Sunday, April 18, 2021

Our Lord and the sun was shining on the faithful at the Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church as Justin Bosl was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos. Also participating in the service were His Grace Bishop Ioannis of Phocaea, Rev. Father Niko Bekris, Rev. Father Thomas Zaferes,  Rev. Father Photios Dumont, and Rev. Father Panagiotis Sotiras. In addition, over120 parishioners, family members, guests, and close friends attended the Divine Services and chanted AXIOS! to our beloved Deacon Justin.

This was only the second ordination held at the Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church since its inception in 1971.

Deacon Justin

Deacon Justin is a 2020 graduate of the deaconate program at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. His spiritual formation into the Orthodox faith was through Resurrection parish where he and his family have been active stewards since 2004.

Deacon Justin is currently the Second Vice President of the Board of Directors for Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center. He also assists the Metropolis with various legal matters, and is a key member of the Metropolis COVID-19 Parish Support Team.

God has richly blessed Justin and his wife, Annemarie with four amazing (and devout) children: Judi (Markella), Joseph, Gregory, and Natalia.

A Message From Deacon Justin

Dear brothers and sisters in the Resurrection,

Our family cannot thank you all enough for the incredible outpouring of love and support leading up to and since my ordination to the Holy Diaconate. Your love and enthusiasm has been an overwhelming joy! We are especially grateful to Fr. Niko, Presvytera Stella, and the team of Parish Council and Philoptochos members who put together all the many details for the ordination day.

Thank you also for the beautiful set of vestments, which will become my usual Sunday set. It will be an incredible honor and blessing to serve this parish and all of you, whom we love so much. Please continue to keep us in your prayers!

In Christ,
Deacon Justin and Diakonissa Annemarie

The Diaconate

From the earliest Christian community (Acts 6:1-6) to the present, deacons have played an integral part in the life of the Church. Perhaps not as visible and prominent as they once were, the ministry of the diaconate is an integral part of the Church’s ecclesial identity, being one of the three ordained offices of the Church. As the name implies (διάκονος = “servant”), the diaconate is the office of service par excellence, and the deacon serves at the behest of the local Metropolitan both liturgically and pastorally in the life of a community. All higher clergy, priests and bishops, must first be ordained and serve as deacons. Because Christ came not to be served, but to serve, so, too, all those who receive the grace of the Holy Spirit to Holy Orders must begin their service as deacons.

Holy Ordination

At the conclusion of Orthros the candidate is brought before the bishop at the throne, and the symmartyria (canonical testimonial) is read. The bishop then makes the sign of the Cross three times over the candidate, saying:

Bishop:        In the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (3)

Deacon:      Let us pray to the Lord.

Bishop:      Lord, our God, Who through the one and same Holy Spirit distribute gifts
                   of grace to each one whom You have chosen; Who have given to the
                   Church different orders; and have established different degrees of ministry
                   therein for the service of Your holy, pure Mysteries; and Who through Your
                   ineffable foreknowledge have ordained this Your servant (Name) worthy to
                   serve in Your holy Church. Preserve him, Lord, uncondemned in all things.

                   Grant that he may love the beauty of Your house, standing before the
                   doors of Your holy temple, and lighting the lamps of the dwelling place of
                   Your glory. Plant him in Your holy Church like a fruitful olive tree bringing
                   forth the fruits of righteousness. Make him Your perfect servant at the time
                   of Your Second Coming, that he may receive the reward of those who are
                   pleasing in Your sight. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the
                   glory, of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and always, and
                   to the ages of ages.

Chanters:    Amen.

The newly-ordained subdeacon stands before the bishop, holding a pitcher of water in his right hand, and a bowl in his left, with a towel placed over his left arm. The bishop washes his hands, and then splashes water in the face of the subdeacon.  While he does these things, the subdeacon intones: 

Subdeacon:  All who are faithful. (3)

The newly-ordained subdeacon is led before the icon of the Lord Jesus Christ to prayerfully await the moment of ordination to the Diaconate.

A deacon’s ordination takes place after the consecration of the Holy Gifts during a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, by virtue of the fact that he does not participate in the consecration himself. After being led around the altar thrice, he kneels on one knee at the altar to await the laying on of hands.

During the Liturgy, after the Hierarch has intoned “And may the mercies of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all,” two Deacons exit, and bring the Subdeacon before the Hierarch.  They stand on the solea, facing the Hierarch who stands in the Beautiful Gate.

1st Deacon: Command

2nd Deacon: All command

1st Deacon:  Command, Holy Master, the one who presents himself before you.

Bishop:         In the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  (3)

The subdeacon addresses the bishop, then the bishop counsels the subdeacon.  Afterwards, the subdeacon is brought into the sanctuary, and led by the deacons, circles the altar three times while the clergy sing:

Clergy:        Hear us, you martyred Saints who have fought the good fight and received
                    crowns, entreat the Lord, to have mercy on our souls. Glory to you, Christ
                    our God, the Apostles’ boast and pride, the Martyrs’ fervent joy whose
                    preaching is the consubstantial Trinity. O Isaiah dance with joy, for the
                    Virgin is indeed with child and brought forth a son, Emmanuel.  Who came
                    both as God and man, Day-at-the-Dawn is his name, and by magnifying
                    him, we call the Virgin blessed.

They bring the Candidate to the Hierarch at the front of the Altar. The subdeacon kneels before the Altar placing his hands on the Altar and his head upon his hands. The Hierarch makes the sign of the Cross three times over his head. After the Deacon proclaims, “Let us be attentive!” the Hierarch places his hand on the head of the Subdeacon and recites the Prayer, “The Divine grace…”

Deacon:       Let us be attentive.

Bishop:       The divine grace, which always heals that which is infirm and completes
                    that which is lacking, ordains the most devout Subdeacon (Name) to the
                    office of Deacon.  Let us, therefore, pray for him, that the grace of the All
                    Holy Spirit may come upon him.


The clergy in the Holy of Holies say:

Clergy:         Lord have mercy.  Lord have mercy.  Lord have mercy.

Deacon:       Let us pray to the Lord.

Bishop:       Lord our God, in Your providence You send your Holy Spirit upon those
                    who are ordained by Your unsearchable power to become servants to
                    minister Your Pure Mysteries, do You Lord, look upon this man whom You
                    have consented to be ordained by me to the service of the Diaconate and
                    preserve him in all humility, that he may hold the mystery of the faith with
                    a pure conscience. Grant to him the grace which You gave to Stephen,
                    Your first martyr, whom You called first to the ministry of Your
                    Diaconate.  Make him worthy to please You as he serves You in the office
                    which you, in your goodness, bestowed upon him.  For those who minister
                    well prepare themselves for good reward; and proclaim him Your perfect
                    servant. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, of the Father,
                    the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and always, and to the ages of ages.

Chanters:     Amen.

The first deacon recites the following petitions in a low voice while the clergy in the Holy of Holies slowly respond “Lord, have mercy.”

1st Deacon:  In peace let us pray to the Lord. For the peace from above and the
                    salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord. For peace in the whole
                    world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the union of all,
                    let us pray to the Lord. For our Archbishop (Name), and our Bishop
                    (Name) for his priesthood, sustenance, sojourn, peace, health, salvation,
                    and for the works of his hands, let us pray to the Lord. For the servant of
                    God (Name of the new deacon), who has now been ordained a deacon,
                    and for his salvation, let us pray to the Lord. That God who loves mankind
                    will grant to him a pure and blameless diaconate, let us pray to the Lord.
                    For this parish and this city, for every city and country, and for the faithful
                    who live in them, 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 on us, and protect us, O God, by Your grace.
                    Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most-blessed, and glorious Lady, the
                    Theotokos and ever-Virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit
                    ourselves and one another and all our life to Christ our God.


Chanters:    To You, O Lord.

Bishop:         For to You belong all glory, honor, and worship, to the Father and to the
                    Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always, and to the ages of ages.

Chanters:      Amen.

While the 1st deacon intones the petitions, the bishop reads the following prayer with his hand still on the new deacon’s head:

Bishop:       O God our Savior, by your immortal voice You established the office of the
                    diaconate through Your Apostles and showed forth the First martyr
                    Stephen whom You elected first to fulfill the work of a deacon.  It is written
                    in your holy Gospel, “whoever would be first among you, let him be your
                    servant.” Lord of all fill this, Your servant, whom you have consented to
                    enter the ministry of a deacon with the totality of faith, love, power, and
                    sanctification by the descent of Your Holy and Life-giving Spirit.  For not
                    through the laying on of my hands, but by the divine visitation of your rich
                    mercies grace is bestowed upon your worthy ones; that he, liberated from
                    every sin, may stand blameless by You in the awesome Day of Judgment
                    and receive the true reward of Your promise. For You are our God, and to
                    You we ascribe glory, together with the  Father and the Holy Spirit, now
                    and always, and to the ages of ages.

Chanters:     Amen.

Everyone stands and the bishop proclaims the newly-ordained Deacon “Axios!” (worthy) to which the congregation responds “Axios!” The bishop will hold up each item of the deacon’s vestments and again proclaim “Axios!,” each time to which the congregation also responds “Axios!” and vests the new deacon.

Deacon’s Vestments

The vestments of the deacon are the sticharion, the orarion, and the epimanikia.

All degrees of clergy wear the sticharion.

The sticharion is a long-sleeved tunic that reaches all the way to the ground. It reminds the wearer that the grace of the Holy Spirit covers him as with a garment of salvation and joy. For deacons, the sticharion has wide sleeves and is made of a heavier fabric than that of the priest and bishop, who wear their sticharia under other vestments.


The distinctive vestment of the deacon is the orarion.

The orarion is a narrow band of material that the deacon wears wrapped around his body and draped over his left shoulder. It represents the grace of the Holy Spirit that in ordination anoints the deacon like oil. It is the principal vestment of the deacon and without it he cannot serve.

When the deacon leads the people in prayers or invites them to attention he holds one end of his orarion in his right hand and raises it.

The final parts of a deacon’s vestments are the epimanikia. The epimanikia are cuffs that are worn around the wrists, tied by a long cord. These are also worn by the bishop and priest. They serve the practical purpose of keeping the inner garments out of the way during the services. They also remind the wearer that he serves not by his own strength but with the help of God. Only those in major orders wear the epimanikia.

Duties

The deacon ministers to the priest and bishop in the divine services. This includes:

  • Preaching the Gospel of Christ (with the blessing of the presiding priest or bishop)
  • Assisting in the celebration of the all Holy Mysteries of the Church
  • Leading the people in the litanies
  • Reading from the Gospel during the Divine Liturgy
  • Keeping the decorum of the public worship, including calling people to attention at appropriate times
  • Assisting in the distribution of Holy Communion during Liturgy
  • Taking the Sacraments to the sick and shut-ins
  • Other charitable, pastoral, and educational tasks related to Church life, with the blessing and direction of his priest or bishop.

Deacons wear a cassock; this is done as a sign of his suppression of his own will and desires, and his canonical obedience to God, his bishop and the liturgical and canonical norms of the Church. Deacons are also permitted to wear the exoraso (or riassa). In jurisdictions that utilize clergy shirts, deacons generally wear a clergy shirt with collar.

In addition, to complete his duties, the deacon is permitted to touch the Table of Oblation, the Altar, and to move through the Royal Doors.

The place of a deacon is to serve the community and to lead prayers. He must have the blessing of the presiding priest or bishop to put on his vestments and serve. A deacon may not celebrate the sacraments by himself; he may not give blessings; he may not consecrate the Holy Gifts.

Education and Training

Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology offers a three-year program in Diaconate Studies. Through an intensive mentoring program, distance learning offerings, and three summer sessions on the campus of Holy Cross, the Diaconate Program introduces candidates to the theology, history, liturgical practices, pastoral approaches, and canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church.

Sources

https://goodguyswearblack.org/holy-orders/major-orders/deacon/
https://www.goarch.org/chapel/texts
https://www.hchc.edu/certificate-programs/diaconate-program/