Tuesday, June 04, 2019

A Maronite Diaconal Ordination in Rome

This past Sunday, Michael Shami, a Maronite seminarian, was ordained to the diaconate in the chapel of the North American College in Rome, where he is studying; the ordaining bishop was H.E. Elias Zaidan, bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. Our thanks to Deacon Shami for sharing these pictures of the ceremony with us, which show some of the interesting features of the Maronite Rite. We congratulate him, his family and friends, and his church - ad multos annos!

The bishop incensed at the beginning of the liturgy by an assistant priest, who covers his mouth as he does this; apparently, the reason for this custom is unknown.
 The reading of the Epistle.
 The reading of the Gospel.
 The incensation of the gifts.
The bishop gives the peace to the ordinand; this takes place right before the Preface dialogue.
The elevation of the Chalice after the Consecration.
The elevation of the Host and Chalice at the rite of the Fraction and commingling, the Maronite version of which is the most complex among all of the historical Christian rites.
In the Maronite Rite, the ordination ceremony takes place after the bishop, concelebrants and deacons have communicated. The ordinand is presented to the bishop by a priest sponsor, who says “We present to Your Excellency, our father, chosen of God, Bishop Elias, this God-loving servant, Michael, who is standing here to receive the imposition of hand, and be raised from the Order of Subdeacons to the Order of Deacons to serve the holy altars of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. As he vows obedience to Your Excellency, our father, chosen of God, we all pray to God on his behalf, proclaiming three times”; the choir and congregation answer with three “Kyrie, eleison.”
The bishop imposes both hands on the head of the candidate as he prays, “The divine grace and heavenly gift, which, at all times, satisfies our needs, cures our infirmity, heals our wounds, and assists all the children of the holy Church, is calling and electing this servant of Christ, Michael, elevating him from the Order and office of Subdeacons to the seraphic Order of Deacons to serve the holy churches of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. Let us pray for him, imploring that the Holy Spirit may come down upon him and dwell within him, and we proclaim three times”; the choir and congregation answer with three “Grant him this, O Lord.”
The bishop directs the candidate to kneel on his right knee; he extends his arms and then joins his hands over the Body and Blood of Christ three times, extends his hands over the chalice, and then flutters and imposes them over the head of the candidate, also three times.
He then places his right hand on the head of the candidate and covers his own hands and the head of the candidate with the cope; while keeping his right hand on the head of the candidate, the bishop flutters his left hand back and forth. The ordination prayers are said silently.
The new deacon is dressed in alb and stole, then given the book of the Epistles of Saint Paul by the bishop, which he holds on his chest. The sponsor leads him with a stole around his neck, processing him around the church.
After the procession, the bishop directs the deacon to read a passage from St Paul, 1 Timothy 3, 8-13, on the duties of deacons.
The same ceremony is performed with the thurible, which the new deacon receives from the bishop, and uses to incense the altar by walking around it; he is then lead around the church by his sponsor while incensing the people. 
The bishop gives him the chalice veil, whch the deacon flutters it over the mysteries; he is then processed with it around the church as before.
The deacon kneels and bows his head before the altar. The bishop lifts the paten with the Body of Christ and, holding it high, turns toward the people, then places his right hand on the deacon’s head, and over it places his left hand, still holding the the paten, and prays that the deacon “honor your holy altar without reproach, to carry the Body of your beloved Son in procession and with reverence and to present to your flock the chalice of his holy Blood that they may drink from it.” 
And likewise with the chalice, praying that the deacon may  bestow upon your servant, your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and the understanding of your living words, that he may, in love, true faith, and holiness, serve in this awesome and noble ministry and minister to the Mysteries of your divine majesty.
After a brief exhortation on the duties of the deacon, the bishop takes him by the right hand and leads him to the altar; the deacon kisses the altar and then the bishop’s hand, then exchanges the peace with the bishop and all the clergy present.  
Finally, the bishop gives Holy Communion to the deacon, who then participates in the distribution of Communion to the faithful.

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