In common practise, an [[acolyte]] or [[reader]] can be blessed to act as a subdeacon during services.
The ordained subdeacon has the following duties:
* To assist the bishop when he is presiding, by:
:*Vesting the bishop
:*Operating the veil and the curtain of the Royal Doors
:*Other duties that the bishop may assign
In the absence of a bishop:
* Any of the duties of a [[Reader]]
* Serving in the altar as the head server
* Co-ordinating and leading the serving team
* Training new altar servers
* Care of the altar area, including
:*Cleaning the altar area
:*Looking after the vestments of clergy
:*Looking after the cloths of the Holy Table, including cleaning, mending and changing them according to feasts, fasts and seasons
==Ordination== The ordination to the subdiaconate is performed outside of the altar and in a context other than the Divine Liturgy, as it is a [[ minor orders|minor order]] . During the Sixth Hour, after Psalm 90, the reader who is to be ordained subdeacon is presented to the bishop by two other subdeacons, who first lead him to the nave. There he faces east and makes a prostration before turning to make three prostrations towards the bishop, moving further west after each one. He is then led to stand immediately before the bishop. The subdeacons present the [[orarion|orar]] to the bishop, who blesses it. The ordinand then kisses the orar and the bishop's hand, and the subdeacons vest the ordinand in the orar.
The bishop blesses the ordinand three times with the sign of the Cross upon his head, then lays his right hand upon the ordinand's head and prays the prayer of ordination. The new subdeacon kisses the bishop's right hand and makes a prostration before the bishop, after which the more senior subdeacons drape a towel over his shoulders and present him with a ewer and basin, with which he washes the bishop's hands after the usual manner. The bishop dries his hands and the three subdeacons receive the bishop's blessing and kiss his hands.
The senior subdeacons return to the altar while the new subdeacon, still holding the ewer and basin, stands on the [[ soleas|solea]], facing the icon of the Mother of God and saying particular prayers quietly. The Sixth Hour is completed and the Divine Liturgy continues as usual. The subdeacon remains on the solea until the [[Cherubikon]], when he and two senior subdeacons wash the bishop's hands as usual.
At the Great Entrance, the new subdeacon joins on the very end of the procession, carrying the ewer and basin and, after the commemorations, takes the blessed water to the people so that they may bless themselves with it. He returns to his place on the solea until the end of the [[ Anaphora]], when he re- enters the altar, lays the ewer and basin aside, and joins the other subdeacons.
On occasions when there is a shortage of altar servers, the newly-ordained subdeacon may be required to serve at the Liturgy, in which case the taking of the blessed water to the people may be omitted, and he may be asked not to stay on the solea but rather to assist with serving duties in the altar and at the entrances. This will depend on jurisdictional preferences.
Subdeacons are mentioned in canons with age restrictions (of 20 years of age) and prohibitions on marriage after ordinations (like deacons and priests) - e.g., Apostolic canon 26 - resulting in subdeacons who are generally mature men. A variety of methods of 'getting around' the canons have been employed, from blessing acolytes or readers to vest and act as a subdeacon (for a particular service or permanently), or for reserving the formal ordination service to candidates to the priesthood, or for simply ignoring the canons and permitting subdeacons to marry. However, it should be noted that a 'blessed' subdeacon may not touch the altar or assume other perogatives of ordained subdeacons outside services.
Subdeacons, like readers, are permitted to wear a [[cassock]], although many do so only when attending services; this is done as a sign of his suppression of his own tastes, will and desires, and his canonical obedience to God, his bishop and the liturgical and canonical norms of the Church. In jurisdictions that utilise clergy shirts, subdeacons may wear a clergy shirt without a collar.
During services, the subdeacon is vested in a [[sticharion]] with an [[orarion]] tied around his waist, up over his shoulders (forming an X-shaped cross in back), and with the ends hanging down in front, tucked under the section around the waist in an X-shaped cross. In jurisdictions where acolytes are able to wear orarions, they are distinct from subdeacons in that an acolytes orarion hangs straight down in front.
When there is no bishop present, a subdeacon will take the role of acolyte, assisting the priest during religious services in the [[altar]]. The only exception to this being that a subdeacon is able to touch the table of oblation and the altar when necessary, though he is not able to move between the [[Altar]] and the [[Holy Doors]].