishop, and 9) Patriarch / Pope

VATICAN DOCUMENT CALLS FOR A REAL AND COHERENT PRACTICE OF THE MINOR ORDERS:  
"The minor Orders and the diaconate are not mere formalities in preparation for presbyteral ordination.  They provide a specific service in the Church, and as such
are to be effectively exercised in a definitive way by those who do not intend to enter the presbyterate, and in a sufficiently ample way by those who are to be
ordained presbyters.  This is especially valid for the diaconate.  In this sense, misgivings should not be had toward conferring minor Orders and even the
diaconate on those who comport themselves well, are suitable and appropriately prepared for the responsibility they assume, and declare themselves available for
the service of the Church, even if they must continue to live with their families and practice their own trades.  Thus, the ministers necessary for a dignified and
fitting celebration of the liturgy are obtained"  -
Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, #75.  

LAY-DEACON:  
Refers to one who is not ordained but serves by
economia in a diaconal capacity (known as a "stole-bearer" in Armenian tradition).  The practice resulted from
extreme cases of clergy shortages in the Church (e.g., from the Genocide) and is discouraged now by most hierarchs.  Similarly the Church now has lay-readers, lay-
cantors and lay-acolytes who play important roles in Church's worship, but the Church gives preference to those who are ordained for these ministries because
they have been ordained to fulfill them.

The title "Lay-deacon" when it is used in reference to one who is actually ordained, is erroneous and even oxymoronic.  It is apparently used by those who either
suffer from "canonical amnesia" or are confused possibly by a rather extreme form of clericalism which views only presbyters and celibates as clerics.   According
to Church canons, once a man is ordained -by that very fact- he is no longer counted among the laity but is instead governed by the canons pertaining to the his
rank among the clergy.  The Church's historic canonical legislation makes this abundantly clear.

II.  ON THE HIERARCHICAL PRIESTLY ORDERS OF THE CHURCH:

-  On the Episcopal Order of Bishop  
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Introduction to the Priesthood in the Eastern Church   
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On Presbyters, the Ministerial Priesthood and the Meaning of the Word Priest   
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On the Eastern Tradition of Married Priests  
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The Iconic Character of the Sacramental Priesthood (& Woman's Ordination) by Fr. Shnork Souin

-  The Deacon in Today's World by Archbishop Joseph Tawil
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The Diaconate:  Rediscovery of an Historical and Biblical Definition by Fr. Shnork Souin
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The Dress and Address of Deacons by Duane L.C.M. Galles
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On the Clerical Dress of Deacons and Minor Clergy by Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
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Clerical Attire, Vesture, Titles, and Precedence For Deacons... According to Byzantine Tradition
by Rev. Protodeacon B. David Kennedy
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Armenian Diaconate -A great website with helpful liturgical information for those studying to be Armenian Deacons.

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The Major Significance of the Minor Orders by Archpriest Lawrence Farley
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On the Order of Sub-Deacon in the Armenian Church Tradition by Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
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On the Order of Sub-Deacon in the Byzantine Church Tradtion - adapted from Protodeacon B. David Kennedy
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On the Order of Sub-Deacon in the Latin Church Tradition  -from the Catholic Encyclopedia
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On the Order of Sub-Deacons -from Wikipedia

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On the Ministry of the Four Minor Orders in the Armenian Church by Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
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A Basic Catechism for Acolytes of the Armenian Church by Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
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The Four Minor Orders in the Armenian Church -Excerpts from Fr. Garabed Kochakian & the Catholic Encyclopedia
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A Guide for Readers in the Orthodox Church -An excellent guide for Readers of the Byzantine Tradition
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On the Order of Reader in the Byzantine Church -from Orthodox Wiki

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On Women's Ordination by Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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On the Order of Deaconess in the Armenian Church by Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian

III.  ON ORTHODOX CANONICAL TRADITION:

-  On Eastern Canonical Tradition by Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian
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Modern Canonical Questions in Orthodoxy by Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian
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The Apostolic Canons:  A Collection of Authoritative Canons from the Early Church
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Ancient Church Canons of the Church and other Authoritative & Historic Councils  

IV.  ON THEOLOGY AND PRAYER:

-  The Antiochian House of Studies St. Stephen's Course in Applied Orthodox Theology:  
A highly respected theological program, recognized by Orthodox and Eastern Catholic hierarchs alike, for those interested in studying Orthodox
theology to become priests, deacons or lay theologians.  It is designed and directed by world-class Orthodox theologians and scholars to be a
"school without walls" for those unable to attend seminary.  It's attended by students from the world-over including America, Greece, Romania,
Egypt, Armenia, Ireland, Sweden, Nigeria, Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

--  
On the Importance of Keeping a Daily Rule of Prayer by Sub-Dn. Der-Ghazarian
--  
The Seven Canonical Hours of the Armenian Church by Sub-Dn. Der-Ghazarian

--  
The Canonical Hours:  Three compact disc amateur recordings of actual Armenian Canonical Hours Services which can be used to assist
with diaconal training.  They are also a joy to listen to and pray with.  Contact Sub-Dn. Lazarus to obtain copies:  CD #1.  The Night &
Morning Hours;   CD #2.  The Sunrise & Evening Hours;  CD #3.  The Peace and Rest Hour Services

Return to the home page of the St. Gregory the Enlightener Institute   

(c) Copyright: 2001-2018, Lazarus Der-Ghazarian, looys.net, All Rights Reserved
The Mystical Icon
of the Holy Church

Here the Church is represented
by a ship which Christ steers
using the Rudder (or Pendalion)
which represents how this traditional
collection of the Church's Canons
guides us through the
trackless sea of life.
There are many other things which rightly keep me in the bosom of the Catholic Church.  The consent of the people
and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by
love, and established by age.  The succession of priests keeps me, from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the
Lord, after His resurrection gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate.
                                                              -St. Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani Called Foundation, 5, AD 397.
"Everyone constituted in the sacred hierarchy, according to his position and the nature of his orders, is initiated into
divine things and divinized, so that he may impart to those who come after him, a share of this divinization which he
has received from God."
                                               -ST. DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE ON THE SACRED PRIESTLY RANKS OF THE CLERGY (Allen, 122).