Resources - The Armenian Sacrament of
Ordination to the Holy Priesthood
Fr. Daniel Findikyan
Dean and Associate Professor
St. Nersess Armenian Seminary
Dean and Associate Professor
St. Nersess Armenian Seminary
In the morning the bishop shall celebrate the Divine Liturgy. After the Trisagion (Soorp Asdvadz) and the deacon's litany, the bishop shall take his place on his throne to the right of the altar facing the congregation. The candidate, together with his sponsoring priest, shall stand in the chancel.
DEACON: Yev yevus khaghaghootyan uzDer aghachestzook, ungal getzo yev voghormya (Again in peace let us beseech the Lord, receive, save and have mercy.)
BISHOP: Blessing and glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
CHOIR (Hymn): Oorakh Ler (Rejoice, O Holy Church)
CONFIRMATION OF THE CANDIDATE'S WORTHINESS
While Ps 43 is recited (Vindicate me, O God...), the candidate is led on his knees up to the left side of the altar.
SPONSOR: Holy father, our holy mother Church requests that you ordain for us to the priesthood Deacon (Name), who is presented to you.
BISHOP: And do you know if he is worthy, how is his behavior and whether he has wisdom and purity?
SPONSOR: As far as our human weakness allows us, we have ascertained these things and we bear witness that he is worthy to bear the yoke of this order, having purity and wisdom.
BISHOP Makes the sign of the cross: Through the grace of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, I call Deacon (Name) to the priesthood. Let us therefore ask the beneficent God to illuminate him with the gifts of His holiness through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is due glory, dominion and honor, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
DEACON: Yev yevus khaghaghootyan uzDer aghachestzook, ungal getzo yev voghormya. Orhnya Der (Again in peace let us beseech the Lord, receive save and have mercy. Lord, give the blessing).
BISHOP: Blessing and glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The sponsor leads the candidate on his knees before the bishop.
BISHOP (Makes the sign of the cross): May the Lord receive you.
THE PEOPLE CALL THE CANDIDATE FOR ORDINATION
The attending priests now place their hands on the shoulders of the deacon to be ordained.
SPONSOR: Let us again make our supplications to God who loves mankind, for Deacon (Name), who is about to be called to the priesthood; that through the virtue and grace of this calling, and through this imposition of hands, he may be worthy to receive from almighty God the grace of the priesthood. May he save him and have mercy on him.
BISHOP Repeats thirty times: Der voghormya (Lord have mercy). The Bishop places his hand on the head of the candidate and says:
Lord God almighty, creator of all, deliverer, saviour, redeemer and renewer of mankind, who by your infinite beneficence distribute visible and invisible gifts to your Holy Church. Now we beseech your beneficent kindness. Grant to this your servant, Deacon (Name), the grace to receive from almighty God the order of the priesthood, through this calling and this imposition of hands; so that he may be worthy to receive your Holy Spirit, and worthily to receive the gift of supervision; through the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has invited all to the holy vocation to serve God each according to his rank; and by offering praises to glorify the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Peace unto all. Let us bow down before God.
God on high, God inscrutable and miraculous; God merciful and loving; look down upon us and mercifully answer our prayers by your great mercy. You are the God who in the beginning worked wonders for the human race through all manner of gifts. We pray you, heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit and bless Deacon (Name), who comes before your holy altar and has dedicated himself to your service, so that he may receive the order of the priesthood, and become an overseer of your people and share the throne of your apostles. May his name be inscribed in the Book of Life and may he be liberated from the servitude of the enemy. And may we all become children of the heavenly Father and co-heirs with Christ, and may we be worthy of the heavenly kingdom. And giving thanks, may we glorify the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The candidate is led kneeling to the center of the bema, where he presents himself to the people by facing them. In a gesture of humble assent to the people's will, he raises his hands to the side of his head. The following is chanted three times.
CHOIR: Asdvadzayin yev yergnavor shnorh (The divine and heavenly grace that ever satisfies the needs of the holy Apostolic Church [2Cor 9:12] now calls (Name) from the diaconate to the priesthood for the service of the holy Church, according to his own testimony and to that of this congregation).
PEOPLE (respond three times): Arzhani eh (He is worthy).
THE IMPOSITION OF HANDS AND PRAYER OF ORDINATION
Then the candidate turns toward the East and kneels down before the bishop. The attending priests again put their hands on his shoulders, and the bishop, placing his right hand upon his head, says:
BISHOP: The divine and heavenly grace that ever satisfies the needs of the holy Apostolic Church now calls (Name) from the diaconate to the priesthood for the service of the holy Church; according to his own testimony and to that of this congregation. I place my hands upon him. Pray, all of you, that he may be worthy to perform with holiness the duties of the priesthood before the holy altar of the Lord our God.
O Lord God almighty, most merciful and all-provident, creator of all creatures, both visible and invisible; You dwell in the awe-inspiring and unapproachable light; to your all-seeing eyes even the depths of the abysses are manifest. Around you stand the heavenly hosts: the angels and the archangels, the principalities and the powers, the thrones and the dominions, the seraphim and the cherubim; and all the bodiless powers glorify you in triumphant praise.You, Lord of hosts, are all in all and all-possessing. Moved to compassion for the fallen human race by your love of mankind, you set apart for yourself from all humanity a particular people [Titus 2:14], your holy Church, which you called your body and members [1Cor 12:12]. You appointed in her presbyters to shepherd your people.
Hear now, Lord, the voice of our prayers, and keep steadfast in the priesthood to which he has been called this your servant, (Name), whom you have chosen and accepted for the presbyterate, and who has now received the imposition of hands. Grant him a sober heart so that he may observe diligently all your commandments and love you with all his strength, and with all his heart and with all his mind [Lk 10:27]; that he may walk in truth [Ps 86:11] along the way of righteousness [Prov 8:20]; and with pure heart and sincere faith excel in good works [2Cor 8:7] according to your benevolent will. May he remain steadfast and pure before you in the work of the priesthood in the catholic Church, built and founded upon the rock of the faith of the apostles and prophets [Mt 16:18]. May he be a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth [2Tim 2:15], sowing the life-giving and orthodox faith of the apostolic Church to all ears [Mt 13:3-23]. Grant him, Lord, the apostolic grace to remove and drive away from mankind all evil infirmities and impure spirits by the imposition of his hands and by invoking your most powerful name to help and to heal the infirm. May he be worthy to call your Holy Spirit from heaven for the spiritual revival of those who have been regenerated and illuminated by the holy font. Through the Spirit, may they attain the great grace of adoption by you, to become heirs of your heavenly kingdom [Jm 2:5] and a temple of the Holy Spirit [1Cor 6:19]. May he celebrate with faith the awe-inspiring and heavenly mystery of the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of the sins of those who partake of it worthily. And by virtuously conducting all the functions of the priesthood, may he be a glorifier of the Holy Trinity and be rewarded eternal life with the blessed apostles, being counted worthy of the double honor. Through the grace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has invited and called us to his kingdom in glory. With whom to you, Father almighty, together with the life-giving and liberating Holy Spirit is due glory, dominion and honor, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Peace unto all. Let us bow down before God.
Lord of hosts, God powerful and almighty, God of glory and of all honor. You have crowned your saints with glory and honor. You have bestowed on man the gift of prophecy. You granted priestly honor to man. You have chosen the holy apostles and established in the apostolic Church various orders for the maintenance of good discipline. You established in her priests, deacons, worshipers, and teachers, by whom the name of your only-begotten son, Jesus Christ is exalted.
And now enlighten and adorn with the gifts of your Holy Spirit, this, your servant (Name), whom you have chosen to be called to the priesthood. May he live a pure and holy life and serve your holy Church.
Keep these your people free of scandal and all the snares of the evil one. And receiving him by means of a spiritual and holy greeting, may we now glorify in everything the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The bishop himself takes the deacon's stole from the candidate's left shoulder and places it behind his neck over both shoulders, in the form of a priest's stole.
BISHOP: Take the yoke of our Lord Jesus Christ. For his yoke is easy and his burden is light [Mt 11:30].
Psalm 132:9. Alleluia! Alleluia! Your priests shall be clothed with righ-teousness, and your saints shall shout aloud for joy.
Ezekiel 33:7-9.God has appointed a watchman for the house of Israel to admonish the wicked to turn from their iniquitous ways. If he does not do so, the watchman shares the guilt of the transgressor.
Malachi 2:5-7. The lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from him, for he is the messenger of the Lord.
Isaiah 61:1-6. God sends his prophet to bring His hope and healing to those who suffer; comfort to those who mourn; joy to those who are sorrowful; to proclaim a new era of the Lord's favor.
1 Peter 5:1-4. St. Peter exhorts the presbyters of an early Christian community to care for the people of God eagerly, and to be for them an example of humility.
1 Timothy 1:12-17. Timothy thanks the Lord for having been appointed to God's service. He acknowledges that though he is sinner, he has received from Jesus perfect patience so that he might be an example to those who believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life.
The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Luke (4:14-22) Jesus proclaims himself to be the long-awaited savior of the people of Israel, as foretold by the Prophet Isaiah.
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning Him went out through all the surrounding country. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and He went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And He stood up to read; and there was given to Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptible year of the Lord. And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.
They recite the Nicene Creed and the Divine Liturgy continues as usual.
After the offerings have been transferred to the altar, the bishop again sits on his throne and the candidate kneels down before him. The bishop places his right hand on the head of the candidate and says this prayer:
BISHOP: O Lord God of hosts and creator of all things, visible and invisible. You are praised by the fiery hosts, and praised by the seraphim, and by the holy angels and archangels, and bodiless hosts. In your abundant love of mankind you were pleased to receive also the praise of these your earthly creatures, not that we can add anything to your all-perfect dominion, all-powerful God, for you lack nothing. But because of your infinite love for mankind, compassionate Son of the Father, you willingly descended from the Father's bosom to our nature, and put on a body from the holy Virgin, and liberated the human race from the condemnation of the curse of Adam. And by shedding your incorruptible Blood, you pacified heaven and earth, and reconciled the Father with creation. You also chose for yourself a particular people, your holy Church.
And now, beneficent Lord, we beseech your most abundant love of mankind. Receive the supplications of us your people, who are assembled in the temple of the glory of the holiness of your name. And fill with your Holy Spirit this your servant, (Name), whom you have chosen and called to lead these your people, and to serve your holy Church.
Strengthen him in good works, so that he may stand before you leading a pure life, with virtuous works, steadfast in the faith, and so that he may serve before your holy altar, and shepherd your flock with wisdom and righteousness.
Protect him and these your people, Lord, from visible and invisible enemies, so that they may become worthy of your everlasting joy.
And receiving him with a holy and spiritual greeting, may we all give thanks for, and glorify your abundant love of mankind, because of your good favors. And may we attain the everlasting life that you promise. May we be made worthy of this with all your saints through the grace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; to whom, with the Father almighty and the life-giving and liberating Holy Spirit, is befitting glory, dominion and honor, now and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Peace unto all. Let us bow down to God.
Lord almighty and God of all creatures, seated on an immaterial throne, praised and glorified by the unseen and immortal angels, who unceasingly sing to one another the thrice-holy hymn and praise your majestic glory.
Together we your servants supplicate you. Receive our prayers and concede to us your abundant mercy. And grant to this your servant, (Name), the order of priesthood; so that he may with pure conduct and virtuous works offer you thanks.
Shower down upon him plentifully the grace of your Holy Spirit with the sevenfold gifts of truth and wisdom, understanding and great counsel, fortitude and knowledge, piety, and fear of you.
May all the malice of the Evil One pass away from him so that he may live righteously, instructing by the example of his person, and so that he may shepherd in truth these faithful people who hope in you. By doing and teaching this, may he be called great in the kingdom of Thy Christ [Mt 5:19], and may he worthily glorify you, O Lord.
Receiving him with a spiritual and holy greeting, ever thankful praising your almighty, holy will, may we all glorify the all-Holy Trinity, now and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
THE BISHOP ROBES THE CANDIDATE IN PRIESTLY VESTMENTS
The bishop takes the phelonion (black cope) from the godfather and places it over the shoulders of the candidate and says the following prayer:
BISHOP: Christ God, the hope of salvation and the secure wall of defense. Keep unshakable forever this your servant, (Name), who has responded to the divine call to the order of priesthood, so that he might fulfill its duties according to your will.
Clothe him in a robe of gladness [Is 61:10] and a garment of glory.
Girdle his loins with all sobriety. Make him self-denying, active in good works, chaste, prayerful, holy, pure. Grant him to keep the priesthood pure with holy heart. At the same time, in the course of a life of holiness, may he be kept entirely pure, in praise, for your pleasure.
With him, bless us also, Lord, through the gifts of your spiritual grace, for the glory of the most blessed Trinity. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and with spiritual joy at this convocation for the administration of this sacred order.
For you, God, accept and save us. You desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth [1Tim 2:4]. And we send up to you glory, Father almighty, and to your only-begotten Son, and to the liberating Holy Spirit, with praise, thanks and glorification; now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Peace unto all. Let us bow down unto God.
Lord Jesus Christ, the completion of the Law and the Prophets [Mt 5:17], the distributor of grace and mercy; bless this robe and its crown, as you blessed through Moses the robe and the crown of Aaron and of his sons [Ex 28]. And as in the beginning Jacob made for Joseph the coat of many colors [Gen 37], bless Lord this vestment and its robe; as also you blessed Elijah's mantle, by which the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha [2Ki 2:13-14].
Bless, O heavenly Father, the robe so that the blessing of your all-holy robe woven from on high may rest upon him. As your prophet predicted and said: "Who is this who comes from Edom with a beautiful robe and in the fulness of strength? [Is 63:1]. May the same blessing rest upon this your servant (Name) and may the blessing of your grace rest fully upon his robe.
And we all beseech the immutable dominion of your all-powerful and merciful Spirit: Send down the dew of your kindness and cultivate in his soul, and in the faculty of his senses, the most bountiful gifts of your abundant mercy. Till the rational field of his hardened corporeal heart that it may be fit to receive the spiritual seed of your fruit.
We confess that we owe to your all-wise divinity all the gifts that flower and grow in us. It is you who ordain apostles, inspire prophets, teach doctors, make the dumb speak and open the ears of the deaf as your relative, the one consubstantial with the Father, your first Son, doing all these things in cooperation with you, proclaimed you, O Holy Spirit, God, co-equal with the essence of the Father.
Grant also to him who has now been called by you to serve the Church in the administration of the sacraments; to speak confidently of the life-giving mystery of the good news of your Gospel; to run in a swift intellectual pace across the immense course of the testaments you inspired. And when he approaches the finish line of the interpretation of the divine word, may your mercy reach him first, speaking in him what is worthy and useful, and what is your pleasure at that time; for the glory and praise of your divinity, and for the completion of the building of the catholic Church.
Extend to him your outstretched arm, and strengthen him through the grace of your mercy. Dispel from his mind the haze of the darkness of forgetfulness, and with it take away the darkness of sin; so that by an understanding of the wisdom of life he may ascend from the life of this earth to your glory.
Illuminate in him again the source of the manifest signs of the knowledge of your mighty divinity, making him worthy to do and to teach by the good example of those who hear God in love.
By the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ who has invited us and has called us to His kingdom and to glory. And to you, Father almighty and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit is befitting glory, dominion and honor, now and always and unto the ages. Amen.
After this the Bishop shall place the crown on the head of the newly ordained.
BISHOP: Take this helmet of salvation [Eph 6:17] from the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And he shall vest him with the cope.
BISHOP: Our Lord Jesus Christ clothes you with salvation and with a new robe of gladness [Is 61:10] for the pleasure of your new spiritual life.
And then he ties the belt around the candidate.
BISHOP: Receive the authority from the Holy Spirit to bind and to loose, which our Lord commanded the holy Apostles, that "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" [Mt 18:18].
The candidate is now taken to the vestry where he is fully vested in the priestly vestments for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. During this the curtain is closed and the Choir sings Khorhoort Khorin (Profound mystery).
THE NEWLY-ORDAINED PRIEST IS ANOINTED AND RECEIVES HIS NEW NAME
When the newly-ordained priest is fully vested, the curtain is opened and he is led up to the altar by the deacons and acolytes. The bishop takes the Dove containing the Holy Myron (Oil) and pours some into a small container while singing the Hymn of Pentecost, Arakelo Aghavno.
The Sponsor removes the new priest's crown. The bishop anoints him with holy oil three times, announcing each time the priest's new name.
CHOIR: Amen, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
BISHOP (Anointing the forehead): Blessed, anointed and sanctified be the forehead of Father (new name) by the sign of this holy Cross, and by this holy Gospel and by this holy, illuminating myron and by the grace of this day, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The new priest holds his hands open.
CHOIR: Amen, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
BISHOP (Anointing the right palm): Blessed, anointed and sanctified be the right hand of Father(new name) by the sign of this holy Cross, and by this holy Gospel and by this holy, Illuminating Myrron and by the grace of this day, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
CHOIR: Amen, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
BISHOP: (Anointing the left palm): Blessed, anointed and sanctified be the left hand of Father(new name) by the sign of this holy Cross, and by this holy Gospel and by this holy, Illuminating Myrron and by the grace of this day, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
BISHOP: O Lord our God, who have anointed these hands with holiness and praise; bless all that he may bless, and confirm and fulfill whatever his hands may seal in your name. So that he may be empowered through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom are due glory, dominion and honor, now and forever. Amen.
CONFERRAL OF THE CHALICE AND PATEN
The bishop takes the chalice and paten and hands them to the priest.
BISHOP: Receive from the Holy Spirit the authority and competence to consummate and conduct the holy Eucharist in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the living and for the dead.
FIRST BLESSING OF THE NEW PRIEST
The bishop takes the thurible and censes the newly-ordained priest three times.
BISHOP: Again in peace, let us beseech the Lord, receive, save and have mercy. Give the blessing Father (new name).
NEWLY-ORDAINED: Blessing and glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
He turns to give his first blessing to the people, saying:
Khaghaghootyoon amenetsoon (Peace unto all).
Then the bishop blesses the newly ordained priest.
BISHOP: The blessing of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit descend upon you, who have been consecrated to the order of the priesthood, in order that you may offer the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, for the peace of the world, and for the remission of sins. Amen.
During the Kiss of Peace, the newly-ordained priest is greeted by the bishop and then by all the attending clergy. The Divine Liturgy then continues as usual.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy the newly-ordained priest stands in the center of the chancel and silently reads the Holy Scriptures while the faithful come forward to greet him by kissing his freshly-anointed hands
CHRONICLES OF THE CALL
A Calling To The Truth
An Unexpected Call From God
Flip A Coin
From Sales To Souls
God's Constant Call
To Become A Priest
Going With The Current
Of God's Call
Serve Your Church
The Inspiration Of My Teachers
RESOURCES FOR VOCATIONS
AND CHURCH MINISTRY
An Interview with the Director
of Youth & Vocations
Are You Listening?
His Invitation is Still: 'Follow Me'
The Armenian Sacrament of
Ordination to the Holy Priesthood
The Armenian Service of Calling
to the Holy Priesthood
To Choose or to be Chosen
POINTS OF LIGHT
All that the Father Gives Me
Will Come to Me (John 6:37)
Go In Peace, Darling
A Match to Light Our Worship
A Prayer in the Car
A True Christmas Story
An Open Door to the Kingdom
Baptism in a Shack
Blessing of a Factory
Confirmed in the Spirit
He Gave His Life for Us
It Is Worth All The Trouble
Prayerful Care of Souls
The Blind Man
Warming Up Without Heat
Prerequisites for Seminary Study
Do I Have What It Takes?
Seminary Studies: Courses, Teachers, Grades, Requirements
Marriage and Celibacy