QUESTION 37: OF THE DISTINCTION OF ORDERS, OF THEIR ACTS, AND THE IMPRINTING OF THE CHARACTER
In the next place we must consider the distinction of the orders and
their acts, and the imprinting of the character. Under this head there
are five points of inquiry:
(1) Whether Order should be divided into several kinds?
(2) How many are there?
(3) Whether they ought to be divided into those that are sacred and
those that are not?
(4) Whether the acts of the Orders are rightly assigned in the text?
(5) When are the characters of the Orders imprinted?
Article 1: Whether we ought to distinguish several Orders?
Objection 1: It would seem that we ought not to distinguish several Orders.
For the greater a power is, the less is it multiplied. Now this sacrament
ranks above the others in so far as it places its recipients in a degree
above other persons. Since then the other sacraments are not divided into
several of which the whole is predicated, neither ought this sacrament to
be divided into several Orders.
Objection 2: Further, if it be divided, the parts of the division are either
integral or subjective. But they are not integral, for then the whole
would not be predicated of them. Therefore it is a division into
subjective parts. Now subjective parts can have the remote genus
predicated of them in the plural in the same way as the proximate genus;
thus man and ass are several animals, and are several animated bodies.
Therefore also priesthood and diaconate, as they are several Orders, even
so are several sacraments, since sacrament is the genus, so to speak, in
respect of Orders.
Objection 3: Further, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. viii, 10) the form
of authority in which one alone governs is a better government of the
common weal than aristocracy, where different persons occupy different
offices. But the government of the Church should be the best of all.
Therefore in the Church there should be no distinction of Orders for
different acts, but the whole power should reside in one person; and
consequently there ought to be only one Order.
On the contrary, The Church is Christ's mystical body, like to our
natural body, according to the Apostle (Rm. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12,27; Eph. 1:22,23; Col. 1:24). Now in the natural body there are various offices of
the members. Therefore in the Church also there should be various Orders.
Further, the ministry of the New Testament is superior to that of the
Old Testament (2 Cor. 3). Now in the Old Testament not only the priests,
but also their ministers, the Levites, were consecrated. Therefore
likewise in the New Testament not only the priests but also their
ministers should be consecrated by the sacrament of Order; and
consequently there ought to be several Orders.
I answer that, Multiplicity of Orders was introduced into the Church for
three reasons. First to show forth the wisdom of God, which is reflected
in the orderly distinction of things both natural and spiritual. This is
signified in the statement of 3 Kgs. 10:4, that "when the queen of
Saba saw . . . the order of" Solomon's "servants . . . she had no longer
any spirit in her," for she was breathless from admiration of his wisdom.
Secondly, in order to succor human weakness, because it would be
impossible for one man, without his being heavily burdened, to fulfill
all things pertaining to the Divine mysteries; and so various orders are
severally appointed to the various offices; and this is shown by the Lord
giving Moses seventy ancients to assist him. Thirdly, that men may be
given a broader way for advancing (to perfection), seeing that the
various duties are divided among many men, so that all become the
co-operators of God; than which nothing is more God-like, as Dionysius
says (Eccl. Hier. iii).
Reply to Objection 1: The other sacraments are given that certain effects may be
received; but this sacrament is given chiefly that certain acts may be
performed. Hence it behooves the sacrament of Order to be differentiated
according to the diversity of acts, even as powers are differentiated by
Reply to Objection 2: The division of Order is not that of an integral whole into
its parts, nor of a universal whole, but of a potential whole, the nature
of which is that the notion of the whole is found to be complete in one
part, but in the others by some participation thereof. Thus it is here:
for the entire fulness of the sacrament is in one Order, namely the
priesthood, while in the other sacraments there is a participation of
Order. And this is signified by the Lord saying (Num. 11:17): "I will
take of thy spirit and give to them, that they may bear with thee the
burden of the people." Therefore all the Orders are one sacrament.
Reply to Objection 3: In a kingdom, although the entire fulness of power resides
in the king, this does not exclude the ministers having a power which is
a participation of the kingly power. It is the same in Order. In the
aristocratic form of government, on the contrary, the fulness of power
resides in no one, but in all.
Article 2: Whether there are seven Orders?
Objection 1: It would seem that there are not seven Orders. For the Orders of
the Church are directed to the hierarchical acts. But there are only
three hierarchical acts, namely "to cleanse, to enlighten, and to
perfect," for which reason Dionysius distinguishes three Orders (Eccl.
Hier. v). Therefore there are not seven.
Objection 2: Further, all the sacraments derive their efficacy and
authenticity from their institution by Christ, or at least by His
apostles. But no mention except of priests and deacons is made in the
teaching of Christ and His apostles. Therefore seemingly there are no
Objection 3: Further, by the sacrament of Order a man is appointed to dispense
the other sacraments. But there are only six other sacraments. Therefore
there should be only six Orders.
Objection 4: On the other hand, It would seem that there ought to be more. For the higher a power is, the less is it subject to multiplication. Now the hierarchical power is in the angels in a higher way than in us, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. i). Since then there are nine Orders in the angelic hierarchy, there should be as many, or more, in the Church.
Objection 5: Further, the prophecy of the Psalms is the most noble of all the
prophecies. Now there is one Order, namely of readers, for reading the
other prophecies in the Church. Therefore there ought to be another Order
for reading the Psalms, especially since (Decretals, Dist. xxi, cap.
Cleros) the "psalmist" is reckoned as the second Order after the
I answer that, Some show the sufficiency of the orders from their
correspondence with the gratuitous graces which are indicated 1 Cor. 12.
For they say that the "word of wisdom" belongs to the bishop, because he
is the ordainer of others, which pertains to wisdom; the "word of
knowledge" to the priest, for he ought to have the key of knowledge;
"faith" to the deacon, for he preaches the Gospel; the "working of
miracles" to the subdeacon, who sets himself to do deeds of perfection by
the vow of continency; "interpretation of speeches" to the acolyte, this
being signified by the light which he bears; the "grace of healing" to
the exorcist; "diverse kinds of tongues" to the psalmist; "prophecy" to
the reader; and the "discerning of spirits" to the doorkeeper, for he
excludes some and admits others. But this is of no account, for the
gratuitous graces are not given, as the Orders are, to one same man. For
it is written (1 Cor. 12:4): "There are distributions [Douay:
'diversities'] of graces." Moreover the episcopate [*Cf. Question , Article ] and
the office of psalmist are included, which are not Orders. Wherefore
others account for the Orders by likening them to the heavenly hierarchy,
where the Orders are distinguished in reference to cleansing,
enlightening, and perfecting. Thus they say that the doorkeeper cleanses
outwardly, by separating even in the body the good from the wicked; that
the acolyte cleanses inwardly, because by the light which he bears, he
signifies that he dispels inward darkness; and that the exorcist cleanses
both ways, for he casts out the devil who disturbs a man both ways. But
enlightening, which is effected by teaching, is done by readers as
regards prophetic doctrine; by subdeacons as to apostolic doctrine; and
by deacons as to the gospel doctrine; while ordinary perfection, such as
the perfection of Penance, Baptism, and so forth is the work of the
priest; excellent perfection, such as the consecration of priests and
virgins, is the work of the bishop; while the most excellent perfection
is the work of the Sovereign Pontiff in whom resides the fulness of
authority. But this again is of no account; both because the orders of
the heavenly hierarchy are not distinguished by the aforesaid
hierarchical actions, since each of them is applicable to every Order;
and because, according to Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. v), perfecting belongs
to the bishops alone, enlightening to the priests, and cleansing to all
the ministers. Wherefore others suit the orders to the seven gifts, so
that the priesthood corresponds to the gift of wisdom, which feeds us
with the bread of life and understanding, even as the priest refreshes us
with the heavenly bread; fear to the doorkeeper, for he separates us from
the wicked; and thus the intermediate Orders to the intermediate gifts.
But this again is of no account, since the sevenfold grace is given in
each one of the Orders. Consequently we must answer differently by saying
that the sacrament of Order is directed to the sacrament of the
Eucharist, which is the sacrament of sacraments, as Dionysius says (Eccl.
Hier. iii). For just as temple, altar, vessels, and vestments need to be
consecrated, so do the ministers who are ordained for the Eucharist; and
this consecration is the sacrament of Order. Hence the distinction of
Orders is derived from their relation to the Eucharist. For the power of
Order is directed either to the consecration of the Eucharist itself, or
to some ministry in connection with this sacrament of the Eucharist. If
in the former way, then it is the Order of priests; hence when they are
ordained, they receive the chalice with wine, and the paten with the
bread, because they are receiving the power to consecrate the body and
blood of Christ. The co-operation of the ministers is directed either to
the sacrament itself, or to the recipients. If the former, this happens
in three ways. For in the first place, there is the ministry whereby the
minister co-operates with the priest in the sacrament itself, by
dispensing, but not by consecrating, for this is done by the priest
alone; and this belongs to the deacon. Hence in the text (Sent. iv, D,
24) it is said that it belongs to the deacon to minister to the priests
in whatever is done in Christ's sacraments, wherefore he dispenses
Christ's blood. Secondly, there is the ministry directed to the disposal
of the sacramental matter in the sacred vessels of the sacrament. and
this belongs to subdeacons. Wherefore it is stated in the text (Sent. iv,
D, 24) that they carry the vessels of our Lord's body and blood, and
place the oblation on the altar; hence, when they are ordained, they
receive the chalice, empty however, from the bishop's hands. Thirdly,
there is the ministry directed to the proffering of the sacramental
matter, and this belongs to the acolyte. For he, as stated in the text
(Sent. iv, D, 24), prepares the cruet with wine and water; wherefore he
receives an empty cruet. The ministry directed to the preparation of the
recipients can be exercised only over the unclean, since those who are
clean are already apt for receiving the sacraments. Now the unclean are
of three kinds, according to Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. iii). For some are
absolute unbelievers and unwilling to believe; and these must be
altogether debarred from beholding Divine things and from the assembly of
the faithful; this belongs to the doorkeepers. Some, however, are willing
to believe, but are not as yet instructed, namely catechumens, and to the
instruction of such persons the Order of readers is directed, who are
therefore entrusted with the reading of the first rudiments of the
doctrine of faith, namely the Old Testament. But some are believers and
instructed, yet lie under an impediment through the power of the devil,
namely those who are possessed: and to this ministry the order of
exorcists is directed. Thus the reason and number of the degrees of
Orders is made clear.
Reply to Objection 1: Dionysius is speaking of the orders not as sacraments, but
as directed to hierarchical actions. Wherefore he distinguishes three
Orders corresponding to those actions. The first of these Orders, namely
the bishop, has all three actions; the second, namely the priest, has
two; while the third has one, namely to cleanse; this is the deacon who
is called a minister: and under this last all the lower Orders are
comprised. But the Orders derive their sacramental nature from their
relation to the greatest of the sacraments, and consequently the number
of Orders depends on this.
Reply to Objection 2: In the early Church, on account of the fewness of
ministers, all the lower ministries were entrusted to the deacons, as
Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iii), where he says: "Some of the ministers
stand at the closed door of the Church, others are otherwise occupied in
the exercise of their own order; others place the sacred bread and the
chalice of benediction on the altar and offer them to the priests."
Nevertheless all the power to do all these things was included in the one
power of the deacon, though implicitly. But afterwards the Divine worship
developed, and the Church committed expressly to several persons that
which had hitherto been committed implicitly in one Order. This is what
the Master means, when He says in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24) that the
Church instituted other Orders.
Reply to Objection 3: The orders are directed to the sacrament of the Eucharist
chiefly, and to the other sacraments consequently, for even the other
sacraments flow from that which is contained in that sacrament. Hence it
does not follow that the orders ought to be distinguished according to
Reply to Objection 4: The angels differ specifically [*Cf. FP, Question , Article ]: for
this reason it is possible for them to have various modes of receiving
Divine things, and hence also they are divided into various hierarchies.
But in men there is only one hierarchy, because they have only one mode
of receiving Divine things, which results from the human species, namely
through the images of sensible objects. Consequently the distinction of
orders in the angels cannot bear any relation to a sacrament as it is
with us, but only a relation to the hierarchical actions which among them
each Order exercises on the Orders below. In this respect our Orders
correspond to theirs; since in our hierarchy there are three Orders,
distinguished according to the three hierarchical actions, even as in
each angelic hierarchy.
Reply to Objection 5: The office of psalmist is not an Order, but an office
annexed to an Order. For the psalmist is also styled precentor because
the psalms are recited with chant. Now precentor is not the name of a
special Order, both because it belongs to the whole choir to sing, and
because he has no special relation to the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Since, however, it is a particular office, it is sometimes reckoned among
the Orders, taking these in a broad sense.
Article 3: Whether the Order should be divided into those that are sacred and those that are not?
Objection 1: It would seem that the Orders ought not to be divided into those
that are sacred and those that are not. For all the Orders are
sacraments, and all the sacraments are sacred. Therefore all the Orders
Objection 2: Further, by the Orders of the Church a man is not appointed to
any other than Divine offices. Now all these are sacred. Therefore all
the Orders also are sacred.
On the contrary, The sacred Orders are an impediment to the contracting
of marriage and annul the marriage that is already contracted. But the
four lower orders neither impede the contracting nor annul the contract.
Therefore these are not sacred Orders.
I answer that, An Order is said to be sacred in two ways. First, in
itself, and thus every order is sacred, since it is a sacrament.
Secondly, by reason of the matter about which it exercises an act, and
thus an Order is called sacred, if it exercises an act about some
consecrated thing. In this sense there are only three sacred Orders,
namely the priesthood and diaconate, which exercise an act about the
consecrated body and blood of Christ, and the subdiaconate, which
exercises an act about the consecrated vessels. Wherefore continency is
enjoined them, that they who handle holy things may themselves be holy
This suffices for the Replies to the Objections.
Article 4: Whether the acts of the Orders are rightly assigned in the text?
Objection 1: It would seem that the acts of the Orders are not rightly
assigned in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24). Because a person is prepared by
absolution to receive Christ's body. Now the preparation of the
recipients of a sacrament belongs to the lower Orders. Therefore
absolution from sins is unfittingly reckoned among the acts of a priest.
Objection 2: Further, man is made like to God immediately in Baptism, by
receiving the character which causes this likeness. But prayer and the
offering of oblations are acts directed immediately to God. Therefore
every baptized person can perform these acts, and not priests alone.
Objection 3: Further, different Orders have different acts. But it belongs to
the subdeacon to place the oblations on the altar, and to read the
epistle; and subdeacons carry the cross before the Pope. Therefore these
acts should not be assigned to the deacon.
Objection 4: Further, the same truth is contained in the Old and in the New
Testament. But it belongs to the readers to read the Old Testament.
Therefore it should belong to them likewise, and not to deacons, to read
the New Testament.
Objection 5: Further, the apostles preached naught else but the gospel of
Christ (Rm. 1:15). But the teaching of the apostles is entrusted to
subdeacons to be read by them. Therefore the Gospel teaching should be
Objection 6: Further, according to Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. v) that which
belongs to a higher Order should not be applicable to a lower Order. But
it is an act of subdeacons to minister with the cruets. Therefore it
should not be assigned to acolytes.
Objection 7: Further, spiritual actions should rank above bodily actions. But
the acolyte's act is merely corporeal. Therefore the exorcist has not the
spiritual act of casting out devils, since he is of inferior rank.
Objection 8: Further, things that have most in common should be placed beside
one another. Now the reading of the Old Testament must needs have most in
common with the reading of the New Testament, which latter belongs to the
higher ministers. Therefore the reading of the Old Testament should be
reckoned the act, not of the reader, but rather of the acolyte;
especially since the bodily light which the acolytes carry signifies the
light of spiritual doctrine.
Objection 9: Further, in every act of a special Order, there should be some
special power, which the person ordained has to the exclusion of other
persons. But in opening and shutting doors the doorkeeper has no special
power that other men have not. Therefore this should not be reckoned
I answer that, Since the consecration conferred in the sacrament of
orders is directed to the sacrament of the Eucharist, as stated above
(Article ), the principal act of each order is that whereby it is most nearly
directed to the sacrament of the Eucharist. In this respect, too, one
order ranks above another, in so far as one act is more nearly directed
to that same sacrament. But because many things are directed to the
Eucharist, as being the most exalted of the sacraments, it follows not
unfittingly that one Order has many acts besides its principal act, and
all the more, as it ranks higher, since a power extends to the more
things, the higher it is.
Reply to Objection 1: The preparation of the recipients of a sacrament is
twofold. One is remote and is effected by the ministers: another is
proximate, whereby they are rendered apt at once for receiving the
sacraments. This latter belongs to priests, since even in natural things
matter receives from one and the same agent both the ultimate disposition
to the form, and the form itself. And since a person acquires the
proximate disposition to the Eucharist by being cleansed from sin, it
follows that the priest is the proper minister of all those sacraments
which are chiefly instituted for the cleansing of sins, namely Baptism,
Penance, and Extreme Unction.
Reply to Objection 2: Acts are directed immediately to God in two ways; in one
way on the part of one person only, for instance the prayers of
individuals, vows, and so forth: such acts befit any baptized person. In
another way on the part of the whole Church, and thus the priest alone
exercises acts immediately directed to God; because to impersonate the
whole Church belongs to him alone who consecrates the Eucharist, which is
the sacrament of the universal Church.
Reply to Objection 3: The offerings made by the people are offered through the
priest. Hence a twofold ministry is necessary with regard to offerings.
One on the part of the people: and this belongs to the subdeacon who
receives the offerings from the people and places them on the altar or
offers them to the deacon. the other is on the part of the priest, and
belongs to the deacon, who hands the offerings to the priest. This is the
principal act of both Orders, and for this reason the deacon's Order is
the higher. But to read the epistle does not belong to a deacon, except
as the acts of lower Orders are ascribed to the higher; and in like
manner to carry the cross. Moreover, this depends on the customs of
Churches, because in secondary acts it is not unfitting for customs to
Reply to Objection 4: Doctrine is a remote preparation for the reception of a
sacrament; wherefore the announcement of doctrine is entrusted to the
ministers. But the doctrine of the Old Testament is more remote than that
of the New Testament, since it contains no instruction about this
sacrament except in figures. Hence announcing of the New Testament is
entrusted to the higher ministers, and that of the Old Testament to the
lower ministers. Moreover the doctrine of the New Testament is more
perfect as delivered by our Lord Himself, than as made known by His
apostles. Wherefore the Gospel is committed to deacons and the Epistle to
This suffices for the Reply to the Fifth Objection.
Reply to Objection 6: Acolytes exercise an act over the cruet alone, and not over
the contents of the cruet; whereas the subdeacon exercises an act over
the contents of the cruet, because he handles the water and wine to the
end that they be put into the chalice,* and again he pours the water over
the hands of the priest; and the deacon, like the subdeacon, exercises an
act over the chalice only, not over its contents, whereas the priest
exercises an act over the contents. [*The wording of St. Thomas is
sufficiently vague to refer either to the Roman rite, where the priest
pours the wine and water into the chalice, or to the Dominican rite,
where this is done by the subdeacon.] Wherefore as the subdeacon at his
ordination receives an empty chalice, while the priest receives a full
chalice, so the acolyte receives an empty cruet, but the subdeacon a full
one. Thus there is a certain connection among the Orders.
Reply to Objection 7: The bodily acts of the acolyte are more intimately
connected with the act of Holy orders than the act of the exorcist,
although the latter is, in a fashion, spiritual. For the acolytes
exercise a ministry over the vessels in which the sacramental matter is
contained, as regards the wine, which needs a vessel to hold it on
account of its humidity. Hence of all the minor orders the Order of
acolytes is the highest.
Reply to Objection 8: The act of the acolyte is more closely connected with the
principal acts of the higher ministers, than the acts of the other minor
Orders, as is self-evident; and again as regards the secondary acts
whereby they prepare the people by doctrine. For the acolyte by bearing a
light represents the doctrine of the New Testament in a visible manner,
while the reader by his recital represents it differently, wherefore the
acolyte is of higher rank. It is the same with the exorcist, for as the
act of the reader is compared with the secondary act of the deacon and
subdeacon, so is the act of the exorcist compared with the secondary act
of the priest, namely to bind and to loose, by which man is wholly freed
from the slavery of the devil. This, too, shows the degrees of Order to
be most orderly. since only the three higher Orders co-operate with the
priest in his principal act which is to consecrate the body of Christ,
while both the higher and lower Orders co-operate with him in his
secondary act, which is to loose and bind.
Reply to Objection 9: Some say that in receiving the Order the doorkeeper is
given a Divine power to debar others from entering the Church, even as
Christ had, when He cast out the sellers from the Temple. But this
belongs to a gratuitous grace rather than to a sacramental grace.
Wherefore we should reply that he receives the power to do this by virtue
of his office, although others may do so, but not officially. It is the
case in all the acts of the minor Orders, that they can be lawfully
exercised by others, even though these have no office to that effect:
just as Mass may be said in an unconsecrated building, although the
consecration of a church is directed to the purpose that Mass be said
Article 5: Whether the character is imprinted on a priest when the chalice is handed to him?
Objection 1: It would seem that the character is not imprinted on the priest
at the moment when the chalice is handed to him. For the consecration of
a priest is done by anointing as in Confirmation. Now in Confirmation the
character is imprinted at the moment of anointing; and therefore in the
priesthood also and not at the handing of the chalice.
Objection 2: Further, our Lord gave His disciples the priestly power when He
said (Jn. 20:22,23): "Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins you shall
forgive," etc. Now the Holy Ghost is given by the imposition of hands.
Therefore the character of order is given at the moment of the imposition
Objection 3: Further, as the ministers are consecrated, even so are the
ministers' vestments. Now the blessing alone consecrates the vestments.
Therefore the consecration of the priest also is effected by the mere
blessing of the bishop.
Objection 4: Further, as a chalice is handed to the priest, even so is the
priestly vestment. Therefore if a character is imprinted at the giving of
the chalice, so likewise is there at the giving of the chasuble, and thus
a priest would have two characters: but this is false.
Objection 5: Further, the deacon's order is more closely allied to the
priest's Order than is the subdeacon's. But if a character is imprinted
on the priest at the moment of the handing of the chalice, the subdeacon
would be more closely allied to the priest than the deacon; because the
subdeacon receives the character at the handing of the chalice and not
the deacon. Therefore the priestly character is not imprinted at the
handing of the chalice.
Objection 6: Further, the Order of acolytes approaches nearer to the priestly
act by exercising an act over the cruet than by exercising an act over
the torch. Yet the character is imprinted on the acolytes when they
receive the torch rather than when they receive the cruet, because the
name of acolyte signifies candle-bearer. Therefore the character is not
imprinted on the priest when he receives the chalice.
On the contrary, The principal act of the priest's Order is to
consecrate Christ's body. Now he receives the power to this effect at the
handing of the chalice. Therefore the character is imprinted on him then.
I answer that, As stated above (Article , ad 1), to cause the form and to
give the matter its proximate preparation for the form belong to the same
agent. Wherefore the bishop in conferring orders does two things; for he
prepares the candidates for the reception of orders, and delivers to them
the power of order. He prepares them, both by instructing them in their
respective offices and by doing something to them, so that they may be
adapted to receive the power. This preparation consists of three things,
namely blessing, imposition of hands, and anointing. By the blessing they
are enlisted in the Divine service, wherefore the blessing is given to
all. By the imposition of hands the fulness of grace is given, whereby
they are qualified for exalted duties, wherefore only deacons and priests
receive the imposition of hands, because they are competent to dispense
the sacraments, although the latter as principal dispensers, the former
as ministers. But by the anointing they are consecrated for the purpose
of handling the sacrament, wherefore the anointing is done to the priests
alone who touch the body of Christ with their own hands; even as a
chalice is anointed because it holds the blood, and the paten because it
holds the body.
The conferring of power is effected by giving them something pertaining
to their proper act. And since the principal act of a priest is to
consecrate the body and blood of Christ, the priestly character is
imprinted at the very giving of the chalice under the prescribed form of
Reply to Objection 1: In Confirmation there is not given the office of exercising
an act on an exterior matter, wherefore the character is not imprinted in
that sacrament at the handing of some particular thing, but at the mere
imposition of hands and anointing. But it is otherwise in the priestly
Order, and consequently the comparison fails.
Reply to Objection 2: Our Lord gave His disciples the priestly power, as regards
the principal act, before His passion at the supper when He said: "Take
ye and eat" (Mt. 26:26), wherefore He added: "Do this for a commemoration
of Me" (Lk. 22:19). After the resurrection, however, He gave them the
priestly power, as to its secondary act, which is to bind and loose.
Reply to Objection 3: Vestments require no other consecration except to be set
aside for the Divine worship, wherefore the blessing suffices for their
consecration. But it is different with those who are ordained, as
Reply to Objection 4: The priestly vestment signifies, not the power given to the
priest, but the aptitude required of him for exercising the act of that
power. Wherefore a character is imprinted neither on the priest nor on
anyone else at the giving of a vestment.
Reply to Objection 5: The deacon's power is midway between the subdeacon's and
the priest's. For the priest exercises a power directly on Christ's body,
the subdeacon on the vessels only, and the deacon on Christ's body
contained in a vessel. Hence it is not for him to touch Christ's body,
but to carry the body on the paten, and to dispense the blood with the
chalice. Consequently his power, as to the principal act, could not be
expressed, either by the giving of the vessel only, or by the giving of
the matter; and his power is expressed as to the secondary act alone, by
his receiving the book of the Gospels, and this power is understood to
contain the other; wherefore the character is impressed at the handing of
Reply to Objection 6: The act of the acolyte whereby he serves with the cruet
ranks before his act of carrying the torch; although he takes his name
from the secondary act, because it is better known and more proper to
him. Hence the acolyte receives the character when he is given the cruet,
by virtue of the words uttered by the bishop.