Ordination of the Holy Orders is one of the sacraments of the Armenian Church. Through Ordination, men receive the power and grace to perform the sacred duties of a clergyman of the Church. Ordination is a sacrament by which the Holy Spirit offers the elected person the right to perform the sacraments and to feed Christ’s flock.
The Sacrament of Ordination is always administered by a Bishop. There are various ranks of clergy within the Church, each with a special service by which each one of these ranks is granted. What is common to all the ranks is the act of “laying of the hands” (tzernatroutiun) by the Bishop onto the ordinate. By placing his anointed right hand on the ordinate, this continues the unbroken Apostolic succession of authority, granted by the Apostles to the first Bishops of the Church, and carried on today through Ordination. Before entering the major ranks of ecclesiastical order of the Armenian Church, a person must have been ordained to the four minor ranks.
One who receives these four minor ranks is known as a tbir (or clerk). Through the minor orders, the tbir is conferred special privileges which are the foundation of his service to the church as a participant during the worship services. There are four distinct functions of a tbir: doorkeeper (trnaban), reader (untertsogh), exorcist (yertm’netsootsich), and candle bearer (momagal). In receiving these ranks, one becomes an Acolyte. The requirements for ordination to the sub-Diaconate are extensive. The sub-Diaconate is a transitional rank between tbir and full Deacon in which a young man is preparing himself for fuller service to the church.
Ecclesiastical Orders (Major Orders)
There are three ranks of ordained ministry in the Armenian Church: deacon, priest, and bishop. When a deacon is ordained a priest, he is given the power to perform the divine offices and the rituals of the Church, including administering Holy Communion and performing all sacraments (except ordination). During the service, the candidate for the priesthood is anointed with holy chrism (muron) and given a priestly name. This places him in the Apostolic Succession, linking him back to the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew (who brought Christianity to Armenia) and back before them to Christ himself.
The higher ranks are those of Bishop and Catholicos. They have higher authority and jurisdiction in administrative matters. The office of Catholicos of All Armenians is the highest office in the Armenian Church. The Catholicos of All Armenians is the spiritual leader of the worldwide Armenian Church.The Catholicos is typically chosen from the College of Bishops. Twelve bishops consecrate the Catholicos.
"I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying of my hands," writes St. Paul to his disciple Timothy. (2 Tim 1:6). The ‘Gift" of the Grace which is given to clergy at Ordination is the spiritual authority to fulfill all his duties worthily and in a manner pleasing to God, and to live a virtuous life in conformity with his calling.