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I am answering from the perspective of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Following Vatican II, the Latin rite of the Catholic Church suppressed the minor orders
and reconstituted two of them under the designation of ministries, viz. those of reader
and acolyte (Ministeria quaedam, 15 August 1972: AAS 64 (1972). However, this these
minor orders were not suppressed in the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is the intention
of the Catholic Church, that each of the Eastern Catholic Church sui iuris maintains its
own traditions. (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches can.327). Those who receive
a cheirothesia to a minor order are governed by the particular law of their own Church
sui iuris. Cheirothesia is the term used in the Byzantine rite to designate an ordination
to the ranks of taper-bearer, reader/cantor, or subdeacon. It is from the Greek for
imposition of hands. Cheirotonia, meaning voting by raising the hand is used to refer
to ordinations to the diaconate, presbyterate, and episcopate. Whoever has received a
minor order is enrolled in the ecclesiastical hierarchy and through such an ordination
becomes a cleric either in an eparchy or a monastery. It is a life-long commitment
directed to the good of the Church in order to fulfill a function necessary for the
Churchs life. The functions fulfilled by these orders are necessary for the full life of the
particular Church.

The Eastern Catholic Church are exhorted to maintain the minor orders and to restore
them to greater significance and vitality (Instruction for Applying the Liturgical
Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, 74, 6 January, 1996:
Congregation for the Eastern Churches). The Eastern Catholic Churches are not to
introduce a different usage in these matters than what is found among the Orthodox.
(Instruction,74.) These orders along with the diaconate are not mere formalities in
preparation for presbyteral ordination. They provide a specific service in the Church
Thus, the ministers necessary for a dignified and fitting celebration of the liturgy are
obtained, avoiding the practice, different also in this case from the Latin Church in
which it is no longer in use, of having ministers of a higher range perform the liturgical
functions that should be reserved to those of lower range (the most frequent case is
that of presbyters functioning as deacons), or of permanently appointing to the laity
liturgical tasks expected of a minister: practices to be eliminated.(Instruction,75.) It
should be noted that many of those clergy who speak of themselves as traditional
Roman Catholics when celebrating according to the extraordinary form of the Roman
rite (Missale Romanum, 1962) have presbyters function as deacons and subdeacons.
The practice seems to contradict both Roman and Eastern Catholic legislation along
with presenting a confusion in regards to the various orders in the Church. Apparently,
some people in the Catholic Church lack the will to put an end to a practiced that is to
be eliminated. We find that the reason for the minor orders is rooted in liturgical
practice. Quite clearly these minor orders fulfill very necessary functions. These
functions are so important to a dignified and fitting celebration of the liturgy that they
cannot be left to chance. Those who are to fulfill the offices of reader/cantor or
subdeacon are to be permanently committed to the fulfillment of their liturgical duties.
They are to be properly formed, trained and educated so that what they do in the liturgy
and outside of it will lead to the building up of the Body of Christ to whom they have
committed their service.
It is difficult to imagine a liturgical service in the Byzantine rite without a well-trained
cantor. I am not speaking of someone who can chant the ordinary and propers of the
Divine Liturgy alone. Rather the well-trained cantor can function at all of the Churchs
services and can lead the assembly into a full, active and conscience participation in
the liturgy. This type of training even for those who are musically adept will often take
years. It seems only fitting that such cantors be ordained, for by ordination the Church
clearly says that this person is set apart to fulfill a particular and necessary liturgical
function. These remarks are also applicable to the function of the subdeacon whose
office is usually fulfilled by children who act as altar servers. While, we should be
grateful for the service of these children at the altar, the duties of the subdeacon really
does require the attention, dedication and commitment of an adult. A subdeacon that is
properly formed, trained and educated can offer a valuable service to the deacon in his
liturgical and extra-liturgical functions, as well as to the priest and bishop. Subdeacons
ought to be trained in the order or paradigm of the services. Like deacons, they must
be able to anticipate what will come next in the service so that all things can be done in
a dignified and fitting manner. When the minor orders of reader/cantor and subdeacon
are executed as they should be, the bishop or priest can lead the assembly in prayer
without distraction, and in a fuller manner can the whole assembly enter in the
Mysteries of Christ.

While it is necessary that those who function in the order of deacon can sing the
synaptes or etkenias on pitch, and the Gospel according to the tradition of their own
Church, it is not necessary that they be trained cantors. However, a candidate for the
diaconate or the presbyterate needs to know and be able to demonstrate his
knowledge of the liturgical books and the order of services before ordination.
Candidates also need to know and be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the
rubrics not only for the order that they aspire to but also for all the orders, including the
role of the assembly. This knowledge should be firmly grounded in liturgical theology in
order that the rubrics do not acquire a life of their own. It seems the purpose of
requiring all candidates for the diaconate to receive minor orders is to have an
appreciation of how the different orders interrelate to one another, (the minor orders
especially the subdiaconate are very closely connected to the diaconate), to acquire an
understanding of the importance of the different orders for the well being of the Church,
and to acquire and to practice the minor orders in order to train for the diaconal
function. Minor orders will mean very little except to fulfill a legal requirement if the
candidate is not given ample formation, training and education before the cheirothesia
to the orders of reader/cantor and subdeacon. Following ordination, one should actually
fulfill the duties in a full and active manner.

In Divine Services celebrated by a priest with the assistance of a deacon:

Light the lamps and candles.

Extinguish the lamps and candles.

Prepare and tend the censer. They may place incense on the coal.
Hand the censer to the deacon or priest when needed.

Carry candles or torches in the processions (Little Entrance, Gospel, Great Entrance).

Carry ripdia in the processions.

Open and close the deacons doors.

Open and close the altar curtain.

Open and close the holy/royal doors but only if there are two subdeacons doing this
together so that neither stands between the holy doors and the holy table. If this cannot
be done without standing between the holy doors and the holy table, the deacon opens
and closes the holy doors.

Prepare and set out the vestments for the priest and deacon.

After the service return the vestments to their place of storage.

Cut up the bread to be used for antidoron and hold this bread on the tray when the
priest distributes it.

Bring up the prosophora offerings and assist the priest with the booklets or chits of
paper that have the names of the living and the dead.

Return the prosphora offerings following the Divine Liturgy.

Light the standing candle and place it before the holy doors on the solea during the
communion of the priest and deacon.

Prepare and bring the boiling water (zeon/teplota) to the deacon.

They may touch the holy table if directed by the deacon or priest. For example if the
altar coverings need to be changed, they would assist the deacon or priest.

They may prepare the table of oblation: chalice, diskos, etc.

If necessary hold the service book for the priest. Usually at Divine Liturgy, the service
book rests on an anologion to the left of the priest at the north-west corner of the holy
table. At baptisms, crownings/marriage, funerals, or other services when the priest is
standing in the narthex or in the centre of the nave and has no anologion, the
subdeacon holds and pages the service book (usually the Trebnyk).

Hold the communion cloth (lention) under the chin of the communicant.

Hold the holy water vessel and brush.

Hold the blessed bread for distribution at the Vigil.

Hold the blessed oil and brush for anointing at the Vigil.
Blessed altar servers and readers/cantors may do the above but they may not:

Open and close the holy/royal doors.

Prepare the table of oblation.

Touch the holy table.

At Pontifical Services:

Act as staff-bearer.

Act as train-bearer when the bishop wears the episcopal mandyas.

Bear and tend to the trikerion and dikerion.

Place the orletsi or eagle rugs in the proper places when needed. Note the
subdeacon is not to stand before the holy table when doing this but to place the eagle
rug in place while standing to the north or south side of the holy table.

Vest and divest the bishop.

Wash the bishops hands.

(The subdeacon on the right is holding a ripidion over the gospel book. Photo M.L. Turi)

Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the
Eastern Churches. Congregation for the Eastern Churches. 6 January 1996.

The above instruction which is canonically binding makes a number of important points
in regards to the subdiaconate:
Whoever is enrolled in a minor Order is no longer a lay person but a member of the
clergy. 73
Subdeacons are enrolled in the eparchy for whose serve they are ordained unless
previously enrolled, e.g as a reader. 73
The ancient practice of minor Orders is to be maintained. 74
The reforms of the particular laws of the different Churches should rather restore
them [minor orders] to greater significance and vitality. This is also recommended for
reasons of ecumenical nature: if the Eastern Catholic Churches have a special duty of
fostering unity among all the Eastern Churches, among other ways, through religious
fidelity to the ancient traditions, it would not seem helpful to introduce a differentiation
of usage with respect to the Orthodox Churches, all participating in the same common
origin. 74
The minor Orders and the diaconate are not mere formalities in preparation for
presbyterial 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,
avoiding the practice, different also in this case from the Latin Church in which it is no
longer in use, of having ministers of a higher range perform the liturgical functions that
should be reserved to those of a lower range (the most frequent case is that of
presbyters functioning as deacons), or of permanently appointing to the laity liturgical
tasks expected of a minister: practices to be eliminated. 75
[It should be noted that the liturgical functions of the subdeacon are so necessary that
when subdeacons are not available their functions for the most part are assumed by
lay altar servers. Section 75 clearly prioritizes the subdeacon before the lay altar
server.]

Who should distribute the Eucharist? 58

Can. 709 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches establishes that it is the
responsibility of the priest to distribute the Eucharist, or also the deacon if the particular
law of the Church sui iuris so disposes. The subsequent paragraph grants the right to
the Synod of Bishops of the patriarchal Church, or to the Council of Hierarch, to
establish norms by which other Christians faithful can also distribute the Eucharist. 58
Therefore, assigning to the deacon or even to other faithful the task of distributing the
Divine Eucharist depends on the instructions of the particular law. 58
Therefore, it is appropriate that the faculty of distributing the Eucharist by those other
than the Bishop or the presbyter, or the deacon if so disposed by the particular law of
each Church sui iuris, be exercised only in the case of true emergency. 58
The Canons of the Particular Law of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church states in
Can. 91 (CCEO) c. 709 1 The Divine Eucharist is distributed by the priest, and if
necessary, also by the deacon.
[Only the Synod of Bishops in the UGCC has the authority to grant a faculty to
subdeacons, readers, or the laity to distribute the Divine Eucharist. (This is unlike the
Latin Church where the local ordinary and in certain circumstances the priest celebrant
has the authority to grant such a faculty.) The Synod of Bishops in the UGCC has not
granted such a faculty to subdeacons and therefore, it is illicit and a liturgical abuse for
subdeacons to distribute the Divine Eucharist in the UGCC.]

http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/388598/2

Is not the title "permanent," when used as part of any ecclesiastical title, in fact a
misnomer? What rank is permanent (besides maybe Patriarch)? Even in the Latin
Church a Permanent Deacon is not absolutely prevented from one day becoming a
priest (or even bishop)... is he? I understand the idea behind the use of the word
"permanent" was to differentiate Latin Church deacons from what was their norm of
having "transitional deacons" (i.e., those becoming priests). Perhaps it served a good
purpose in the Latin Church until their faithful could get used to the concept of deacons
who were not transitional. But now the word permanent seems to encourage an
inaccurate understanding of the Churchs ecclesiastical ranks -most of which are not
permanent.

The ministry of Sub-Deacon in the Armenian tradition is very distinct from that of most
Byzantine Churches. In the Armenian Church tradition, sub-deacons are seen as
partakers of diaconal ministry. They partake of nearly the identical liturgical service as
that of full deacons. These similarities in diaconal service include:

-Sub-Deacons wear the same vestments as full deacons.


-Sub-Deacons regularly serve at the Holy Altar in fulfillment of their diaconal functions.
-Sub-Deacons incense and intone all the litanies of the Divine Liturgy and the various
Canonical Services.
-Sub-Deacons regularly fulfill the lead deacons duties -including the most solemn
moment of the Epiclesis- even if full deacons are present and serving in the Liturgy.
-Sub-Deacons solemnly intone the Holy Gospel on a regular basis

Altar Server Procedures


Server actions: Anticipate!

1. Prior to Liturgy:
Arrive & vest 15 minutes early PLEASE!!!
LEAD SERVER Start Preparations, Plan Server Roles
Light Candles: Altar & Tetrapod
Light Kadila charcoal
Light Torches; take into Altar
Take Kadila to Table of Preparation; Incense
Plan Crossbearers, Torchbearers, etc.
any special instructions from priest/deacon

2. Divine Liturgy

Beginning of Liturgy
Prepare Kadila (1) for Deacon
Assist Opening Royal Doors

Little Entrance: Hymn of the Incarnation


O Only Begotten Son and Word of God...
Cross, Torches; Northern Servers Line up by North Deacon Door
Southern Servers Join Procession in front of Deacon/Priest
Process out through North Deacon Door
Short route DIRECTLY BEHIND Tetrapod; Balance servers on 2 sides

End of Epistle Reading:


Prepare Kadila (2) for Deacon for Alleluia before Gospel

Gospel Reading:
Process out through nearest Deacon Door with Torches
Rapidia Only Used for Priest; Deacon Torches (no Rapidia)
one (or two) servers to hold Gospel

Homily:
Add 1 piece charcoal to Kadila
(others remain seated; this is not halftime)

Cherubimic Hymn and Great Entrance:


Let us, who mystically represent the Cherubim...
Prepare Kadila (3) for Deacon
Cross, Fans, Torches
Line Up by North Deacon Door AFTER Deacon incensing is completed
1 Server for Kadila
Process Out through North Deacon Door
Short Route IN FRONT OF Tetrapod; Servers Balanced

Anaphora:
Take, eat...
Profound Bow
Drink of this All...
Profound Bow
Immediately after, prepare Kadila (4) for Priest

Communion: as last people come to receive communion:


Prepare Kadila (5) for Priest

Dismissal
Assist Closing of Royal Doors
Process out to sanctuary: Servers first

3. After Liturgy:

Extinguish Candles (do not blow out; use proper tool)


Torches: Extinguish,
8:00 Servers: LEAVE IN SANCTUARY,
10:30 Servers: place in closet
Bring empty water & wine flasks to sanctuary;
Fill and place in refrigerator

4. During Liturgy:

Stand with Hands Folded Prayerfully


Make Sign of Cross at appropriate times
Open Deacon Door for Deacon exiting/entering altar

5. Additional:

Wear cassock your size, take home to wash/iron every 3 months


Check schedule for vestment color
Take home copy of schedule