The Secular religious hierarchy in medieval timesThis hierarchy is explained below in descending order. Take a look:
- The Pope – Head of the medieval era religious hierarchy.
- Archbishops – They worked according to the instructions of the Pope.
- Major Orders – This social group incorporated three more sub groups acting on the command of the archbishops. These were –
- Minor Orders – This group formulated the lowest
level of Secular religious hierarchy in medieval times. These were of
four sub divisions described as below –
- Men studying at the Church Schools
The Monastic religious hierarchy in medieval timesThis hierarchy is also described below in a systematic descending order. Have a look –
- The Pope – The head of all religious activities in the medieval period.
- Nunneries – These directed according to the guidelines of the Pope.
- Abbot – They performed spiritual rituals for the kingdom but only after having considerations form either Pope or nunneries.
- Prior – A prior always followed abbess for every action.
- Monks – These were the holy priests
- Obedientaries – These were lower level monks. These were further categorized as below –
- Novices – They were quite more like lay brothers but quite more seniors.
- Lay Brother – After completion of monastic schools, the children became lay brothers.
- Oblates – These were children attending monastic schools.
As to the liturgical functions attached to the various minor orders, they are really but a participation, originally rather indefinite, in the liturgical ministry formerly administered entirely by deacons. This explains why minor orders differ in the Latin Church and in the various Eastern Churches. This earlier discipline, however, no longer reflects modern custom and law. In 1972, Pope Paul VI replaced the term "minor orders" with that of "ministries". Two of what were called minor orders, the reader and acolyte, were kept though national episcopal conferences were free to use the term "subdeacon" in place of that of "acolyte". Candidates for the diaconate and for priesthood were required to have received both ministries and exercise them for some time before receiving holy orders.
Okay, my point in this rather long post. After the Reformation, we forgot all about these minor orders or ministries. Maybe it is time for us to reconsider. No, I am not advocating for changing the Lutheran history of one ordination to one office, the office of pastor, nor am I advocating that we willy nilly jump in and begin it all anew. What I am suggesting is that we can create and define offices, not really clergy but not really lay, to fulfill specific functions, not to compete with the Office of the Pastor, not to substitute for the Pastor, and not responsible for those things for which only a Pastor is authorized. Perhaps the issues of lay assistants at the altar, lay readers, etc., could best be solved with such ecclesiastical offices, endowed with limited authority and responsibility, requiring adequate training and preparation, and conferred in some churchly way (a consecration with the symbols of that responsibility, for example). Okay, lets get talking. . .