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hierarchy of bishops, priests, and deacons, would be alone sufficient for the work of the ministry: once it was found not to be so, and further aid, upon the authority and under the wisdom of the church, was given: leaving an example to succeeding generations. But when the cause for such additional assistance had passed away; or when, by gradual decay, the original purpose and end of such appointments had either been converted into the encrease of an already too great excess of ceremony, and vain superstition, or into the idle retaining of the names only without the offices ; it would have been equally unreasonable to have continued, as it were, in mockery, so mere a shadow of what had once been good.

Before we leave the minor orders altogether, I would take from Ælfric's pastoral epistle, an account of their duties, as they were regarded in the Anglo-saxon age. “Ostiarius is the doorkeeper, who holds the keys of the church. Lector is the reader, who reads in church. Exorcista is an adjutor, who reads over men diseased in mind, and the infirm. Acoluthus is he, who bears the light at God's ministries. Subdiaconus is the under deacon, who bears the chalice and the dish at the mass, and ministers to the deacon.” 79

66

79 Thorpe. Ancient Laws. vol.

vas superius, unde lavandis ma. 2. p. 379.

nibus aqua infunditur." Epist. 13. Archbishop Lanfranc explains And Joan. de Janua. Aquimathe distinction of the aquamanile, nile, dicitur res, super quod cadit which was given, at their ordina- aqua, qua abluuntur digiti sacertion, to the subdeacons. “ Vas dotum post sumptionem corporis inferius, in quod manibus infusa Christi.” cit. Ducange, Glossaaqua delabitur.

rium.

Urceolus vero,

CHAPTER VI.

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E proceed now to deacons, concerning whom,

the excerpts of archbishop Egbert, quoting a Carthaginian canon, decree: “Placuit ut ante xxv. annos ætatis, nec diaconus ordinetur, nec virgines consecrentur, nisi rationabili necessitate cogente. But as time went on, an earlier limit was allowed : as is clear from the Pupilla, in a place which specifies also the ages at which the inferior orders might be received: and I therefore quote it. “ Ordinandus in exorcistam, lectorem, seu ostiarium debet esse major infante. i. major septennio. Et similiter ille qui primam tonsuram suscipit ordinandus in acolytum debet esse major xiiij. annis. Item major xvij. annis potest ordinari in subdiaconum. Major etiam xix. annis potest ordinari in diaconum : et major xxiv. annis in sacerdotem : et major xxx. annis potest esse episcopus.” 2

As to their disabilities, the chief assumption by deacons seems to have been, the hearing of confessions : this is complained of and prohibited by the Norwich canons of 1257. “ Audivimus quoque, quod quidam sacerdotes faciant suos diaconos audire confessiones parochianorum suorum ; quod quam sit absurdum non opus est dicere, cum evidenter verum sit, quod diaconis non est tradita potestas, nec quærat ex hoc nisi occasionem aut spatium intendendi negotiis secularibus. Propterea firmiter inhibemus, ne diaconi confessiones

1 Thorpe. Ancient Laws. vol. 2. p. 110. xciij.
. Lib. vij. Cap. 4. A.

audiant, aut pænitentias injungant, aut alia sacramenta ministrent, quæ concessa sunt solis sacerdotibus ministrare.”3 The reader will observe, that in the above, the reason of a deacon's presuming to hear confessions, is attributed rather to the idleness or secular disposition of the superior priest : which nevertheless would not excuse the intruding deacon: in the following order, however, of the synod of Exeter, A. D. 1287, we find the practice altogether forbidden, without the assignment of any special cause for the offence: “Et cum in ecclesia Dei, secundum inferiores et superiores ordines, officia sint distincta, nec inferior usurpet officium superioris, ut promiscuis actibus contingant ecclesiastica officia perturbari; firmiter inhibemus, ne diaconi confessiones audiant, poenitentiasve injungant, vel sacra ministrent, aut aliqua officia exerceant, quæ solis sacerdotibus sunt concessa. And we learn from the annals of the monastery of Burton, that this circumstance formed one of the diocesan articles of enquiry, put forth by bishop Grosteste in 1252: “ An diaconi audiant confessiones, vel alia ministrent sacramenta tantum sacerdotibus concessa ?

" 5

3 Wilkins. Conc. tom. 1. p. sense in which deacons could thus 733.

be said to be curates in that age, Ibid. tom. 2. p. 145.

is very different from that in 5 Rerum Anglic. Script. tom. which they are now so often, and 1. p. 317. I shall have to quote unhappily from the force of cirpresently, a gloss of Lyndwood, cumstances so often, styled cuupon the authority, which various rates. I do not remember, nor degrees of the clergy have, to conceive that it would be easy, to preach:

: in which mention will be produce an instance of a deacon made of deacons, as curates : having the sole charge of a pawhence some might perhaps ar- rish, in the time of Lyndwood, gue, that being curates” they except for that short time, after might hear confessions. But the presentation to a benefice, before

But, after all, these various canons must have been directed to the unwarranted hearing of confessions : because, in certain cases of great necessity, and in those only, power to do so was given to deacons, by a provincial constitution of archbishop Edmund.

- De pænitentia præcipimus : quod diaconi pænitentias dare non præsumant, nisi in his casibus : cum sacerdos non potest, vel absens est: vel stulte, vel indiscrete non vult: et mors imminet ægroto.” It would seem to be allowed only that the confession should be heard power of giving absolution was granted, or the semblance of it; and in fact, these extreme cases did not place a deacon in a higher position, than, under the same circumstances, a mere layman. For thus Lyndwood says, upon the word “ægroto” in the above : “Qui desiderat confiteri. Tali namque casu potest non solum diaconus, sed etiam laicus confessionem ægroti audire; immo et mulier hoc potest. Et hoc verum, ad ostendendum fidem sacramenti. Sacramentum tamen deficit, quia nullus potest vere absolvere nisi sacerdos.'

I shall add one more particular only, directed towards the proper administration of the blessed Eucharist to the sick : in which the blame must be attributed, it would appear, altogether to the negligence or carelessness of the parish-priest. “Caveant presbyteri, ne ad visitandum infirmos se exhibeant difficiles ;

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reception of priest's orders. The term curacy is to be understood, as regards deacons, in the sense of "title" or place of ministration to which they were ordained or appointed, and within the li

mits of which they might exercise the privileges and functions of their order.

6 Lib. 3. Tit. 24. Baptisterium. Cf. Lib. 5. Tit.

6. De pænitentia.

nec, sicut a quibusdam hactenus est præsumptum, mittant cum eucharistia diaconos ad infirmos." This is one of the canons of a diocesan synod of Chichester, A. D. 1289.?

We must now proceed to some matters connected with the duties and qualifications of the next and higher order, the priests. As to the age, earlier than which they were not to be ordained, I have already spoken, p. cvii. In the middle of the eighth century, the council of Cloveshoo, gives the following admonition: “Octavo monuerunt capitulo: ut presbyteri indesinenter reminiscant, ad quod divina ordinatione præ cæteris promoti sint; quod Dei videlicet ministri et dispensatores mysteriorum Christi vocantur; et tunc quæritur inter dispensatores, ut fidelis quis inveniatur;' unde sciant se necessario pro Dei intuitu debere a secularibus negotiis causisque, in quantum prævaleant, vacare ; altaris officium divinique cultus obsequium summa intentione persolvere; oratorii domum, et cuncta ad cultum ipsius pertinentia, sub sua cura conservare ; lectioni, orationi, missarum celebrationi, psalmisque canendis invigilare.”8 The canon then proceeds to some particular duties in the case of priests attached to monasteries : and is followed by several other canons of no little interest, to which I must be content to refer the student. Extracting one particular only: namely that priests were to learn and be able to expound, in the vulgar tongue, the solemn part of the Liturgy: not only the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, “sed et sacrosancta quoque verba, quæ in missæ celebratione, et officio baptismi solenniter

7 Wilkins. Conc. tom. 2. p. 170. 8 Ibid. tom. 1.

P.

96.

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