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Sacrament of Holy Orders
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The Minor OrdersThe Order of Porter
The Order of Reader
The Order of Exorcist
The Order of Acolyte
by A. Biskupek, S.V.D
Mission Press, 1954
Imprimi Potest May 4, 1942 Charles Michel, S.V.D. Provincial
Imprimatur May 4, 1942 + Samuel A. Stritch, D.D.
Archbishop of ChicagoThe worthy conduct of divine worship renders necessary many distinct functions which stand in a more or less intimate relation to the central act of divine worship, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Such functions are, for instance, to take care of the place of worship and of the many things needed for the Holy Sacrifice, to instruct the people and admit them to the divine services, to keep out unworthy persons, to supervise the congregation so that due order and reverence may be observed by all, to serve at Mass, etc. In ancient times, when the faithful formed small minorities in the midst of a pagan population not well disposed toward Christianity, it was of the utmost importance that such offices should be entrusted to thoroughly reliable men. For this reason special orders were introduced by the Church, and men were ordained by a sacred rite for the worthy discharge of these offices. At what time this was done cannot be established with certainty. But we know that Pope Cornelius, in a letter written to Fabian, Bishop of Antioch, about the year 250, mentions that four minor orders as we have them today. He writes that in the Church of Rome were at the time 46 priests, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, 42 acolytes, 52 exorcists, lectors, and porters.
Accordingly, the four minor orders are:
These four orders are called minor orders because of their lesser importance and dignity when compared to major orders; they are not sacraments. According to the present discipline of the Church, only candidates who have the intention of becoming priests are permitted to receive minor orders. However, if in the course of time a minorite changes his mind and decides not to become a priest, he is at liberty to choose another state of life without being under any further obligations in consequence of the orders received.
Minor orders are conferred on Sundays and double feasts; also outside Mass, but always in the morning. Not more than two minor orders may be received on the same day; nor is it allowed that tonsure and a minor order be received by the same candidate on the same day.
The rite of conferring these orders comprises the following features: