Dear Brethren in Christ,
Is not the title "permanent," when used as part of any ecclesiastical title, in fact a misnomer? What rank is permanent (besides maybe Patriarch)? Even in the Latin Church a “Permanent Deacon” is not absolutely prevented from one day becoming a priest (or even bishop)... is he? I understand the idea behind the use of the word "permanent" was to differentiate Latin Church deacons from what was their norm of having "transitional deacons" (i.e., those becoming priests). Perhaps it served a good purpose in the Latin Church until their faithful could get used to the concept of deacons who were not transitional. But now the word “permanent” seems to encourage an inaccurate understanding of the Church’s ecclesiastical ranks -most of which are not permanent.
The ministry of Sub-Deacon in the Armenian tradition is very distinct from that of most Byzantine Churches. In the Armenian Church tradition, sub-deacons are seen as partakers of diaconal ministry. They partake of nearly the identical liturgical service as that of full deacons. These similarities in diaconal service include:
-Sub-Deacons wear the same vestments as full deacons.
-Sub-Deacons regularly serve at the Holy Altar in fulfillment of their diaconal functions.
-Sub-Deacons incense and intone all the litanies of the Divine Liturgy and the various Canonical Services.
-Sub-Deacons regularly fulfill the lead deacon’s duties -including the most solemn moment of the Epiclesis- even if full deacons are present and serving in the Liturgy.
-Sub-Deacons solemnly intone the Holy Gospel on a regular basis
This is why we are commonly called “deacon” even by those of higher ranks. It is b/c we are seen as sharers in diaconal ministry. If interested, I have a short study on sub-deacons in the Armenian Church tradition on my “Soorp Stepanos Deacon’s Page.” http://www.looys.net/stepanos.html
Your brother... Trusting in Christ’s 1st & 2nd Advent,
Ghazaros Geesa-Sargavak / Sub-Deacon Lazarus