The Sacrament of the Holy Orders

Jude Missa

The Sacrament of the Holy Orders is one of the Seven Sacraments that our Lord Jesus Christ instituted that plays important role to the Catholic Church, the priesthood. The priests are the ones who initiate the other six sacraments: baptism, confirmation of the faithful, a confessor to those who needs absolution, anointing the sick ones, give matrimony to couples and give the Body and Blood of our Lord to the faithful in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. In the previous centuries, many men wanted to become priests. But in our current generation, most men have no desire to become a priest anymore and being a lay minister is what most aim to serve our Lord because they can hold and give communion to the faithful, which, most people don’t know, is invalid.

In priesthood, a lot of us are only familiar with the Major Order an the two steps of priesthood, the deacon and the priest. But traditionally, there are seven steps to becoming a priest in the previous centuries. It is also divided in two orders, the Minor and Major Orders.

Tonsure – Tonsure is a preparation for becoming a priest where a man received a hair cut in a form of a crown that signifies that he wanted to devote himself to the Sacred Ministry. Though it’s not part of the order, it is also a important step of becoming a priest.


The minor orders or the seminarians is the first step on becoming a priest. They will stay in the Catholic Seminary and study about faith and how to become a priest. The Minor Orders is very important because this will help a man’s spiritual training on becoming a priest.

  1. Porter – Is the first of the minor orders. The Porter is responsible of opening and closing the church, expelling people who should not be inside the church. He watches over the Sacred Vessels, vestments and making sure that no one disturbed the Priest while celebrating the Holy Mass. The Porter received a set of keys from the bishop during his ordination since he is the guardian of the church and it is also the symbol of the Porter.
  2. Lector – Is the second of the minor orders. The Lector’s duty is to read sacred books during Nocturnal Office or Psalmody and also teach catechism. The Lector touches the book of Liturgical readings during his ordination as a sign of his mission.
  3. Exorcist – Is the third of the minor orders. The Exorcist was given power to casting out demons from a body of the possessed and keep demons away from the faithful. The Exorcist touches the book of exorcism during his ordination as a symbol of his function.
  4. Acolyte – is the fourth and final minor order. The Acolyte’s duty is to participate and assist the sacred ministers (Priest, Bishop or Pope) by presenting to them the wine and water. He is also a candle bearer. The Acolyte touches the cruets in his ordination. If the Acolyte is not present in the Holy Mass, the altar server or Master of Ceremony will be the ones to assist the priest.



This Major Order is the sacred order where the person is now having a few steps on becoming a priest and become more closer to the Sacred Host.

  1. Subdeacon – is the first of the Major Order. The duty of the Subdeacon is to assist the deacon in the Holy Mass by presenting the patent and the chalice, pouring the water in the chalice and chanting or reading the Epistle. The subdeacons were commanded to recite the breviary every day to continually lifting up their minds to God. Their new state demands of them a profound spirit of faith and the practice of purity, not only that of the body, but also that of the heart.
  2. Deacon – the second and the last step in the Major Order. The duty of the deacon is to assist the bishop or the priest at the Holy Mass. He sings or read the Gospel and he can also be assigned to preach the sermon. They can also administer the Sacrament of Baptism and give communion to the sick as extraordinary minister. During the final years of their studies, the deacon must prepare for their priesthood as they learn how to celebrate the Holy Mass.
  3. Priesthood – After years of study, the deacon will now ordain as priest by the Bishop. His hand will be consecrated so he can now hold the blessed sacrament. In the next day after the ordination, he will celebrate his first Holy Mass.

Sadly, during the Vatican II under the reign of Pope Paul VI, the minor orders were removed and the subdeacon in the Holy Orders. This are the reasons why some priests have no experience in exorcism. Instead of a long-term study and strengthen their faith when becoming a priest, the years of becoming a priest were reduced.


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