Ushers are not ancillary to the liturgy. Even in the former, minor orders, the ministry of porter was formally acknowledged and given. The porter became the lowest of the four minor orders prescribed by the Council of Trent. This was the first order a seminarian was admitted to after receiving the tonsure. The porter had in ancient times the duty of opening and closing the church-door and of guarding the church; especially of ensuring that no unbaptized persons would enter during the Eucharist. Later on, the porter would also guard, open and close the doors of the sacristy, baptistery and other areas in the church. The porter was not a part of Holy Orders administering sacraments but simply a preparatory job on the way to the Major Orders until its suppression by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council.
Though modern-day ushers are not formally “porters,” they continue to serve that great need within the liturgy of fostering order and security. Indeed, just as we greet guests to our home, make them feel welcome, and tend to their needs, so do ushers perform an indispensable service in making the faithful feel welcome and comfortable as they gather for and depart from Mass every Sabbath and Holy Day of Obligation.
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