Friday, June 09, 2006

Ordination to the Diaconate

Virgil's ordination to the diaconate was held at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church in South Bend, IN, on June 4, 2006. Please let me know if you have any questions about what goes on in these pictures.

Stefan holds the dikirion on Metropolitan Iakovos' left, and Dn. Vasili holds the trikera to his right as they say the preparatory prayers before Orthros.
Fr. Alexios, Fr. George, and Fr. Dean (holding the dikirion) receive the blessing from Metropolitan Iakovos. Magda, George, Hristos, and Catherine are at the chant stand. Dn. Vasili holds the trikirion and an open book. I think at this point we were just beginning the Liturgy.
Metr. Iakovos blesses Virgil's head. Fr. Dean is on the left, Dn. Vasili is holding the trikirion. George, Hristos, and Catherine are semi-visible at the chanter's stand. Virgil is wearing the white hitona (to symbolize the purity of the one who is about to serve the Lord) and carries the pitcher and basin with which to wash the bishop's hands. This is the beginning of the ordination to subdiaconate; Virgil had already been tonsured a reader years ago.
Fr. George reads the symmartyria from Fr. Andrew (of St. Vasilios, Sdn. Virgil's spiritual father at school) in both English and Greek. The symmartyria is a letter from one's spiritual father indicating that one is an acceptable candidate for ordination.* Fr. Andrew later said that he was happy to be at the ordination through the symmartyria, though he could not attend in person.

*I've noticed that there are many people who find my blog by searching for "symmartyria." If you need an example of one in Greek or English, email me.
Metr. Iakovos was given the choice of a heavy crystal pitcher-and-bowl or a light steel set. Naturally, he picked the crystal. In his day, they were this big! as he told us at the luncheon afterwards.
One of the duties of a subdeacon is to wash the bishop's hands. Sdn. Virgil washes Metr. Iakovos' hands as Fr. George, Fr. Dean, and Dn. Vasili look on. After this, Metr. Iakovos flicked the water from his hands onto Sdn. Virgil's face.
Dn. Vasili helps Sdn. Virgil with the pitcher and basin while Metr. Iakovos dries his hands. Frs. Alexios, George, and Dean look on.
After Metr. Iakovos dried his hands, he placed the towel on Sdn. Virgil's head. Still holding the basin and pitcher, Sdn. Virgil is led to Christ by Fr. Alexios and Fr. Dean. The icon of Christ is still decorated from Pascha because the white cloth looked so nice.
Time for prayer: as the candidate stands in front of the icon of Christ, he should recite the 50th Psalm, some hymns from the ninth hour, and other penitential prayers. He will remain in front of the icon of Christ through the Small Entrance and the readings of the epistle and Gospel.
The clergy and the altar boys, having come out through the north deacon's door (second from the left, with Archangel Michael), process with the Gospel book for the Small Entrance, pausing to sing hymns in front of the Royal Doors. After this, the epistle is read, and then the Gospel is read. For this Liturgy, the Gospel was read in Greek by Dn. Vasili and in English by Fr. Dean.
The next procession from the north deacon's door (still open in this picture) is called the Great Entrance. The clergy bear the bread and wine which will be offered as the Eucharist. For hierarchical Divine Liturgies, the bishop stays within the altar to receive the Gifts. The candidate for ordination follows the priests who bear the covered chalices. Dn. Vasili has the aer draped over his shoulders.
After the Great Entrance, the candidate for ordination is set before the icon of the Theotokos to pray until it is time to ordain him.
During the confession of the Creed, Metr. Iakovos kisses the altar as Fr. Dean and Fr. George shake the aer gently over the Gifts. This shaking was originally to keep flies and dirt away from the Holy Gifts. Dn. Vasili stands in front of the Royal Doors.
Sdn. Virgil is led forward by Fr. Dean and Fr. George to Metropolitan Iakovos at the Royal Doors.
Metr. Iakovos asks whether Sdn. Virgil is willing to accept this ordination, and whether he has anything he would like to say.
Metr. Iakovos prays over Sdn. Virgil. There is an altar boy prostrating himself on the left, and Dn. Vasili kneeling, head bowed, on the right.
Metr. Iakovos and Dn.(?) Virgil. The latter is still wearing his hitona.
Metr. Iakovos bestows the vestments on Dn. Virgil. We borrowed from Fr. Gregory, who is no longer a deacon. Evidently, he and Dn. Virgil are exactly the same size!
Dn. Vasili secures the right cuff (epimanikia) and Fr. Dean the left as they vest Dn. Virgil, who already wears the sticharion. The prayers of vesting are beautiful.

When the priest or deacon puts on the sticharon, he says: "My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He hath clothed me in the garment of salvation and with the vesture of gladness hath He covered me (Is. 61:10). In putting on the epimanika or cuffs, first on the right hand and then on the left, he prays: "Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorified in strength; Thy right hand, O Lord, hath vanquished the enemy, and in the multitude of Thy glory hast Thou crushed the adversaries (Ex. 15:6). "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me..." (Ps. 118:73). The cuffs are symbolic of the bonds of Christ and serve as a reminder that a minister of the Church must rely not on his own strength, but on the help of God. 1

Dn. Vasili and Fr. Dean assist Dn. Virgil with his orarion.
Deacon Virgil is now arrayed in the "garments of salvation." 2
Immediately, the new deacon begins to serve the Church, petitioning God for all good things. (This sounds like a PBS documentary, but, well, that's what happened.)
Dn. Virgil reads pre-Communion prayers for Metr. Iakovos.
Virgil now communes as a deacon. My favorite pictures of my husband, the ones which make me choke up they're so beautiful, are those in which I see him receiving the precious Gifts.
Deacon Virgil holds his orarion patiently. (I mean, it's nothing to the crystal pitcher...)
Dn. Virgil offers petitions to God on behalf of His people.
Dn. Virgil awaits the metropolitan.
Cake at the reception for afterwards. Evidently my mother decided to wander around with the camera.
My next project is to organize the pictures from Dn. Virgil's first Liturgy as a deacon, at St. Vasilios in Peabody, MA, on June 6, 2006.


Blogger Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Many Years to Deacon Virgil !
and Many Years to you, Diakonissa !

Sun Jun 11, 01:55:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Mimi said...

Many Years to Deacon Virgil and to his lovely Diakonissa!

Gorgeous photos!

Mon Jun 12, 12:27:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Lissa said...

By the way... I really appreciate all your explinations for these pictures! It's great to know what I was watching. :)

Thu Jul 06, 09:46:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Axios! and many years to Dn. Virgil and many years to his beautiful wife, Diakonissa/Proeteasa Magda.
Thank you for sharing all these pictures. They are informative and precious at the same time.

We ( my husband, mom-in-Law and I)surely miss Dn. Virgil's adult education class here at the St. Vasilios Church in Peabody. ( if you remember the Asian looking lady with the little girl, that's me):)

I have one question for you, Diakonissa Magda. How did you share orthodoxy to your parents. I was a catholic, too. I hope and pray that God will send an orthodox missionary to the far corners of the Philippines where I come from.

Thanks again for sharing the lovely photos. I look forward to your future blogs.

Wed Dec 27, 02:18:00 AM CST  

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