The Hierarchical Orders of the
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

Resources to Promote Knowledge of the Priestly Orders
Soorp Stepanos:  First Deacon & Martyr
Armenian Icon of Holy Ordination
1.  ON THE HIERARCHICAL (PRIESTLY) ORDERS OF THE CHURCH:

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

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

-  
On the Order of Sub-Deacon in the Armenian Church Tradition by Rev. Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
-  
On the Order of Sub-Deacon in the Byzantine Church Tradtion - adapted from Rev. Protodeacon B. David Kennedy
-  
On the Order of Sub-Deacon in the Latin Church Tradition  -from the Catholic Encyclopedia
-  
On the Order of Sub-Deacons -from Wikipedia

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

-  
On Women's Ordination by Fr. Alexander Schmemann
-  
On the Order of Deaconess in the Armenian Church by Rev. Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
THE CHURCH'S DEFINITION OF CLERGY:  
"Canon 323.1 of the
Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches affirms that 'clerics, who are also called sacred ministers, are Christian faithful who, chosen by the
competent ecclesiastical authority, are deputed through a gift of the Holy Spirit received in sacred ordination to be ministers of the Church participating in the
mission and power of Christ, the Pastor.'  Sacred ministers have a special link with the liturgy, because many of their functions are carried out in the liturgy,
because they perform a function in it that is distinguished from the other faithful, and because of their frequent contact with it."
-See the landmark document:  
Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. #70  

THE MAJOR & MINOR ORDERS:  
Church documents state:  "In virtue of sacred ordination clerics are distinguished as bishops, presbyters and deacons" -Canon 325.  "The minor Orders are
inserted in the ecclesiastical Hierarchy according to the level of each one.  Whoever has received these orders therefore, is no longer a lay person, but becomes a
member of what the liturgical books of most Eastern Churches call the
Clergy or Sacred Orders." -Instruction, #73  Therefore, anyone who is ordained partakes of
Holy Orders and is part of the Church's hierarchy and clergy.  Each clerical rank is traditionally considered as a participation in one of the degrees of the Holy
Priesthood of Jesus Christ -according to the office to which a man is ordained.

    "The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches explains that the clergy, joined among themselves by hierarchical communion and constituted in various
    degrees of the Order by their sacred ordination, participate in diverse ways in the one divinely instituted ecclesiastical ministry." -Instruction, #72

THE TRADITIONAL 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   

    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.

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, #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).  This practice
resulted from extreme cases of clergy shortages in the Church (e.g., from the Genocide) and is discouraged now by most Church leaders.  Similarly there are now
lay-readers, lay-cantors and lay-acolytes but the Church gives preference to those who are ordained to fulfill these ministries (see "Vatican Document" above).
When used in reference to one who is actually ordained, the term "lay-deacon" is erroneous and even oxymoronic.  It is used by those who apparently suffer from
a case of "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 instead is governed by the canons pertaining to the clergy.  
The Church's canonical legislation, both ancient and contemporary, makes this abundantly clear.

THUS ST. DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE WRITES ON THE SACRED HIERARCHY OR PRIESTLY RANKS OF THE CLERGY:  
"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" (
The Ministry of the Church, Allen, 122).
2.  ON EASTERN CANONICAL TRADITION:

-  On Eastern Canonical Tradition by Rev. Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian
-  
Modern Canonical Questions in Orthodoxy by Rev. Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian
-  
The Apostolic Canons:  An Authoritative Collection of Canons from the Early Church
-  
Ancient Church Canons of the Church and other Authoritative & Historic Councils  
-  
Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches:  The Modern, Unified and Codified Collection
of Canons Authoritative for Eastern Catholics.
-  
Canons on Clerics:  From the above Code of Canons, for members of the Clergy
-  
Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern
Churches:  The above referenced authoritative explanation of the Eastern Code of Canons.

3.  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 Rev. Sub-Dn. Der-Ghazarian
--  
The Seven Canonical Hours of the Armenian Church by Rev. 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 Illuminator Institute
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.