On Saturday before the First  Passion Sunday, new subdeacons are usually ordained for  the Society of St. Pius X.  

The role of the subdeacon is to  present the paten and the chalice to the deacon at solemn high  Mass, to pour the water into the  chalice, and to sing the Epistle.  He is also responsible for purifying the sacred linens. 

The ceremonies of the subdiaconate take place as follows:  after the admonition concerning  their definitive commitment,  the ordinands prostrate themselves on the ground, face to the  earth, as a sign of humility and  adoration, as the patriarchs  and the prophets once did. Then 

in unison with all the elect of  Heaven is sung the Litany of the  Saints, that favorite prayer of  the Church in which all of the  meritorious titles and the works  of the God-Man are presented to  the Holy Trinity. This pros- tra tion and this litany precede the  diaconate and the priest- hood  as well. Then the admonition to  the ordinands lists out the functions of the subdeacon. There  follow the tradition of the chalice  and the paten, the prayer for the  new subdeacons, and finally the  imposition of the sacred vest ments and the handing over of  the book of Epistles. 

From the beginning of the  ordination, the bishop warns  the subdeacons that perpetual chastity is imposed upon them  and that no one may be admit ted to this order without the sin cere will to accept celibacy (CIC,  can. 132). In order to allow the  subdeacons to raise their mind  regularly to God, the Church  commands them to recite the  breviary (CIC, can. 135). Their  new state demands of them a  profound spirit of faith and the  practice not only of purity of  body but also of soul. 

The bishop asks for the subdea cons the grace to fulfill their  functions well, along with the  gifts of the Holy Ghost, so that  they might be the watchful  guardians of the altar and of the  holy Host during the sacrifice.  

The ceremonial of the subdiacon ate emphasizes the holiness  of the priesthood, which is an  inward holiness. It finds concrete  expression in the decision to give  oneself totally to Jesus Christ and  to leave the world, to abandon all  the cares of the world. As St. Paul says, he who is ordained “does  not entangle himself in worldly  affairs” (II Tim. 2:4). Of all the orders, the subdiaconate is certainly the one that most emphasizes  this consecration. 

A vibrant call to Holiness The instruction which the bishop  addresses to the subdeacons is a  vibrant call to change their lives:  “If up to now you have had a  

certain somnolence, a certain  indifference in your piety, in  your devotion, in the love of  

God, now you must be vigilant.  If you have been intemperate,  be sober. If you have been too  free, be chaste.” If your faith has  not been very lively up until now,  then from now on you are going  to need to have a lively faith, the  true Catholic faith. 

The Church insists on subdeacons’ having the spirit of faith.  She ends her admonition on that  note. She takes up the extraordinary expression of the Apostle,  “All that is not of faith is sin”  (Rom. 14:23).7 What does the  bishop mean when he speaks  these words to them? He means  that everything which is in the  world draws toward sin. Only the  faith gives the light which saves,  gives the grace that washes us in  the blood of Christ and gives eternal life, through the Sacrament  of Baptism and through the other  sacraments. All that is not tied to the faith ultimately is in the  service of sin, even if there are  natural lights which are still good  in themselves; if they are not ordered toward the faith, if they are  not purified by grace, they cannot  produce acts which are meritorious for eternal life.

God knows we need to hear these  words today. How many people are losing the faith – alas! even among the clergy. How many peo ple today are falling away from  the faith! That is why it is more  necessary than ever that this call  be heard by the subdeacons, so  that they might be truly the lights  which enlighten the world. If up  to that moment they have not  been sufficiently aware of this  necessity of putting Christ in the  center of all things, in the center  of their heart and soul, may they  make that resolution now, at this  point, of placing Jesus every where, for without Him we can  do nothing. He said so Himself:  “Without Me, you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).

“The ceremonial of  the subdiaconate emphasizes the holiness  of the priesthood,  which is an inward holiness.”¨