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Ordination Rites

For the Ordination of a Deacon

Excerpted from Paul Bradshaw's  Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West (Pages 115-116 for the Apostolic Constitution rite and page 136 for the Byzantine rite.)


Apostolic Constitution

Concerning the ordination of deacons, I Phillip make this constitution: you shall appoint a deacon, O bishop, laying hands on him, all the presbytery and the deacons standing around you, and you shall pray and say:

Almight God, true and faithful, bestowing riches on all who call upon you in truth, fearful of counsels, wise in understanding, powerful and great, hear our prayer, Lord, and give ear to our supplication, and let your face shine on this your servant who is appointed to you for ministry, and fill him with spirit and power, as you filled Stephen the protomartyr and imitator of the sufferings of your Christ. And grant that he, acceptably performing the sacred ministry entrusted to him, steadfastly , blamelessly, and irreporachably, may be worthy of a higher rank through the mediation of your Christ, your only-begotten Son, through whom [be] glory, honor, and worship to you in the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.


Excerpted from Paul Bradshaw F., Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1990), pgs. 115-116



Byzantine Rite

"After the holy oblation has been made and the doors are open, before the deacon says, "All the saints..., he who is to be ordained a deacon is presented to the archbishop, and after "The divine grace" has been said, the ordinand kneels, and the archbishop, making three crosses on his head and laying his hand on him, prays thus:

Lord our God, who by your foreknowledge send down the abundance of your Holy Spirit on those destined by your unsearchable power to be ministers to serve at your immaculate mysteries, Lord, keep this man also, whom you are pleased should be appointed through me to the ministry of the diaconate, in all holiness, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. GIve him the grace which you gave to Stephen your protomartyr, whom you also called first to the work of the diaconate. And make him worthy according to your good pleasure to administer the rank given to him by your goodness - for those serving well gain for themselves a good rank - and make your servant perfect. For yours is the kingdom and the power...

And one of the deacons performs the prayer:

In peace let us pray to the Lord
For the peace from above and the salvation of our souls, to the Lord.
For peace of the whole world.
For our archbishop N., his priesthood, succor, perserverance, peace, and his salvation, and the works of his hands, to the Lord.
For N., now appointed deacon, and his salvation, to the Lord.

That our loving God will bestow on him a spotless and irreporachable diaconate, let us pray...
For our most pious and divinely protected emperor...

And while this prayer is being said by the deacon, the archbishop, holding his hand in the same way on the head of the ordinand, prays thus:

God our Savior, who with an incorruptible voice prophesied to your apostles, and proclaimed that he who fulfilled the work of the diaconate would be first of them, as it is written in your holy gospel: whoever wishes to be first among you, let him be your deacon; you, Lord of all, fill this servant, whom you have deemed worthy to undertake the ministry of a deacon, with all faith and love and power and holiness by the advent of your lifegiving Spirit - for not by the imposition of my hands but by the descent of your abundant mercies is grace given to those worthy of you - so that, free from all sin, he may stand blameless before you on the dreadful day of judgment, and receive the unfailing reward of your promise. For you are our God, God of mercy and salvation...

And after the 'Amen' he takes the phenolion from the newly ordained, and puts on him the orarion, and having given him the kiss, he hands over to him the holy fan, and stands him fanning the holy gifts on the holy table. And then the deacon standing in the ambo says,

Having commemorated all the saints... 

And after the newly ordained has received the holy body and the precious blood , the archbishop gives him the holy cup, and he takes it and distributes the holy blood to those who draw near. This [is what happens] when the complete liturgy is celebrated; but the ordination of deacons and deaconesses may happen both at a complete eucharist and at a Liturgy of Presanctified. When such an ordination happens at a Liturgy of the Presanctified, the chief priest enters and stands before the holy table, and with the ordinand standing near him, says in a loud voice,

The divine grace...

and makes him kneel. And everything according to the aforementioned order up to the dismissal. 



Excerpted from Paul Bradshaw F., Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1990), pg. 136


For the Ordination of a Deaconess

Excerpted from Dr. FitzGerald’s book, Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church. (Pages 59-60 for the Apostolic Constitution ve rite and pages 202-204 for the Byzantine rite.)

The oldest known prayer relating to the ordination of female deacons comes from the Apostolic Constitutions 8:3:20, dating from the end of the fourth century: 

Apostolic Constitution Rite

Concerning a deaconess, I Bartholemew make this constitution: O bishop, you shall lay hands on her in the presence of the presbytery and of the deacons and deaconesses and say:

O Eternal God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and woman, who did replenish with the Spirit Miriam (Ex. 15:20-21) and Deborah (Jg.4-5), and Anna (Lk 2:36) and Huldah (2 Kg.22:14-20); who did not disdain that your only-begotten Son should be born of woman; who also in the tabernacle of the testimony, and in the temple, did ordain women to be guardians of your holy gates; look down now upon this your servant, who is ordained for the diaconate, and grant her your Holy Spirit, cleanse her from all that can defile flesh or spirit, (2 Cor. 7:1) so that she may worthily accomplish the work which is committed to her to your glory, and the praise of your Christ, with whom glory and adoration be to you and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen."


From Paul Bradshaw F., Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1990), pg. 116 


Byzantine Rite

This rite, preserved in manuscripts from the eighth century, was used by the Church of Constantinople. The ordination took place in the sanctuary before the holy altar during the Eucharist, just as it did for the male deacon, presbyter, and bishop. 

After the holy oblation is made, before the opening of the royal gates and before the deacon says, “Having commemorated all the saints. . .” she who is to be ordained is brought before the hierarch, and he recites: 

Byzantine Rite

The Ancient Bidding 

Divine grace (which always heals that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking, ordains [Name], beloved of God, as deacon. Let us pray for her, that the grace of the Holy Spirit may come upon her.) Meanwhile, she bows her head and the bishop places his hand on her head. He makes the sign of the cross three times and prayers the following:

The First Prayer

O God, the Holy and Almighty, who sanctified woman through the birth in the flesh of your only-begotten Son and our God from the Virgin; and bestowed the grace and advent of your Holy Spirit not to men alone, but also to women: look now, Lord, upon this your servant and call her to the work of your diaconate send down upon her the abundant gift of your Holy Spirit. Preserve her in your Orthodox faith, in blameless conduct, always fulfilling her ministry according to your pleasure; because to you is due all honor, glory and worship, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. . .Amen

The Litany of Peace

After the “Amen” one of the deacons prays the following: 

In peace let us pray to the Lord. For the peace from above and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord. For the peace of the whole world, let us pray to the Lord. For our archbishop N. and for his priesthood, assistance, maintenance, peace, health, salvation and the work of his hands, let us pray to the Lord. For she who is now being ordained deaconess and for her salvation, let us pray to the Lord. That God, who loves humankind, will bestow upon her the grace for a spotless and irreproachable diaconate, let us pray to the Lord. For our pious and God-favored emperor, (let us pray to the Lord.) For our deliverance (from all tribulation, wrath, danger and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.)

Help us, save us, (have mercy upon us and keep us, O God, by Your grace). And while this prayer is being said by the deacon, the bishop, still keeping his hand in the same position upon the head of the woman being ordained, prays as follows:

The Second Prayer

Sovereign Lord, who does not reject women offering themselves and desiring to minister in your holy houses, in accordance with what is fitting, but rather receives them into an order of ministers; bestow the grace of your Holy Spirit also upon this your servant who desires to offer herself to you, and fill her with the grace of the diaconate just as you gave the grace of your diaconate to Phoebe whom you called to the work of ministry. O God, grant that she may persevere blamelessly in your holy temples, to cultivate appropriate conduct, especially, prudence; and make your servant perfect so that she, standing at the judgment seat of your Christ, may receive the worthy reward of her good conduct. Through the mercy and love for humanity of your only-begotten Son, with whom you are blessed, together with your all-holy, good and life giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Concluding Actions 

After the “Amen,” he (the bishop) places the diaconal orarion around her neck under the maphorion, bringing the two ends forward. The deacons then stands on the ambon and says:

Having commemorated all the saints...

After she has communed of the holy body and holy blood, the archbishop gives her the holy chalice, which she accepts and replaces on the holy altar.

From Paul Bradshaw F., Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1990),  pgs. 137-139