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37. The Distinction of Orders: The Character

1. "As in one body we have many members, but all themembers have not the same office" (Rom. 12:4), so in theChurch there are various orders appointed to their respectivesacred offices.

2. The distinction of orders is derived basically fromtheir varyingreference to the Holy Eucharist. There is: (a)the priest, who offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice; (b) thedeacon, who assists the priest; (c) thesubdeacon, who assists the priest and deacon and attendsthe sacred vessels of the Eucharistic sacrifice; (d) theacolyte, who proffers the matter (bread and wine) for thesacrifice; (e) the exorcist, who expels evil spirits whichrender a person unworthy to receive the Holy Eucharist; (f) thelector or reader, who imparts sacred instruction to thosewho come to Mass and Communion; (g) the porter ordoorkeeper, who attends the bells and portals, and welcomes thefaithful to the sacrifice and excludes those who should not beadmitted.

3. These seven orders are classified as majororders and minor orders. The major orders are three:subdeaconship, deaconship, priesthood. Deaconship and priesthoodbelong to the sacrament of holy orders. The bishop's office,the episcopate, is the fullness of priesthood. The minor ordersare: doorkeeper, lector, exorcist, acolyte.

4. Each of the orders has its proper acts and manyincidental functions. These, as we have noted, are all directed insome manner to the divine center and core of our religion-our Lordhimself in the Holy Eucharist.

5. The character impressed upon the soul by thesacrament of orders is given when the sacrament is conferred.

"It is better to be burdened and in company with the strong than to be unburdened and with the weak. When you are burdened you are close to God, your strength, who abides with the afflicted. When you are relieved of the burden you are close to yourself, your own weakness; for virtue and strength of soul grow and are confirmed in the trials of patience."
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"Whoever wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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