The Mystery of Priesthood

To be a priest is to offer sacrifice to God, to stand before him in prayer on behalf of others and for the world. In baptism, every Christian comes to share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. But certain Christians are called in a particular way to devote themselves in service to the Church, just as a married couple are called to devote themselves to one another, and to their family and community.

There are three ranks of this type of service to the Church. The bishop is the high priest and leader of a certain part of the Church committed to his care. He is assisted by priests, each of whom may offer the Eucharistic sacrifice under his authority, and deacons, who assist at liturgical services and are also responsible for charity and the care of the poor. In the Mystery of Priesthood, Christians are added to these three orders of service by the laying on of the bishop's hands.

The Ordination Rites

The ordination rites are found in the Archieratikon, the liturgical book specifically for a bishop. (This book has not been entirely translated into English; instead, parts are translated as necessary.)

All ordinations take place during the Divine Liturgy, in the presence of a bishop (generally, three or more bishops if a new bishop is to be ordained; this represents his unity with the entire Church). Each ordination takes place at a point in the Divine Liturgy which corresponds to the role to which a man is being ordained:

All three ordinations include the singing of hymns to Christ, to the martyrs, and to the apostles, followed by the prayer of ordination:

Divine Grace, which always heals what is infirm and supplies what is lacking, ordains the pious subdeacon (Name) to be a deacon. 

Divine Grace, which always heals what is infirm and supplies what is lacking, ordains the pious deacon (Name) to be a presbyter. 

Divine Grace, which always heals what is infirm and fulfills what is lacking, ordains the beloved of God, the Archimandrite, [or: the Hieromonk; or: the Priest] (Name), chosen to be the bishop of the God-saved city of (Name).

Immediately after the ordination, the clergy and then the people sing, "Axios!" (Greek for "He is worthy") as an acclamation and approval of the newly ordained deacon, priest, or bishop.

You can read the services themselves to find out more:

See also Singing the ordination services.

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