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

    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.


MINOR ORDERS:  1) Doorkeeper*, 2) Reader / Cantor, 3) Exorcist*, 4) Acolyte*, 5) Sub-Deacon
*orders no longer active in the Eastern Orthodox Church
MAJOR ORDERS:  6) Deacon, 7) Presbyter, 8) Bishop, and 9) Patriarch


APOSTOLIC CANONS, Canon LXIX:  "If any bishop, presbyter, deacon, sub-deacon, reader, or chanter does not fast during the Forty Days of Pascha, or on Wednesday or
Friday, let him be defrocked except if he were prevented on account of bodily illness, but if a layman let him be excommunicated."

COUNCIL OF LAODICEA, Canon XXIV:  "No one of the priesthood, from presbyters to deacons, and so on in the ecclesiastical order to subdeacons, readers, singers, exorcists,
door-keepers, or any of the class of the Ascetics, ought to enter a tavern."

SIXTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Canon VI:  "Since it is declared in the apostolic canons that of those who are advanced to the clergy unmarried, only readers 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..."

SIXTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Canon XXVII:  None of those who are in the catalogue of the clergy shall wear clothes unsuited to them, either while still living in town or
when on a journey: but they shall wear such clothes as are assigned to those who belong to the clergy..."

SEVENTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Canon XVI:  "All buffoonery and decking of the body ill becomes the priestly rank.   Therefore those bishop and clerics who array
themselves in gay and showy clothing ought to correct themselves, and if they do not amend they ought to be subjected to punishment..."

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 (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 the Church's worship, but the Church gives preference to those who are ordained for these ministries.

The title "Lay-deacon" when used for someone who is ordained, is erroneous and oxymoronic.  It is used by those with apparent canonical ignorance (or amnesia)
or who are possibly confused by an extreme form of clericalism which views only presbyters and celibates as clergy.   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 Church's canons for the clergy.  The Church's historic
canonical tradition makes this abundantly clear.


-  On the Episcopal Order of Bishop  
Introduction to the Priesthood in the Eastern Church   
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 & Women's Ordination by Fr. Shnork Souin

-  The Deacon in Today's World by Archbishop Joseph Tawil
The Diaconate:  Rediscovery of an Historical and Biblical Definition by Fr. Shnork Souin
On the Clerical Dress of Deacons and Minor Clergy by Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
The Byzantine Deacon by Rev. Protodeacon B. David Kennedy

The Major Significance of the Minor Orders by Archpriest Lawrence Farley
On the Order of Sub-Deacon in the Armenian Church Tradition by Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
On the Order of Sub-Deacon in the Byzantine Church Tradtion - adapted from 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 Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
A Basic Catechism for Acolytes of the Armenian Church by Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
The Four Minor Orders in the Armenian Church -Excerpts from 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
Labelling the Debate (on Women's Ordination) by Fr. Lawrenece Farley
On the Order of Deaconess in the Armenian Church by Sub-Dn. Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian
A Public Statement on Orthodox Deaconesses by Concerned Clergy and Laity  


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


-  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: 2001-2019, Lazarus Der-Ghazarian,, 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).
This represents how the
Orthodox Church's Canonical
Tradition guides her 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).