|This article forms part of the series|
|Baptism - Chrismation |
Eucharist - Confession
Marriage - Ordination
|Nepsis - Metanoia |
Hesychia - Phronema
Mysticism - Nous
|Chastity - Obedience |
Stability - Fasting
Poverty - Monasticism
|Humility - Generosity |
Chastity - Meekness
Temperance - Contentment
|Worship - Veneration |
Prayer Rule - Jesus Prayer
Relics - Sign of the Cross
|Apostolic Fathers |
The Ladder of Divine Ascent
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Ordination is the sacrament (or one of the holy mysteries) of holy orders. The Greek word used for ordination is cheirotonia, which means "the laying on of hands." Members of the major orders—bishop, priest, and deacon—are ordained during the Divine Liturgy by the bishop, who is usually assisted by several priests. According to Orthodox teaching, the process of ordination begins with the local congregation; but the bishop alone, who acts in the name of the universal Church, can complete the action.
Those who are placed into the minor orders (subdeacon, reader, and in some traditions, cantor) are done so by cheirothesia, which also means "laying on of hands," but has come to be a technically distinct term from cheirotonia, which is used only for the major orders. According to the DEC, cheirothesia is not regarded as part of the Holy Mystery of ordination (p. 117).
Cheirotonia and cheirothesia formerly were used almost interchangeably, but came to acquire distinct meanings. Bishops are also referred to as being "consecrated" rather than "ordained," but such a distinction was not present in the early Church (ODCC, p. 1189)
Subdeacons are ordained during the Divine Liturgy immediately before "Blessed is the Kingdom", once the Great Censing has been completed. According to the canons, no one should marry after becoming a subdeacon, but the practice has almost universally changed to allow subdeacons to marry after being made subdeacons.
During the service of ordination to the priesthood, a priest leads the candidate, then kneels and rests his head on the altar. The bishop puts his stole and right hand over the candidate's head as the candidate receives the Holy Spirit. The entire congregation witnesses the ordination and proclaims its consent by shouting in unison "Axios!" (Greek word meaning 'worthy'). The bishop bestows sacred vestments on the new priest, who receives communion and recites a special prayer. Through ordination, men who have been chosen from within the Church are set apart by the Church for special service to the Church. Much of the time, a candidate for ordination will pursue preparatory studies at a seminary.
Candidates for the episcopacy are consecrated by three bishops (or at the very least two) to be bishops. A bishop's non-liturgical vestments include the kamilavka and epanokameloukion (veil) (which are joined together as the klobuk in the Russian tradition), along with the mantiya, all of which are monastic garments.
- Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (DEC), p. 117
- Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (ODCC), 3rd ed., pp. 1188-89