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The Ordination of male deacons

Stage one. Sacramentaries

The ordination of male deacons has been preserved in ancient Sacramentaries [= manuscripts containing the prayers said by the celebrant]. The texts we print and translate on this page are found in six manuscripts:

1. Verona 85 (ca 600 AD)

2. York (ca 732 AD)

3. Cambrai 164 (812 AD)
4. Ottobonianus 313 (ca 840 AD)
5. Reginae 336 (ca 850 AD)

6. Leofric Missal (ca 1050)
[passages specific to the Leonine & Leofric are printed in green]

The prayers are already found in initial form in the oldest known sacramentary, the so-called Leonine, no. 948-951. published by K. Mohlberg, Sacramentarium Veronense, Rome 1960.

The present mss of the 10th cent. is a copy of Egbert’s version of 732.

These three manuscripts were copied from the Hadrianum, the model sent by Pope Adrian I to Charlemagne in 786. The text is published by H. A. Wilson, The Gregorian Sacramentary under Charles the Great, London 1915, p. 7-8.

The text was copied from a French exemplar that dated to 920 AD. Published by F. E. Warren, The Leofric missal as used in the Cathedral of Exeter during the episcopate of its first bishop, A.D. 1050-1072, Oxford 1883; here pg. 227.

Stage two. Pontificals

These prayers are preserved as part of a full ordination mass for male deacons in the early Pontificals [= manuscripts containing both prayers and rubrics which set out what to do during the liturgy]. For our comparison we use the following eight Pontificals:

Bamberg 53 (ca 1007)
Monte Cassino 451 (1022)
Vienna 701 (ca 1030)
Lucca 607 (ca 1050)
Vendome 14 (ca 1050)
Vallicella 5 (ca 1060)
Pistoia 141 (ca 1060)
Eichstätt (1073)

These manuscripts contain more or less the same Mass to Ordain (Male) Deacons.

The text has been published by C. Vogel & R. Elze, Le Pontifical Romano-Germanique du Dixième Siècle, Cita del Vaticano 1963, pp. 24-27.

Latin text as found in the ancient Sacramentaries (see above)

Translation by John Wijngaards

The place of these prayers in the pontificals of the 9th – 11th centuries (see above)

Oratio ad ordinandum diaconum(Leofric) Ad faciendum diaconum Prayer to ordain a (male) deaconTo make a (male) deacon
(Leofric) Ad faciendum diaconum To make a (male) deacon
Oratio Prayer Invitation Prayer
Oremus, dilectissimi, deum patrem omnipotentem ut super hunc (hos) famulum(os) suum(os), quem(os) in sacrum ordinem dignatur assumere benedictionis suae gratiam clementer effundat; eique (eisque) donum consecrationis indulgiat, per quod eum(os) ad premia aeterna perducat, auxiliante domino nostro Jesu Christo, qui cum eo vivit et regnat deus; Per. . . Beloved, let us pray that God the Almighty Father may mercifully pour the grace of his blessing [= ordination] over this (these) servant(s) of His whom you deign to receive into holy orders; and grant him (them) the gift of consecration by which He may lead him (them) to eternal rewards, with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you as God. Through. . . The bishop calls on the whole congregation to pray for the candidates.
After this:
“Flectamus Genua!”Everyone kneels.
“Levate!” People rise again.
Alia. Other (prayer)
Exaudi. domine, preces nostras et super hunc (hos) famulum(os) tuum(os) spiritum tuae benedictionis emitte ; ut celesti munere ditatus(ti) et tuae gratiam possit maiestatis adquirere, et bene vivendi aliis exemplum prebere. Per. . .

“Hear, O Lord, our petition and send down on this (these) your servants the Spirit of your ordination so that, since you have conferred on him your heavenly office, he (they) may obtain favour with your majesty and may present to others the example of a good life. Through. . .” First ordination prayer
More information here.
Alia Other (prayer)
Deus, qui es conlator sacrarum magnificus dignitatum ; quesumus ut hunc(os) famulum(os) tuum(os) quem(os) ad officium levitarum vocare dignaris, altaris sancti ministerium tribuas sufficienter implere, cunctisque donis gratiae redundantem, et fidutiam sibi tuae maiestatis adquirere, et aliis prebere facias perfecte devotionis exemplum. Per. . .

“God, who generously confers the sacred dignities, we ask you to ensure that this (these) servant(s) of yours whom you deign to call to the office of levites, may sufficiently fulfil the ministry of the holy altar, and, filled with the many gifts of your grace, may both acquire the trust of your majesty, and give others an example of perfect devotion. Through. . . This prayer, found in the Leonine Sacramentary and the Leofric Missal, is missing in the Gallic Sacramentaries and also in the later Pontificals.
Consecratio Consecration Second ordination prayer, also known as consecration prayer
The bishop says this prayer “in the form of a preface”.

(i)  Adesto, quesumus, omnipotens deus, bonorum dator, ordinum distributor, officiorumque dispositor, qui in te manens innovas omnia, et cuncta disponens per verbum, virtutem, sapientiamque tuam, Jesum Christum, filium tuum, dominum nostrum, sempiterna prouidentia praeparas, et singulis quibusque temporibus aptanda dispensas ; cuius corpus, ecclesiam tuam, coelestium gratiarum uarietate distinctam suorumque discretione membrorum per legem mirabilem totius compagis unitatem in augmentum templi tui crescere dilatarique largiris, sacri muneris servitutem trinis gradibus ministrorum nomini tuo ministrare constituens ; electis ab initio levi filiis qui misticis operationibus domus tuae fidelibus excubiis permanentes, hereditatem benedictionis aeternae, sorte perpetua possiderent, (i) Be present we ask you, o Lord, you giver of all good things, distributor of ranks and assigner of tasks, who while remaining true to yourself renews everything and through your word, power and wisdom arranging everything, prepares in your eternal providence Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, and who fixes everything for each unique moment in time; you, who grant that his (Christ’s) body, your Church, grows and extends distinct in a variety of celestial gifts and a difference of its (the Church’s) members by a marvelous law a unity of coherence into an increase of your temple, stipulating that a service of the sacred task through three degrees of ministers serve your name; having chosen from the beginning the sons of Levi to stay in the inner rooms of your house attending to their mystical tasks, so that they might possess the inheritance of eternal blessing through a perpetual fate. Part i.
Justifies the forthcoming ordination with references to God’s wider scheme of building up the Church and referring to the biblical example of the Levites serving in the Temple of Jerusalem
(ii) super hunc (hos) quoque famulum(los) tuum(os), quesumus placatus intende, quem (quos) tuis sacrariis seruiturum(ros) in officium diaconii suppliciter dedicamus. (ii) look down well disposed on this (these) servant(s) of yours whom we humbly dedicate to the ministry of the diaconate to serve your holy spaces. Part ii.
Indicates the diaconate as the purpose of the ordination.
(iii) Et nos quidem tamquam homines diuini sensus et summe rationis ignari, huius (horum) uitam, quantum possumus, aestimamus. Te autem, domine, ea quae nobis sunt ignota non transeunt. Te occulta non fallunt. Tu cognitor secretorum. Tu scrutator es cordium. Tu eius (eorum) uitam caelesti poteris examinari iudicio, quo semper prevales et amissa purgare, et ea quae sunt agenda concedere. (iii) We who are, indeed, as human beings not aware of divine perception and supreme reason, we assess, to the extent we can, his (their) life. But things unknown to us do not escap you, o Lord. You do not miss what is hidden. You scrutinise secrets of the hearts. You can examine his (their) life with you heavenly judgment through which you are always able to purge what is missing and allow what needs to be done. Part iii.
Humility statement of the celebrant.
(iv) Emitte in eum (eis), domine, quesumus, spiritum sanctum, quo in opus ministerii fideliter exsequendi, septiformis gratiae munere roboretur(rentur) in instar illorum, quos in exordio nascentis ecclesiae apostoli tui adiutores sibi et comites addiderunt. (iv) Send down on his (them) we ask you, o Lord, your Holy Spirit, through whom he (they) be strengthened to fulfil the work of their ministry faithfully with the gift of his sevenfold gracelike those whom at the start of the infant Church the apostles joined to themselves as helpers and companions. Part iv.
Calling down the Holy Spirit on the candidate(s).
(v) Abundet in eo (eis) totius forma uirtutis, auctoritas modesta, pudor constans, innocentiae puritas, et spiritalis obseruatio discipline. In moribus eius (eorum) precepta tua fulgeant, et cum castitatis exemplo imitationem sanctam plebs adquirat ; et bonum conscientiae testimonium proferens (tes) in christo firmus(mi) et stabilis(les) perseueret(rent), dignisque successibus de inferiori gradu per gratiam tuam potiora capere mereatur (antur) . Per Dominum. (v) May the form of every virtue abound in him (them): restrained authority, constant modesty, the purity of innocence and the observance of spiritual discipline. May your precepts shine in (his) their morals, and may the people through their example of chastity obtain holy imitation. And may he (they) carrying the good testimony of conscience, persevere firm and unshakable in Christ, and may he (they) deserve in worthy steps to proceed from the inferior rank through your grace to higher things (ranks). Through our Lord. Part v.
Praying that the newly ordained my live up to their ministry.