The Ordination of a Presbyter (Priest)

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 when one is to be ordained a presbyter, the bishop, immediately before the Great Entrance, gives the aer to the priestly candidate who holds it in front of his face.  The second deacon receives the diskos.

When the Cherubikon and Great Entrance have been completed, 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.  The candidate for the presbyterate 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 deacon (Name) is being promoted to the presbyterate. 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 archpriest 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 both knees, 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 archpriest exclaims:

Archpriest:  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 deacon (Name) to be a presbyter.  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 priest’s head three times.

The Archpriest then intones:

Archpriest:  Let us pray to the Lord.

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

Bishop:  God without beginning and end, as you are older than all creation, you have bestowed the name Elder on those found worthy to sanctify the word of your truth in this office.  Now, Master of all, may it please you to make this man worthy, whom you have been pleased for me to ordain, to receive the great grace of your Holy Spirit in a blameless life and unshaken faith, and to be a perfect servant pleasing you in every way.  Grant that he may live worthily in this honored presbyterate given to him by your foreknowing power.

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 archpriest intones the litany:

Archpriest:  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 priest (Name) now ordained, and for his salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

-        That our merciful God may grant him a pure and blameless priesthood, 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 priest and prays aloud:

Bishop:  O God, you are great in power and unsearchable in knowledge, wondrous in your counsels beyond the children of men. O Lord, fill with the gifts of your Holy Spirit this your servant, whom you have been pleased to raise to the order of presbyter, that he may be worthy to stand blamelessly before your holy altar, to proclaim the gospel of your kingdom, to sanctify the word of your truth, to offer you gifts and spiritual sacrifices, and to renew your people by the bath of rebirth. In your great goodness, grant that he may receive the reward of good stewardship in his order, when he will meet the second coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, your only-begotten Son.

For blessed and glorified is your most honored and magnificent name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.

Response:  Amen.

Then the priest is helped up and his orarion is removed.  The bishop takes the epitrachelion.  The priest kisses the epitrachelion and the bishop’s right hand, and the bishop places the epitrachelion on the priest, 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 zone.  The priest kisses the zone and the bishop’s right hand, and the bishop gives him the zone, 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 cuffs.  The priest kisses the cuffs and the bishop’s right hand, and the bishop gives him the cuffs, 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 phelonion.  The priest kisses the phelonion and the bishop’s right hand, and the bishop gives him the phelonion, 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 liturgikon.  The priest kisses the liturgikon and the bishop’s right hand, and the bishop gives him the liturgikon, 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 priest then kisses the bishop on the hand, then leaves and kisses all his concelebrating priests on the shoulder.  He takes the place of the first concelebrating priest.

After the words “Changing them by your Holy Spirit” in the Epiklesis of the Anaphora, the bishop calls the newly ordained priest forward, takes the holy bread (breaking a piece from the upper part of the holy bread, that is, the XC), and gives it to him, saying:

Receive this pledge, and keep it whole and protected to your last breath.  You will give an account for it at the second and fearful coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Taking it, the newly ordained priest kisses the celebrant’s hand, and leaving, stands behind the holy table.  Placing his hand on the holy table, he prays.

When “Holy gifts to holy people” has been intoned, the newly ordained priest gives the holy bread back, and the celebrant places it on the holy diskos.

The newly ordained priest is communicated before the other priests.  He also intones the Ambon Prayer.  Thus, the first public intonation of the newly ordained priest is “Let us go forth in peace.”  There is an ambon prayer particular to the ordination of a presbyter that may be used.