Innocent, my priest's best friend from college, was ordained to the deaconate this past Sunday at our parish.
Unless one is near a cathedral or a seminary, the chances of participating in an ordination service are slim for most Orthodox Christians. Not surprisingly, the church was packed with various Orthodox from around the state as well as Innocent's many family and friends.
During an ordination to the deaconate the candidate is typically ordained as a sub-deacon during Matins/Orthros. From this point forward until the Great Entrance, the sub-deacon stands in front of the icon of Christ (the one on the iconostasis) with a white towel covering his head. This is a symbol and reminder of Christ's humility.
I couldn't help but think what an intense time that must be; standing in prayer for a good 45 minutes contemplating the mystery of the priesthood.
It was interesting to see the connections between the ordination and the marriage service (3 times around the altar with the "Dance of Isaiah" hymnography; the prayers for joy and servant hood; the laying on of hands, etc).
Before Holy Communion is brought out, the sub-deacon gives a personal speech to the bishop. At several points Innocent choked up, particularly when he tried to talk about how much of a support his wife has been. It brought many in the congregation to tears.
Last night at Great Compline I asked Fr. Dn. Innocent what it was like to come out of the altar to cense the Church for the first time as a deacon. "Intense," he said.