by John Wijngaards
The Monastery of St. Xenophon on Mount Athos, was founded in the 11th century, and was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. It houses a collection of 300 manuscripts, including this precious euchologion, which until recently was used for the liturgy in the monastery itself.
Prayer for the ordination of a deaconess [’ευχη ’επι χειροτονιαι διακονισσης].
After the sacred offertory, the doors are opened and, before the deacon starts the litany ‘All Saints’, the woman who is to be ordained deacon is brought before the pontiff. And after he has said the ‘Divine Grace’ with a loud voice, the woman to be ordained bows her head. He imposes his hand on her forehead , makes the sign of the cross on it three times, and prays:
“Holy and Omnipotent Lord, through the birth of your Only Son our God from a Virgin according to the flesh, you have sanctified the female sex. You grant not only to men, but also to women the grace and coming of the Holy Spirit. Please, Lord, look on this your maid servant and dedicate her to the task of your diaconate [της διακονιας], and pour out into her the rich and abundant giving of your Holy Spirit. Preserve her so that she may always perform her ministry [λειτουργια] with orthodox faith and irreproachable conduct, according to what is pleasing to you. For to you is due all glory and honour.”
After the ‘Amen’, one of the deacons now starts this prayer: ‘Let us implore the Lord in peace. For peace from above, let us pray to the Lord. For peace in the whole world. For this our Archbishop, for his priestly ministry, his reward, his endurance, his peace and salvation and the work of his hands, let us pray to the Lord. For so-and-so [name of the woman] who is to receive the diaconate and for her salvation. That God who loves people grant her a pure and immaculate diaconate, let us pray to the Lord. For our pious Emperor who is protected by God, etc., etc.’
While the deacon makes these intercessions, the archbishop, still imposing his hand on the head of the ordinand, prays as follows:
“Lord, Master, you do not reject women who dedicate themselves to you and who are willing, in a becoming way, to serve your Holy House, but admit them to the order of your ministers [λειτουργων]. Grant the gift of your Holy Spirit also to this your maid servant who wants to dedicate herself to you, and fulfil in her the grace of the diaconate [διακονιας], as you have granted to Phoebe the grace of your diaconate [διακονιας], whom you had called to the work of the ministry [λειτουργιας]. Give her, Lord, that she may persevere without guilt in your Holy Temple, that she may carefully guard her behaviour, especially her modesty and temperance. Moreover, make your maid servant perfect, so that, when she will stand before the judgement seat of your Christ, she may obtain the worthy fruit of her excellent conduct, through the mercy and humanity of your Only Son.”
After the ‘Amen’, he puts the stole of the diaconate [το διακονικον ‘ωραριον] round her neck, under her veil, arranging the two extremities of the stole towards the front.
When the newly ordained has taken part of the sacred body and precious blood, the archbishop hands her the chalice. She accepts it and puts it on the holy table.
1. St. Xenophon monastry ms 163; Dmitrievskij, Opisanie, vol. 2, p. 361.