In the Latin Catholic Breviary we read on the feast of St. Pope Soter (174), had instituted (or the Church already had) the 4 Minor Orders and the 3 Major Orders that ended in Holy Priesthood. These Orders have been maintained by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Institute of Christ the king and some other traditional Catholic orders under Rome.
For 1800 years this was the process to be ordained to the Holy Priesthood. It was not until 1972 the the minor orders were changed into ‘ministries’ and only retaining those of ‘Lector and Acolyte’. The Major Orders were reduced to only that of deacon and priesthood.
Before this, the process to the Holy Order of priesthood was a very long and holy process.
‘The ministry of so sublime a priesthood being a thing all divine, it is but befitting its worthier and more reverent exercise that in the Church’s well-ordered disposition there should be several different orders of ministers destined to assist the priesthood by virtue of their office — orders arranged in such a way that those who have already received clerical tonsure should be raised, step by step from the lower to the higher order.’ Council of Trent, Sess. xxiii. De Ord. c. 2.
The first was Tonsure. It was not an order, but a preparation for orders. Like exorcism is given in preparation for Baptism, the Tonsure is given in preparation for the priesthood by having your hair cut in a form of a crown and signified a man wanting to devote himself to the sacred ministry. This is when a young man became a cleric.
Then came the Non-Sacred or Minor Orders: Porter, Reader, Exorcist and Acolyte. After these 4 Minor Orders came the 3 Major Orders: Subdeacon, Deacon and the Holy Priesthood.
Porter has the responsibility of guarding the church building and making sure that no one disturbed the priest while he was offer the Sacred Liturgy. His symbol was keys.
‘Let your conduct be that of one who has to render to God an account of those things that are kept under these keys.’
Reader was to read in church in a clear and distinct voice from the Old and New Testament, especially those which are read during the Nocturnal Office or Psalmody. He was also to teach the fundamentals of the Catholic faith.
‘Take, and be you an announcer of the Word of God; if you faithfuly and profitably discharge your office, you shall have a part with those who from the beginning have well ministered the Word of God.’
‘Take and commit to memory, and have the power of imposing hands over the possessed, whether baptized or catechumen.’
Acolyte has the duty to attend and serve the ministers who are in Major Orders in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. They are called candle-bearers and take care of the lights and empty cruets during the Holy Mass.
‘Receive this candle-stick and candle, and remember that hence forth you are given the charge of lighting the candles of the church in the name of the Lord. Receive these cruets to supply wine and water for the Eucharist of Christ’s blood, in the name of the Lord.
Subdeacon is the first of the sacred orders. He is to serve the Deacon at the Altar. He prepares the altar-linen, vessels, host and wine for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He presents the water to the Bishop or priests to wash his hands. He reads the Epistle and guards the celebrant from being disturbed during any sacred ceremony.
Here is when the Bishop warns him of his obligation to live in perpetual continence. At his ordination, he receives the chalice and sacred paten from the bishop to show he will serve the deacon. He also receives cruets filled with water and wine with a basin and towel to wash and dry the hands.
‘See what sort of ministry is entrusted to you: I admonish you, therefore, to show yourself worthy to please God. Receive the book of the Epistles, with the power to read them in the Holy Church of God, as well for the living as for the dead.
Deacon is the second degree of Sacred Orders. His duties are to be always at the side of the bishop, guard him while he preaches, serve him and the priest during the celebrations of the Sacraments. He is also who reads the Gospel during the Sacrifice of the Mass. He reminded people to be attentive during the holy mysteries. He also administrated the Precious Blood in areas of the world that the faithful received the Eucharist under both species. He was also to distribute the Church’s goods to the needy. He also was the eyes of the bishop to see if the faithful were living good and holy lives. He would read out the list of the catecumens and present them to the bishop those who were to be admitted to holy orders. He was able to read the Gospel from the pulpit only if the Bishop or priest was not present.
In his ordination there is the imposition of hands, prayers, sacred vestments and receiving of the book of the Gospels.
‘Receive the power to read the Gospel in the Church of God, both for the living and the dead, in the name of the Lord.’
The highest degree of Sacred Orders in the priesthood. There is the Internal Priesthood and the external priesthood. The internal priesthood is what all people, (the faithful), are given at baptism. The External Priesthood is only given to men who have been ordained and consecrated to God by the lawful imposition of hands and by the solemn ceremonies of the Catholic Church through the bishop. This is Holy Order of the Priesthood.
‘Receive the power to offer the Sacrifice to God, and to celebrate Masses, both for the living and the dead.’
‘Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain they are retained.’ (John 20:22)
It is a terrible thing that 1800 years of Catholic tradition has been thrown out and only the diaconate and the priesthood have been maintained. We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and are able to remind all Catholic of the terrible atrocities that have taken place since Vatican II. We know that the Church was not wrong for 1800 years. The Church has gotten it wrong in the last 43-44 years. Look at the fruits of what has happen.