The Rite of Ordaining Monks for Monasticism
THe Rite of Ordaining Monks for Monasticism
When the Lord saw Joshua's obedience to his teacher Moses, his love to people, his holy zeal towards God's commandments, God ordered Moses to ordain Joshua to be his successor in leading the children of Israel and said;" Take Joshua the son of nun with you, a man in whom is spirit, and lay your hands on him; set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. And you shall give some of your authority to him that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of the Urim; at his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and the children of Israel with him, all the congregation. So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before the entire congregation. And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the Lord commanded by the hands of Moses" (Numbers 27:18 -23)
So it is with the novice monk, he spends a few months under training, to be observed by his confessor father regarding his obedience and humility, how he deals with others, whether he is active or lazy etc.
This is also a chance for the novice to test himself whether he is serious in his intension for monasticism or not. If the Abbot finds no complains whatsoever about this novice monk and every one has a good report of him, especially his confessor father, and then he is ready to be ordained.
After the Agpia prayer in the Vespers, the Abbot opens the curtain of the sanctuary, the candles are lit on the altar and the monk's clothes are placed thereon. The monk stands before the sanctuary door, the Abbot asks;" Does anyone have any objection for ordaining brother….. As a monk?? “If no one objects the Abbot gives the monk some advice, then the monk bows in a matania in front of sanctuary door, then in front of the monastery door as a sign of obedience to the rules, then in front of his brother’s monks then he asks absolution and forgiveness from everyone. He then brings his clothes from the altar, he carries one end and the abbot carries the other end, then the abbot signs them 3 times with the cross while saying his new name as a monk. The monk kisses the abbot's hand, takes the clothes and puts them on any saint's relics present in the church, and then puts them on while the deacons chant a suitable hymn. The Vesper prayers are continued as normal and then all the monks come and congratulate the new monk, wishing him to abide and grow in grace, to be blessing for the monastery and the whole wilderness generally.
The spiritual father comes and takes his confession and prays the absolution, which is very important before the ordination that takes place the next morning so as to ensure that he is starting his new life pure and clean of any sin or iniquity, as St. Anthony says; " Monasticism is like baptism concerning starting a new life. The spirit that descends in the Holy Baptism comes also during ordination. It purifies the monk “St. Anthony witnesses this personally, as he says;" I saw my soul coming out of my body. The devil tried to hamper it in the air and judge it, but I heard a voice from heaven saying" I've forgiven every thing for him since his childhood till he became a monk; his sins are forgiven through his monasticism."
The monk stays awake at the church till the morning, together with other monks surrounding him happily. They talk about the struggle of monastic life, the life of great saints, especially the saints of his namesake (i.e. his monastic name).
They pray the Midnight Prayer the Midnight Praise and raising Morning Incense.
The Abbot then comes to continue the rite of ordination, which is prayed before the bodies of the saints present in the church in order that the spirit of these saints may come upon the newly ordained monk and support him in his struggle. This is what Moses did with the seventy elders of the tribe of Israel as God ordered him;" Gather for me seventy elders of the tribe of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, then they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take the sprit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone." (Numbers 11:16-17); so Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord, and he gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle. Then the lord came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again." (Number 11:24-25).
The Rite of Ordination
The monk lies on his back before the relics of saints, putting both hands on his chest like a dead person in a coffin because monasticism is death to the world. The readings are very similar to those of a funeral service with its sad tones.
The Abbot prays the Thanksgiving prayers, then the incense procession and then the Prophecies as follows:
+ + + From the Book of Genesis (Genesis 12:1-7), which exhorts on abandoning the world, obeying God's voice and seeking the land of Canaan like Abraham.
+ + + From the book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 8:1-9), which exhorts one to keep and follow the commandments in order to be worthy to enter Canaan, the promised land.
+ + + From Joshua son of Sirach (chapter 2:1-5) which exhorts on tolerating temptations and clinging to the Lord, in order to reach eternal life safely.
Then the litany of the sick people;"come you children listen to me; I will, teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see go? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."(Psalm 34:11-15); "I have done justice and righteousness; do not leave me to my oppressors. Be surety for your servant for good; Do not let the proud oppress me. My eyes fail from seeking your salvation and your righteous word. Deal with your servant according to Your mercy, and teach me Your statutes. I am Your servant; Give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies. It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way."(Psalm 119:21-28)" My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and honor has overhelmed me. And I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would haste my escape from the windy storm and tempest." Psalm 55:4-8).
The Pauline is read in Coptic in the sad tune, and then read in Arabic from Ephesians 6:10-20;"Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His mighty. Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
The Trisagion is sung in the sad tune, and then the Litany of the Gospel, the Psalm and gospel in Coptic, are sung in the Pascha tune.
The psalm is read in Arabic; "In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; Deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me, deliver me speedily; be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me. " (Psalm 31:1-2), then the Gospel;"When He had called the people to Himself, with his disciples also, He said to them,' Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me,'" (Mark 8:34).
An exposition is read by the Abbot where he asks God to accept the prayers, the fasting, repentance and confession of the new monk, to give him a pure heart, wisdom and an alert mind. Then the Three Great Litanies, the Creed and the litany of the Reposed is prayed. A prayer is said by the Abbot asking God to give the new monk blessing so as to help him escape the desires and overcome the tricks of the evil spirits.
The monk then stands up for the Abbot to cut his hair 5 times in the shape of the cross, saying the five singings. As a Nazarite used to do; 'Then the Nazarite shall shave his consecrated head at the door of the tabernacle of the meeting, and shall take the hair from his consecrated head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offering."(Number 6:18).
The Abbot prays, signs the clothes, and then clothes the monk while saying; "Put on the garment of righteousness and the shield of light and bear fruits worthy of repentance through Christ."
He puts on the Qalansewa (hood) and say;" Put on the hood of humility and the helmet of salvation, do good deeds through Christ".
He puts on the girdle and says; "Gird yourself with all the bindings of God and the power of repentance through Christ ".
These rites are done in imitation of Moses when consecrating Aaron and his children to serve the Lord; "And Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, put the tunic on Aaron, and the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastplates, and grid him with the intricately woven band of the ephod. You shall put the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban. And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him. Then you shall bring his sons and put tunics on them. And you shall grid them with sashes. Aaron and his sons, and put the hats on them. The priesthood shall be theirs for perpetual statute. So you shall consecrated Aaron and his sons." (Exodus 29:4-9).
Then, he reads the absolution, takes the monk by the hand before the altar, reading the monastic law written in the book, a part of which says;" You should know the amount of grace you have acquired because you have become in the image of angels, you are now a soldier for Christ, ready for a good struggle. You are now renewed from the world's evil deeds; so, keep yourself pure to become a good soldier for Christ, the King of Kings and resist the wars of Satan and his evil soldiers, keep your covenant to worship God in awe and reverence, pray the psalms, with vigils at night, pray the Psalmody and church prayers, do all this with moderate fasting. Listen to him who guides you to God's path and His Holy Commandments till death, in order to gain the crown of the children of God and inherit the Kingdom of Heaven."
The monk attends the Holy Liturgy; partake of the Holy Communion, then goes in a procession while the bells of the monastery ring declaring the joy of everyone.
An Exposition to be said Celebrating the Ordination of a new Monk
"Rejoice with us today my father and brethren, for our honourable monk (……) who put on the angelic robe and was granted to the good talents, which the Lord gives to whoever He desires and pours His Holy spirit on those who please Him. Our great father St. Anthony the father of all monks said: "I saw the Holy Spirit which descends in Baptism, descending on him who is ordained.
St Paul says in Romans9: 16;"It is not of him, who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." Also St. James said in James 1:17-18 ;"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of his own will He brought us forth by the words of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures."
Our Lord Jesus declared the path of perfection to the rich youth, Jesus said to him;" If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Matthew 19:21).
Let's glory the Lord and thank Him for His rich blessings and ask Him to give us understanding to open our mouths today and rejoice for the honour given to the monk (..........).
Blessed are you, the pure monk, for gaining this honourable gift, which our master Christ, glory be to Him, has granted you. When you put on the holy grab of monasticism the heavenly and earthly cried out, "Axios, Axsois… We ask our Lord, God and saviour Jesus Christ to preserve your monasticism in purity and righteousness and complete your struggle flowing the path of the Saints, in order to rejoice with them in the heavenly Jerusalem and hear that rejoicing voice from the divine mouth saying," enter into the joy of your Lord" (Matthew 25:23). Through the intercessions of the pure St. Mary, the father of all monks St Anthony and all the saints. Amen.