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The Offices of Subdeacon & Reader: Ancient Origins, Orthodox Canons, and Modern Practices

Updated: May 6

By Subdeacon Nektarios, M.A.

 

Introduction


Over the last few years I have received numerous inquiries asking me what exactly subdeacons and readers are and where they come from historically speaking. "The term 'minor clergy,' or 'minor orders'" [1] often used to describe them, but mistakenly so, is in actuality a modern terminology and does not appear within the patristic texts or the canons of the Church that concern them. That being said, much interest on the subject of the subdiaconate as well as that of readers is developing. A large portion of the Orthodox Christian world, even among the countries that can be considered traditionally Orthodox, do not have a clear understanding of exactly what subdeacons and readers are, primarily because people (including priests and bishops) have become ahistorical. The tradition of these clerical ranks is not discussed frequently, has largely been abandoned, is infrequently used, or most often has been non-canonically replaced by laymen who have received some "blessing" to dress and function in these ordained ecclesiastical roles, or are altogether dismissed by modernists just as "glorified altar servers."


Subdeacons and readers in the Orthodox Church at the present time are most notably used more frequently and in a more traditional Orthodox manner in the Russian Orthodox Church and other Slavic Churches largely because of the more elaborate liturgical rubrics the Slavs have in comparison to the liturgical rubrics of the traditionally Byzantine Greek Churches. In this article I will examine the historical origins of the orders of subdeacons and readers, their clerical status, their historical function, the Holy Canons concerning these clerical ranks, and the modern practices of how they are used today across the various jurisdictions within the Orthodox Church in the hopes that the men in these clerical ranks will gain a patristic and historical understanding of the office that they hold as clergymen in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Priests & Subdeacons During Paschal Liturgy at Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY. 2023.

Historical Origins of the Offices of Reader and Subdeacon


The first question that needs to be asked is where did these ecclesiastical clerical ranks come from? We know that the order of the subdiaconate and that of the reader has ancient origins within the holy tradition of the Orthodox Church and has been passed down to the Church even today. The clerical offices of the subdeacon and reader are not contained in the epistles of the New Testament text as deacons, presbyters, and bishops are. Nonetheless, the origins of these clerical orders are ancient and have always been a part of the patristic tradition of the Orthodox Church. The earliest reference by name for the subdiaconate goes as far back to A.D. 217 in the patristic writings of Saint Hippolytus of Rome in his work entitled Apostolic Tradition in a text concerning ancient Church orders [2]. However, reference to the order of reader goes back even further, to roughly A.D. 198 and can be seen in the writings of Tertullian before he fell away from the Orthodox Church and into the Montanist heresy [3]. As we can see, these two clerical orders appeared within the tradition of the Orthodox Church in writing only one-hundred and eighty-seven years after Pentecost for the subdiaconate and one-hundred and sixty-five years for that of the readers.

As the patristic texts of the Church show, these ecclesiastical clerical ranks have been in existence for the majority of the life of the Church. What is of interest to us is discussing the origins of these clerical ranks and recognizing that each of these ranks were used across the empire. There is no written record of any official genesis or organization of these ecclesiastical ranks, as there was with the bishops, presbyters and deacons in the New Testament text, but as we can see by their earliest introduction in A.D. 198, it is more likely than not that these orders existed even prior to them appearing within the historical written record. This implies "that any such organisation must have taken place at least a generation, if not more, before the mention of the orders. Any novelties would surely have roused opposition or, at least, mention, especially in matters such as the priesthood and service in the temples/churches of tradition orientated Christians" [4]. This means that these orders in all probability could have existed within the apostolic period [A.D. 33 - A.D. 100].


This, however, is not the only place the orders appear in the patristic writings of the Church Fathers. They also appear in subsequent centuries and the writings of both the Eastern and Western Church. The writings of the later third century are two of the earliest references of the orders and offer us more about them contextually. Beginning with the letters of Saint Cyprian of Carthage we can begin to see why these orders came into existence at all. In Epistle XXIII of Saint Cyprian, he informs the clergy there that he has ordained two men, Saturus as Reader, and Optatus as Subdeacon. In his letter to the clergy in Rome, Saint Cyprian writes:

Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, his brethren, greeting. That nothing may be unknown to your consciousness, beloved brethren, of what was written to me and what I replied, I have sent you a copy of each letter, and I believe that my rejoinder will not displease you. But I ought to acquaint you in my letter concerning this, that for a very urgent reason I have sent a letter to the clergy who abide in the city. And since it behooved me to write by clergy, while I know that very many of ours are absent, and the few that are there are hardly sufficient for the ministry of the daily duty, it was necessary to appoint [ἀπόκειμαι] some new ones, who might be sent. Know, then, that I have made Saturus a reader, and Optatus, the confessor, a sub-deacon; whom already, by the general advice, we had made next to the clergy, in having entrusted to Saturus on Easter-day, once and again, the reading; and when with the teacher-presbyters we were carefully trying readers—in appointing Optatus from among the readers to be a teacher of the hearers;—examining, first of all, whether all things were found fitting in them, which ought to be found in such as were in preparation for the clerical office. Nothing new, therefore, has been done by me in your absence; but what, on the general advice of all of us had been begun, has, upon urgent necessity, been accomplished. I bid you, beloved brethren, ever heartily farewell; and remember me. Fare ye well [5].


From this letter we can determine that the reasons these orders were brought into existence were to help the the community with the day-to-day functions of the Church as Saint Cyprian describes, which would include service within the liturgical context of the Church and as catechists among the catechumens. If we recall in the Book of Acts, the deacons were also set apart and ordained for ministry in the daily duties of the Church. The Book of Acts recounts the institution of this apostolic diaconate saying:

Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them [6].


Within a liturgical context we can find the reference to both the subdeacons and readers of the ancient liturgy of Saint Mark which was the primary liturgy of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church in Africa. In this liturgy the prayers of the priest in multiple places reference both subdeacons and readers saying,

"Preserve them for us through many years in peace, while they according to Thy holy and blessed will fulfil the sacred priesthood committed to their care, and dispense aright the word of truth; with all the orthodox bishops, elders, deacons, sub-deacons, readers, singers, and laity, with the entire body of the Holy and only Catholic Church" [7].


"Breathe also Thy Holy Spirit upon us Thy servants, who, standing around, are about to enter on Thy holy service, upon the bishops, elders, deacons, readers, singers, and laity, with the entire body of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" [8].


"We pray and beseech Thee to fill our hearts with the peace of heaven, and to bestow moreover the peace of this life. Preserve for us through many years our most holy and blessed Papas (Patriarch) [name] and our most pious Bishop [name], while they, according to Thy holy and blessed will, peacefully fulfil the holy priesthood committed to their care, and dispense aright the word of truth, with all the orthodox bishops, elders, deacons, sub-deacons, readers, singers, with the entire body of the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" [9].


"Priest Offers Incense Saying, 'Remember the Orthodox bishops everywhere, the elders, deacons, sub-deacons, readers, singers, monks, virgins, widows, and laity'" [10].


Deacon, Subdeacon, and Readers celebrating the Liturgy of St Mark. Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY. 2017.

What we can observe from these early texts is that the offices of subdeacons and readers possibly existed as far back as the apostolic period, although only first referenced in the 2nd and 3rd centuries in writing, as mentioned earlier. We also know that these ecclesiastical clerical orders were created out of a need for the service of the Church for its daily activities as stated by Saint Cyprian of Carthage. What is also worthy of mentioning is that the subdiaconate is referenced in six different epistles from this period and we can learn specifically what one of these daily duties for the Church was because it was spoken about by Saint Cyprian. In Epistles XLI, XLII, LXXVI, LXXVIII, and LXXIX, we can see that these subdeacons were often used as couriers for the Church, delivering messages between various hierarchs of the period, which gives us some historical insight as to why the rank of subdeacons is so closely linked to the service of the bishop in our present time. In these ancient epistles mentioned we read:


Epistle XLI: Moreover, I have here transmitted also copies of the same by Mettius the sub-deacon, sent by me, and by Nicephorus the acolyte. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell [11].


Epistle XLII: This letter I have first of all entrusted to you by Mettius the sub-deacon for your perusal, lest anyone should pretend that I had written otherwise than according to the contents of my letter [12].


Epistle XXVII: Moreover, you wished me to reply what I thought concerning Philumenus and Fortunatus, sub-deacons [13].


Epistle LXXVII: Moreover, your continued gifts, and those of our beloved Quirinus, which you sent to be distributed by Herennianus the sub-deacon [14].


Epistle LXXVIII: Your letter came to us, dearest brother, while we were exulting and rejoicing in God that He had armed us for the struggle, and had made us by His condescension conquerors in the battle; the letter, namely, which you sent to us by Herennianus the sub-deacon [15].


Epistle LXXIX: We reply to your salutation, dearest brother, by Herennianus the sub-deacon [16].


In addition to the non-liturgical daily duties of a subdeacon, we are given valuable insight into their liturgical duties from the prayers and early liturgical rubrics of an ancient text called the Apostolic Constitutions that dates no later than the 4th century. The liturgical duties of the subdiaconate during this period states, "and let other deacons walk about and watch the men and women, that no tumult may be made, and that no one nod, or whisper, or slumber; and let the deacons stand at the doors of the men, and the sub-deacons at those of the women, that no one go out, nor a door be opened, although it be for one of the faithful, at the time of the oblation. But let one of the sub-deacons bring water to wash the hands of the priests, which is a symbol of the purity of those souls that are devoted to God" [17]. Expanding on the liturgical duties of a subdeacon we read in Canon XLIII of the Council of Laodicea that, "The subdeacons may not leave the doors to engage in the prayer, even for a short time" [18].


In this cursory overview of these ancient texts from as far back as the 2nd century, we can see that subdeacons and readers have, in fact, been a part of the apostolic tradition and have been handed to the Church in all jurisdictions, albeit some to a greater extent than others. What can be determined is that these clerical orders are ancient and possibly stretch back as far as the apostolic period, that the readers were ordained for service in the Church and to read the Holy Scriptures and other texts, and that the subdeacons were also used liturgically as well as to help with daily activities such as acting as message couriers for Church hierarchs. In addition to these patristic texts which have proven the ancient origins of these ecclesiastical ranks, it is worth nothing that even among the Latin Papists, during the Latin Council of Trent from 1545 to 1563, they can be quoted concerning all the ecclesiastical ranks that, "the functions of holy orders from the deacon to the porter, [...] have been laudably received in the Church from the times of the Apostles" [19].


Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church Concerning Subdeacons & Readers


"An important source regarding norms of practice in the Orthodox Church is to be found in the Canons of the Church" and within all these canons there are a great many of them that concern the rank of subdeacon and reader [20]. In today's Orthodox Church, equally among the laity and the rest of the clergy, there has developed this modern and incorrect belief that the subdeacons and readers are not numbered among the clergy or mistakenly fall into some category of 'minor clergy', a term in itself that does not belong to the Holy Orthodox Church but rather seems to come out of medieval Latin Papism, except in a singular instance in Canon XXV of the Council of Carthage [A.D. 419] which refers to every ecclesiastical rank outside of a bishop as lower orders. This canon says, "Concerning bishops and the lower orders who wait upon the most holy mysteries. It has seemed good that these abstain from their wives" [21].

Council of Nicaea in 325, Depicted in a Byzantine Fresco in the Basilica of St. Nicholas in Demre, Turkey.

Now the question that must be addressed is the clerical status of subdeacons and readers according to the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church. For example, "Canon 6 of the Council of Trullo (692 AD) states: '...of those being promoted to the clergy only lectors and cantors may marry...' and Canon 69 of the Apostles (pre fifth century) states, 'If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or subdeacon, or lector [reader], or cantor fails to fast... let him be deposed from office.' These canons rank lectors, cantors, and subdeacons in the clergy and they are liable for deposition from their office in the same manner" as bishops, priests and deacons [22]. According to the canons, this means that clergymen in the rank of subdeacons and readers are liable to be defrocked and returned to the status of a layman, because in fact they are not laymen but clergymen. To give more examples concerning possible canonical penalties for those within these ecclesiastical ranks to be defrocked as clergy to lay status we can read the canons which state:

Canon VI of Trullo: "Since it is declared in the apostolic canons that of those who are advanced to the clergy unmarried, only lectors 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. And if any of those who enter the clergy, wishes to be joined to a wife in lawful marriage before he is ordained subdeacon, deacon, or presbyter, let it be done" [23].


Canon IV of Trullo: "If any bishop, presbyter, deacon, sub-deacon, lector, cantor, or door-keeper has had intercourse with a woman dedicated to God, let him be deposed, as one who has corrupted a spouse of Christ, but if a layman let him be cut off" [24].


As is made perfectly clear in the Holy Canons of the Church, the canonical penalties that fall upon subdeacons and readers is the same that would befall any clergyman in any rank who acts in any manner outside their station and violates the canons as a clergyman in the Holy Orthodox Church.

The Office of Subdeacons & Readers in Today's Orthodox Church

Many people in today's Orthodox Church, primarily those coming from jurisdictions that are more Greek in practice, are not very familiar with the offices of ordained subdeacons and readers. This is because in many places those offices do not exist or they confuse them with laymen who have been given “blessing” to dress as subdeacons (including wearing a sticharion and an orarion that is often draped at each side versus crossed around the body in the proper manner) or take over the functions of readers and chanters. As we have seen throughout the written history and canons concerning those of subdeacons and readers going back to the 2nd century, the Church established these ecclesiastical clerical ranks to have ordained clergymen serving the Church in its daily activities and within the liturgical capacity. These orders were established to set apart those whom God has called to ordained service and it is the men in these orders who should be the only ones functioning in these roles.

His Grace + Bishop Luke of Syracuse Ordaining a Subdeacon at Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY.

In today's Orthodox Church there is a lack of ordained subdeacons and readers in many of these jurisdictions simply because men are not aware that these liturgical functions are, according to the canons, only to be done by those men who are ordained and set apart for it. Therefore, they are not seeking out ordination into these ranks. Another reason is that in many cases the bishops, because of large dioceses, are not able to travel to these parishes frequently to ordain them. In many instances, unfortunately, it is also occurs that many parish priests have adopted a modernism. They want to disregard the other ranks of the clergy to further widen the gap between the priests and the laity, replacing the ordained roles with laymen despite what the canons say and resulting in a form of ultra-clericalism, minus the subdeacons, readers and even sometimes the deacons.


However, we, being traditionalist Orthodox Christians and holding to the traditions that we “were taught whether by word or epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15, NJKV), also adhere to the canons as the Holy Ecumenical Councils have given us. The Seventh Ecumenical Council delivered to us in its First Canon stating:


Seeing these things are so, being thus well-testified unto us, we rejoice over them as he that hath found great spoil, and press to our bosom with gladness the divine canons, holding fast all the precepts of the same, complete and without change, whether they have been set forth by the holy trumpets of the Spirit, the renowned Apostles, or by the Six Ecumenical Councils, or by Councils locally assembled for promulgating the decrees of the said Ecumenical Councils, or by our holy Fathers [25].


The same Holy and Seventh Ecumenical Council in Canon XIV states with resounding clarity concerning those not ordained for service:


That there is a certain order established in the priesthood is very evident to all, and to guard diligently the promotions of the priesthood is well pleasing to God. Since therefore we see certain youths who have received the clerical tonsure, but who have not yet received ordination from the bishop, reading in the ambo during the Synaxis [Liturgy], and in doing this violating the canons, we forbid this to be done (from henceforth,) and let this prohibition be observed also amongst the monks [26].


In addition to the Seventh Ecumenical Council prohibiting un-ordained laymen from serving in these roles we can also look to the Council of Trullo in Canon LXIX which also states with resounding clarity that, “It is not permitted to a layman to enter the sanctuary (Holy Altar, Gk.), though, in accordance with a certain ancient tradition, the imperial power and authority is by no means prohibited from this when he wishes to offer his gifts to the Creator” [27]. And finally, because we live in an age of modernist innovation it also must be noted that according to the Holy Council of Laodicea in Canon XLIV it states that, “Women may not go [in]to the altar” [28]. It is clear from these Holy Canons concerning the separation between the clergy and the laity in regard to functions within the Church that they must be “maintained rigorously and the specific canons be considered normative rules for the functions and positions” for all ranks of the clergy [29]. “These canons are, thus, required to be followed closely; they are not mere guidelines or recommendations for best practice” [30].


Before continuing on we should examine the actual ordination service for both subdeacons and readers. For the reader which is the first ordination within the clerical ranks, we read in the tonsure and ordination service the bishop's prayers that say:


O Lord who enlightenest all created beings with the light of thy wonders, and knowest the intent of every man before it is formed, and strengthenest those who are desirous of serving thee: Do thou, the same Lord, array in thy fair and spotless vesture this thy servant (Name), who desireth to become a Reader before thy holy mysteries, that he may be illuminated, and that attaining unto the age to come he may receive the incorruptible crown of life, and rejoice with Thine elect in bliss everlasting. For blessed is thy name and glorified is thy Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages, Amen.


O Lord God Almighty, elect this thy servant (Name), and sanctify him and enable him with all wisdom and understanding to exercise the study and reading of thy divine words, preserving him in blamelessness of life. Through the mercies and bounties of love towards mankind of Thine Only-Begotten Son, with whom thou art blessed, together with Thine All-Holy and good and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages, Amen.


My son (Name), the first degree of the Priesthood is that of Reader. It behooveth thee, therefore, to peruse the divine Scriptures daily, to the end that the hearers, regarding thee, may receive edification, that thou, in nowise shaming Thine election, mayest prepare thyself for a higher degree. For by a chaste, holy and upright life thou shalt gain the favor of the God of loving kindness and shalt render thyself worthy of a greater ministry, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory unto ages of ages, Amen [31].


As for the subdeacon, the prayers of the bishop during the ordination to the subdiaconate read:


Lord, our God, Who through the one and same Holy Spirit distribute gifts of grace to each one whom You have chosen; Who have given to the Church different orders; and have established different degrees of ministry therein for the service of Your holy, pure Mysteries; and Who through Your ineffable foreknowledge have ordained this Your servant (Name) worthy to serve in Your holy Church. Preserve him, Lord, uncondemned in all things.


Grant that he may love the beauty of Your house, standing before the doors of Your holy temple, and lighting the lamps of the dwelling place of Your glory. Plant him in Your holy Church like a fruitful olive tree bringing forth the fruits of righteousness. Make him Your perfect servant at the time of Your Second Coming, that he may receive the reward of those who are pleasing in Your sight [32].


More often than not, the majority of times you will see that a reader and subdeacon within the fullness of their traditional context will be in the Slavic Churches, primarily in the Russian Orthodox Church, whether that be the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) or the Moscow Patriarchate, whereas in other jurisdictions they will be seen in passing usually right before the man is being ordained to the diaconate. However, there are times when readers will be ordained and they are not even told that they have been ordained into the clerical ranks and you will often find them without cassocks as befitting an Orthodox clergyman in all ranks or told they cannot wear one because it is “only for the clergy,” which goes back to what was discussed previously.

ROCOR Clergymen, Monastics, and Seminarians in Cassocks

For example, there is one document that has been circulating online for many years from a more byzantine jurisdiction concerning subdeacons and readers and the wearing of the cassock. This document introduces a modern innovation which is not consistent with the history, canons, ecclesiastical functions, or clerical statutes of subdeacons and readers and presents the cassock as a garment strictly for liturgical service rather than a garment for an ordained clergyman in general. The document states that:

A cassock is worn by a subdeacon or reader when he is serving in the church temple. If for some reason a subdeacon is not serving in the altar, he does not wear a cassock or his vestments. If for some reason a reader is not serving at the chanter’s stand (or in the altar), he does not wear his cassock. A reader or subdeacon does not wear the cassock to coffee hour or at other church functions. Only the clergy, that is those in major orders (bishop, priest, deacon), may wear a cassock outside of the Church temple. At diocesan conferences, a subdeacon or reader only wears a cassock when serving in their specific role. Neither would wear a cassock while sitting with the congregation for a liturgical service. If serving at a conference, the cassock would be brought folded to the chapel and blessed by a priest or the bishop prior to donning [...]. The cassock is removed immediately after the service and not worn through the hallways of the hotel. The cassock (and sticharion and orarion for a subdeacon) is to be blessed by the priest (or bishop) prior to putting it on [33].

However, as we have now gone through a thorough examination of the historical and canonical statutes of both subdeacons and readers we can see where this would be problematic and reduces these ranks to near laymen and not the first and second degrees of the priesthood. According to the interpretation of the renowned Orthodox Christian canonist, Patriarch Theodore Balsamon in his interpretation of clerical dress, as recorded in the Patrologia Graeca, Volume 137, he states that, "We believe simply that for one who wears black clothing [cassock] and chooses to join the priesthood, it is not possible to change it [remove it], for it is a profession of his dedication to God. Therefore, it is a rejection of his promise to God, and it mocks the holy image as if it were a theatrical costume." [34]. In addition to this interpretation from Patriarch Theodore Balsamon we also can look to Canon XXVII (27) of the Council of Trullo which states, "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. And if any one shall violate this canon, he shall be cut off for one week" [35]. This catalogue of clergy, as we have read, encompasses ordained readers and subdeacons.


In closing, we as members of the Church of Christ, the Orthodox Christians, who cling to the apostolic faith and the traditions of the Fathers also need to cling to the history and canons that were handed down to us. This history, these canons, and the clerical functions of the subdeacons and readers should "remain in force today, even if they have not been consistently followed [...] in order to maintain canonical and theological consistency" [36]. All Churches that have allowed these orders to fall to the wayside should make the effort to ordain those pious men worthy of the calling "to perform their various functions of the liturgy, which laity are not permitted to perform, and to encourage the laity to perform the parts of the services proper to them. This will help both to engage the laity with the service and to maintain the understanding that the liturgy is a mystical synergy of human and divine acts. Perhaps the full reality of the Liturgy can only be realised in its correct performance with properly ordained clergy performing their appropriate functions," [37] lest we become like the Latin Papists who entirely abandoned these ecclesiastical clerical ranks in 1974.

 

References


[1]. Fr. John P. Ramsey, PhD., Minor Clergy of the Orthodox Church: Their Role and Life According to the Canons (London: Amazon Publishing, 2016), 50.


[2]. Saint Hippoyltus of Rome, “Date of the Apostolic Tradition,” in The Treaties on the Apostolic Tradition of St Hippolytus of Rome: Bishop and Martyr,” ed. Gregory Dix, (Buntingford: The Layston Press Ltd., 1968), xxxv.


[3]. Tertullian, “Chapter XLI,” in Tertullian: On the Testimony of the Soul and On the “Prescription of Heretics, trans. Dr T. Herbert Bindley (London: S.P.C.K., 1914), 92.


[4]. Fr. John P. Ramsey, PhD., Minor Clergy of the Orthodox Church: Their Role and Life According to the Canons (London: Amazon Publishing, 2016), 50.


[5]. Saint Cyprian of Carthage, "Epistle XXIII," in Ante-Nicaean Fathers, Volume 5, ed. Dr. Alexander Roberts & Dr. James Donaldson (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 301.


[6]. Book of Acts 6:1-6, NKJV.


[7]. Holy Apostle Mark, "The Divine Liturgy of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, The Disciple of the Holy [Apostle] Peter," in Ante-Nicaean Fathers, Volume 7, ed. A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 554.


[8]. Ibid., 552.


[9]. Ibid., 554.


[10]. Ibid., 557.


[11]. Saint Cyprian of Carthage, "Epistle XXIII," in Ante-Nicaean Fathers, Volume 5, ed. Dr. Alexander Roberts & Dr. James Donaldson (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 320.


[12]. Ibid., 321.


[13]. Ibid., 321.


[14]. Ibid., 405.


[15]. Ibid., 406.


[16]. Ibid., 407.


[17]. Metropolitan Philotheos (Bryennios), "Sec. II. - Election and Ordination of Bishops: Form of Service on Sunday," in Ante-Nicaean Fathers, Volume Seven, A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 486.


[18]. Council of Laodicea, "Canon XLIII," in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 14 (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 153.


[19]. Council of Trent, "Chapter XVII In What Manner The Exercise Of The Minor Orders Is To Be Restored," Twenty-Third Session of the Council of Trent, accessed July 18th, 2023, https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/twentythird-session-of-the-council-of-trent-1490


[20]. Fr. John P. Ramsey, PhD., Minor Clergy of the Orthodox Church: Their Role and Life According to the Canons (London: Amazon Publishing, 2016), 9.


[21]. The Canons of the 217 Blessed Fathers Who Assembled at Carthage, "Canon XXV," in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 14 (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 445.


[22]. Fr. John P. Ramsey, PhD., Minor Clergy of the Orthodox Church: Their Role and Life According to the Canons (London: Amazon Publishing, 2016), 9.


[23]. Canons of the Council of Trullo, "Canon VI," in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 14 (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 364.


[24]. Ibid., 364.


[25]. Canons of the Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Council, "Canon I," in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 14 (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 555.


[26]. Ibid., 565.


[27]. Council of Trullo, “Canon LXIX,” in The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Volume 14, ed. Philip Schaff & Henry Wace (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 369.


[28]. Synod of Laodicea, “Canons of the Synod held in the City of Laodicea, in Phrygia Pacatiana, Canon XLIV,” in The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Volume 14, ed. Philip Schaff & Henry Wace (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 153.


[29]. Fr. John P. Ramsey, PhD., Minor Clergy of the Orthodox Church: Their Role and Life According to the Canons (London: Amazon Publishing, 2016), 59.


[30]. Ibid., 59.


[31]. "The Tonsuring of a Reader," Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, accessed July 19th, 2023, http://ww1.antiochian.org/1102195027


[32]. "The Holy Sacrament of Ordination to the Sub-Diaconate," Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, accessed July 19th, 2023, https://www.goarch.org/-/the-holy-sacrament-of-ordination-to-the-sub-diaconate


[33]. "A Guide to Readers and Subdeacons," Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America,

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, accessed July 19th, 2023,


[34]. Πατριάρχης Θεόδωρος Βαλσαμών, "Κανόνες της Αγίας Ζ΄ Οικουμενικής Συνόδου: Patrologia Graeca, τόμος 137, μετάφραση Jacques Paul Migne (Παρίσι: Imprimerie Catholique, 1857), 960-961.


[35]. Council of Trullo, "Canon XXVII," in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 14, ed. Philip Schaff & Henry Wace  (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 337.


[36]. Fr. John P. Ramsey, PhD., Minor Clergy of the Orthodox Church: Their Role and Life According to the Canons (London: Amazon Publishing, 2016), 64.


[37]. Ibid., 64.




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