Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Orders Holy

Orders, Holy. (1) The estates of bishops, priests, and deacons, conferred by the imposition of hands of lawfully-ordained bishops. (2) The ceremony or rite by which a bishop thus consecrates ministers for the service of the Church. In the Anglican, as in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches, this ceremony is regarded as a sacrament. It is held that the power of bestowing grace by the laying on of hands has been transmitted to the bishops through an unbroken series of ordinations from the apostles. This is known as the doctrine of Apostolical Succession. Hence these orders are entitled holy or apostolical; they are also termed mayor orders to distinguish them from minor orders, which have not the same spiritual character, although they form part of the ecclesiastical organisation, and are usually conferred by a bishop (but without imposition of hands). Minor orders were instituted for the purpose of relieving the higher officers of the Church of the more secular portion of their duties. At the present time four ranks are included in the minor orders of the Roman Catholic Church - acolyte, exorcist, reader, and doorkeeper. The office of sub-deacon is now usually reckoned among the major orders. The total number of orders is, however, only seven, the offices of bishop and priest being identified in respect of their sacerdotal functions. In the Greek Church it is unusual to recognise any minor orders but those of sub-deacon and render (anagnostes); by the Reformed Churches they are altogether rejected.