Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Minor Orders

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of the Syriac Catholic Church and the Chaldean Church, which we have not disregarded upon union with Rome, is the strong emphasis on the minor orders in the Church.

The minor orders are:
  • Mazamrono (cantor)
  • Quryoyo (lector)
  • Aphudyaqno (subdeacon)
In the Syriac Church young men and boys are encouraged to join the minor orders. Depending on the Eparchy or parish a system of learning and rewarding is used. An example of this may be: If young man would know the different movements in the Qurobo (Mass) and knows how to chant the Psalms he would be ordained a cantor. Upon a young man learning the various prayers required by the deacon (by deacon here, I mean server) in the liturgy he is ordained as a lector, when a young man is able to learn Syriac and read the epistle well, he would be ordained a subdeacon.


Here the orders are permanent, meaning there is no assumption that the young man will continue all the way to the priesthood. Nevertheless, if a young man feels a call to the Holy Orders (full-deacon or priest) he can consult his Bishop.

What often happens in the Patriarchal territories (and sometimes in the diaspora) is that a Bishop may ask a married subdeacon to become a full-deacon. A subdeacon is often chosen based on his standing in the community, self-education, love for the Church, knowledge of  liturgy and holiness. A full-deacon usually becomes the head of the deacons in a parish. His primary liturgical responsibility is organising the deacons, which musical scales to use, which deacon uses the censer, which deacon proclaims specific prayers etc. He may also be required to give classes, baptise and help the priest. While at the same time he continues his secular job.

A deacon may latter on in his life be asked to be a married priest. If this happens he may be required to leave his secular life completely and dedicate his life to the Church.

The importance of the minor orders are many. They include:

  • the education of young boys
  • foster vocations
  • creates a sense of community
  • encourages the preservation of tradition amongst the laity 
  • education of laity through the minor orders
and many more...

I personally believe though, that in the diaspora it is far too easy to elevate through the minor orders. Many young men without a knowledge of Syriac or liturgy are often made lectors or subdeacons. The minor orders are often seen as only positions of prestige. And while they are prestigious, the requirement and promise is to serve the Church and the community.

Through the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all.

1 comment:

  1. There was a time, before WWI, when it was similarly true of the Maronites. Sadly, this is no longer the case. In those days, the village mukhtar was often ordained afudiacono and sometimes even mshamshono. Unfortunately, these days there is not a vestige of the old practice left. At least our Syriac and Chaldean brethren hold to the tradition, and the Chaldeans, at least, even in the diaspora.

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