The Ordination of a Deacon

The following text is being made available for study by cantors enrolled in the courses of the Metropolican Cantor Institute. It was promulgated and published by the Council of Hierarchs of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh in 2013.

In the Divine Liturgy after “May the mercies” is intoned at the end of the Anaphora (or at the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts before the Angel of Peace Litany), the subdeacons bring out the bishop’s chair and place it before the holy table a little to the left so that his back will not be to the Holy Mysteries.  The bishop sits in the chair and places the crown on his head.  The candidate for the diaconate is led out the northern door by the archdeacon, who carries a cross and dikirion.  In the middle of the church the archdeacon says:

Archdeacon:  By the will of God and by the action of the most holy and life-creating Spirit, by the blessing of [the most reverend Metropolitan (Name) or] our God-loving Bishop (Name), the pious subdeacon (Name) is being promoted to the diaconate. Most Reverend [Arch]Bishop, command him.

When this has been said the candidate makes a prostration.

The bishop responds:

Bishop:  By the command of the Lord the heavens were made, by the Spirit of his mouth all their host.

The archdeacon and the candidate approach a little closer:

Archdeacon:  Bless him, most reverend [Arch]Bishop.

The candidate again makes a prostration.  The bishop says:

Bishop:  May the Lord bless him from Zion, and may he see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of his life.

The archdeacon, standing with the candidate before the holy doors, says:

Archdeacon:  Pray for him, most reverend [Arch]Bishop.

The candidate again makes a prostration.  The bishop says:

Bishop:  May the Holy Spirit come upon him, and the power of the Most High overshadow him.

Then immediately the candidate kisses the bishop’s hand, his epigonation, and his right shoulder, and the bishop says to him:

Bishop:  Christ is among us!

The candidate replies:

Candidate:  He is and will be.

Then the archdeacon leads the candidate around the holy table as the candidate kisses the four corners of the holy table, then, again, the bishop and holy table twice more.

During the first circuit, the following troparion is sung twice, first by those within the sanctuary, then by the faithful:

(Troparion, Tone 7)  O holy martyrs, * you have struggled courageously * and have received your crowns. * Pray to the Lord to have mercy on our souls.

During the second circuit, the following troparion is sung twice, first by those within the sanctuary, then by the faithful:

(Troparion, Tone 7)  Glory to you, O Christ our God, * boast of the apostles * and joy of the martyrs * who proclaimed the Trinity, one in essence.

During the third circuit, the following irmos is sung twice, first by those within the sanctuary, then by the faithful:

(Irmos, Tone 5)  Rejoice, O Isaiah!  The Virgin was with child and bore a Son, Emmanuel.  He is God and Man.  His name is Rising of the Sun.  By extolling him, we bless the Virgin.

Then the bishop rises, and the chair is taken away.  The candidate goes to the right side of the bishop and bows before the holy tab1e three times, each time saying:

Candidate:  O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. (Three times)

The candidate then kneels on his right knee, he lays the palms of his hands on the holy table in the form of a cross, and places his forehead on his hands.

The bishop places the end of his omophorion on the head of the candidate, and blesses him on the head three times.

The archdeacon exclaims:

Archdeacon:  Let us be attentive!

With the omophorion remaining on the candidate’s head, the bishop imposes his right hand on the head of the candidate, saying aloud:

Bishop:  Divine Grace, which always heals what is infirm and supplies what is lacking, ordains the pious Subdeacon (Name) to be a deacon.  Therefore, let us pray for him, that the grace of the all-holy Spirit may come upon him, and let us all say:

The priests on the right side within the sanctuary sing:

Priests:  Lord, have mercy. (Three times)

Then the priests on the left side within the sanctuary sing:

Priests:  Lord, have mercy. (Three times)

Then the faithful on the right side sing:

Response:  Lord, have mercy. (Three times)

Then the faithful on the left side sing:

Response:  Lord, have mercy. (Three times)

The bishop then makes the sign of the cross on the deacon’s head three times, each time saying:

Bishop:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. (Three times)

The archdeacon then intones:

Archdeacon:  Let us pray to the Lord.

The bishop places his hand on the head of the deacon and prays aloud:

Bishop:  Lord our God, by your foreknowledge and unsearchable power, you pour out the abundance of your Holy Spirit on those you ordain, that they may be ministers and servants of your incorruptible mysteries.  O Master, now keep in all holiness this, your servant (Name), whom you have been pleased to promote through me to the service of the diaconate, holding to the mystery of faith in a pure conscience.  Grant him the grace you gave to your first martyr Stephen, whom you called before all others into the service of this ministry.  Make him worthy, according to your good pleasure, to serve well in the office you have given him in your goodness; for those who serve well gain for themselves a good standing.  Show your servant to be perfect in everything.

For yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.

Response:  Amen.

The chair is brought again.  The bishop sits as the archdeacon intones the litany:

Archdeacon:  In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

Response:  Lord, have mercy(The same response is given to each of the following petitions:)

-        For peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

-        For peace in the whole world, for the stability of the holy Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.

-        For our [Arch]Bishop (Name), for his priesthood, and for his protection, perseverance, peace, health, and salvation, and for the works of his hands, let us pray to the Lord.

-        For the servant of God, the Deacon (Name) now ordained, and for his salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

-        That our merciful God may grant him a pure and blameless diaconate, let us pray to the Lord.

-        Protect us, save us, have mercy on us, and preserve us, O God, by Your grace.

-        Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

Response:  To you, O Lord.

The bishop stands and the chair is removed.  The bishop imposes his hand on the deacon and prays aloud:

Bishop:  God our Savior, you established the law of service for your apostles by your incorruptible voice.  You chose the first martyr Stephen as the first deacon.  You proclaimed him the first to fulfill the office of deacon, as it is written in your holy Gospel:  If anyone wishes to be first among you, let him be your servant. Now, Master, fill with all faith, love, power, and holiness this, your servant (Name), whom you have made worthy to enter the service of the diaconate by the coming of your holy and life-creating Spirit.  For it is not by the laying on of my hands, but by the visitation of your abundant mercies, that grace is given to those worthy before you.  Grant that he, being free from all sin, may stand blamelessly before you and receive the unfailing reward of your promise.

For you are our God, and we give glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.

Response:  Amen.

Then the deacon is helped up and his orarion is removed.  The bishop takes the orarion.  The deacon kisses the orarion and the bishop’s right hand, and the bishop places the orarion on the deacon’s left shoulder, saying in a loud voice:

Bishop:  Axios!

Then those within the sanctuary sing:

Clergy:  Axios!  Axios!  Axios!

Then the same is sung by the faithful:

Response:  Axios!  Axios!  Axios!

Then the bishop takes the censer.  The deacon kisses the censer and the bishop’s right hand, and the bishop gives him the censer, saying in a loud voice:

Bishop:  Axios!

Then those within the sanctuary sing:

Clergy:  Axios!  Axios!  Axios!

Then the same is sung by the faithful:

Response:  Axios!  Axios!  Axios!

Then the bishop takes the ripidion.  The deacon kisses the ripidion and the bishop’s right hand, and the bishop gives him the ripidion, saying in a loud voice:

Bishop:  Axios!

Then those within the sanctuary sing:

Clergy:  Axios!  Axios!  Axios!

Then the same is sung by the faithful:

Response:  Axios!  Axios!  Axios!

 The newly ordained deacon then kisses the bishop on the shoulder, and stands to the left of the holy table fanning the gifts with the small ripidion (or small veil) until “Holy gifts to holy people” is intoned.  After the ordination, the bishop removes his crown.  The newly ordained deacon receives Holy Communion before all other deacons.  The newly ordained deacon’s first intonation is “Arise!  Now that we have received.”