Don't panic! This won't be another pompous rant by me about Liturgy and how Trad Catholics get it spectacularly wrong...even more so than the Modernists in some respects. The blogger Ex Fide has written two comparative, very cogent and well-thought-out posts, here and here, about Holy Orders, specifically the Diaconate and Subdiaconate, their respective roles within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and the inherent dangers in certain tendencies in the Western approach to them (yet more wonderful ''developments''). The points I find resonant are questions about whether a Priest is a Deacon (and Subdeacon, although since 1974 this point raises other questions*), and whether it is desirable (or even decent, liturgically that is) for a Priest to fill the role of Deacon and/or Subdeacon in the celebration of Mass. I personally find it very strange that three priests (none of whom will have been ordained Subdeacon if their ordinations were after 1974) have to be procured for a celebration of High Mass in the Old Roman Rite. I remember serving a Mass about two years ago (as ''Torchbearer'' - one of the prerogatives of Pontifical liturgy in my opinion) which had to be sung without Ministers because one of them didn't turn up. I was irked by that at the time and still feel irked by it to this day because it is redolent of a mentality fundamentally at odds with the Sacred Liturgy - the ''Low Mass mentality,'' as a friend of mine sometimes says. Why should the Sacred Liturgy suffer vast curtailments just because you can't procure a priest to ''do'' Subdeacon, that is, as Ex Fide says, step down temporarily for the duration of Mass? Since the Subdiaconate is a Minor Order instituted by the Church I think that even laymen can ''do'' Subdeacon for want of a tonsured cleric, in the same way that laymen and boys can ''do'' Acolyte and form the liturgical choir. If the Subdiaconate is a Major Order though (as it seems to have become in the West), why does the Bishop not lay hands upon the ordinand? The laying on of hands is an integral part of the ordination of the Major Orders but not the Minor ones. Also, if it is a Major Order, what authority would Paul VI have to abolish it?
Lumen Gentium says that ''the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by episcopal consecration.'' Again this sort of makes stale Paul VI's later restoration of the permanent Diaconate in 1967; flattens out, as it were, the restoration of a more holistic tradition in the Roman Church, for the implications of this assertion still cling to the indelible mark hermeneutic, and seem to imply that a priest is less ordained than his bishop, and a deacon less than a priest etc. I think that those ridiculous geriatrics who make the Second Vatican Council out to be something that it wasn't (the ''spirit of Vatican II'' crowd - diametrically opposed to the Trads, who think the Council little better than a latrocinium, or a synod of brigands hijacked by liberals - poor old Bugnini, the scapegoat of Tradworld!) make a very cogent point when they accuse the pre-Conciliar Church of clericalism. There is always a grain of truth in a heresy - the very fault of heresy is the perversion, or exaggeration, of the Truth. Were it not for the sidelining of the Diaconate as a permanent Order in the West (and in its place a more exalted kind of priesthood - with disastrous consequences for the Liturgy) the gap between priest and congregation, the distinction between the priesthood of all believers and the priesthood of the hierarchy, would not have appeared so great. God instituted three orders of Bishop, Priest and Deacon - not just Bishop and Priest, with the Deacon as a temporary, inferior, state. Deacons are very important - so important, in fact, that I think every parish should have one. Unfortunately this assertion of the Second Vatican Council merely perpetuates that mentality, with the Pope as a kind of super-bishop answerable to none but God alone (if even He).
Since this is a link to another blog I shall stop rambling on now. In the early Church, as in Egeria's day, the focal point of the Christian life was the solemn celebration of the Sacred Liturgy on the Lord's Day by the Bishop with the assistance of his Priests and Deacons and the whole Christian community - what on earth has it become? One hour a week in a parish church which provides defective liturgy is just not good enough (and how often do you see your diocesan Bishop???), and you may try to compensate for this by devotions in the family, and the ''domestic church'' reflects, in a certain sense, the Church community as a whole, but is this really what Christianity is about, I ask you?
* For instance, are priests ordained after 1964 (the year Paul VI made the maniple optional) allowed to wear the maniple? And are priests ordained after 1974 (the year Paul VI abolished the Subdiaconate and Minor Orders) allowed to ''do'' Subdeacon at Mass having not been ordained in the first place?