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ORDER FOR THE ORDINATION OF A WOMAN DEACON

After the completion of the holy Anaphora and the opening of the doors, before the Deacon says, Having commemorated all the Saints,[1] the one to be ordained is brought before the Bishop. As he declaims the invocation, Divine grace,[2] etc., she bows her head, on which he lays his hand.

He makes the sign of the Cross three times over her and prays as follows:

Holy and All-powerful God, through the birth in flesh of your Only-begotten Son and our God from a Virgin you sanctified woman, and granted not only to men but also to women the grace and visitation of the Holy Spirit. Now, Master, look upon this servant of yours also, call her to the work of your service[3] and send down upon her the rich gift of your Holy Spirit. Guard her in your Orthodox faith in a blameless way of life in accordance with what is well pleasing to you, as she fulfils her ministry[4] at every moment.[5]

For to you belong all glory, honour and worship, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

After the Amen one of the Deacons prays as follows:

In peace, let us pray to the Lord. And the rest, as in the ordination of male Deacons, with the necessary changes of gender in the petition for the candidate.

While the Deacon is saying this, the Bishop, with his hand still resting on the head of the one being ordained, prays as follows:

Master and Lord, you do not reject women who offer themselves, and by divine counsel, to minister as is fitting to your holy houses, but you accept them in the order of ministers. Give the grace of your Holy Spirit to this servant of yours also, who wishes to offer herself to you, and to accomplish the grace of the diaconate, as you gave the grace of your diaconate to Phoebe, whom you called to the work of the ministry. Grant her, O God, to persevere without condemnation in your holy churches, to give careful attention to her way of life, to chastity in particular, and show her to be your perfect servant, that, when she stands before the judgement of Christ, she may also receive the fitting reward of her way of life.[6]

By the mercy and love for humankind of your Only-begotten Son, with whom you are blessed, etc.

And after the Amen the Bishop places the Deacon’s Orarion on her neck, under the Maphorion, bringing the two extremities round to the front.[7]

The other Deacon stands outside the Sanctuary and says:

Having commemorated all the Saints, again and again in peace, let us pray to the Lord, etc.

After she has received Communion of the holy Body and Blood, the Bishop hands her the Chalice. When she has taken it, she places it on the holy Table.

 

[1] The ordination takes place at the same point of the Liturgy as that for male Deacons and the role of the diaconate as the minister of the Chalice is stressed by the giving of the Chalice to the newly ordained woman Deacon. This clearly indicates that the newly ordained was admitted to the Sanctuary and stood near the Altar. The 14th century canonist Matthew Blastares notes that, ’except for a few things, the ordination of women deacons is to be performed like that for male deacons’. He notes particularly that ‘she is brought to the Holy Table’. The rubrical details in the  older books are few and the actual formula of ordination is not given in full. As a result we do not know how the candidate was described or what her ecclesiastical status was before ordination. I do not think the fact that she only bows and does not kneel has any theological signifance.

[1] This prayer is less specific than that for male Deacons and makes no reference to the ‘service of the Mysteries’. On the other hand there is no distinction between the sexes with regard to the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’ conferred by ordination.

[2] See the rite for male Deacons.

[3] Greek diakonia.

[4] Greek leitourgia. Here and elsewhere translated by ‘ministry’. The verb by ‘minister’.

[5] This prayer is less specific than that for male Deacons and makes no reference to the ‘service of the Mysteries’. On the other hand there is no distinction between the sexes with regard to the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’ conferred by ordination.

[6] Whereas the model for the male diaconate is St Stephen, that for women Deacons is St Phoebe of Kenchreae, who is clearly described as a ‘Deacon’ in Romans 16. In contrast to the prayers for male ordinands, the prayer underlines that fact that the woman has offered herself for ordination, which is more reminiscent of the rite of monastic profession.

[7] The woman Deacon is specifically said to be vested in a ‘deacon’s orarion’, but she wears it with both ends hanging down in front, like a western stole, rather than over the left shoulder. This difference appears to be purely practical, since the woman Deacon would be wearing the maphorion, or ample monastic veil, which would make wearing the orarion over her shoulder difficult.

 

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Archimandrite Ephrem ©

This page was last updated on 03 November 2008