Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ordination vows

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Since we're having a priestly ordination here at St Alban's on Saturday, I've been reflecting on the theme recently. Most of the sacramental rites have a covenant or set of vows to articulate the meaning of the ritual and prepare the recipient to make the most use of the graces. Ordination is no different, hence ordination vows. (By the way, contrary to popular belief, there is nothing in the vows about the Episcopal Church or any other particular church).

There's a lot of good stuff in there and they are work taking a look at. As you can see, the wording changes between provinces and editions of Prayer Books, but there are some common themes. We see the belief in the Scriptures and the commitment to defend the faith, the acceptance of the work of the ministry, acceptance of the bishop's leadership, and an embrace of holiness. Here are the texts from different ordinals.

1979 American Prayer Book and the Canadian Book of Alternative Services

Bishop My brother, do you believe that you are truly called by God and his Church to this priesthood?
Answer I believe I am so called.

Bishop Do you now in the presence of the Church commit yourself to this trust and responsibility?
Answer I do.

Bishop Will you respect and be guided by the pastoral direction and leadership of your bishop?
Answer I will.

Bishop Will you be diligent in the reading and study of the Holy Scriptures, and in seeking the knowledge of such things as may make you a stronger and more able minister of Christ?
Answer I will.

Bishop Will you endeavor so to minister the Word of God and the sacraments of the New Covenant, that the reconciling love of Christ may be known and received?
Answer I will.

Bishop Will you undertake to be a faithful pastor to all whom you are called to serve, laboring together with them and with your fellow ministers to build up the family of God?
Answer I will.

Bishop Will you do you best to pattern your life [and that of your family, or household, or community] in accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you may be a wholesome example to your people?
Answer I will.

Bishop Will you persevere in prayer, both in public and in private, asking God's grace, both for yourself and for others, offering all your labors to God, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, and in the sanctification of the Holy Spirit?
Answer I will.

Bishop May the Lord who has given you the will to do these things give you the grace and power to perform them.
Answer Amen.


Renewal of Ordination Vows from the American Book of Occasional Services

Dear friends, the ministry we share is none other than the sacrificial ministry of Christ, who gave himself up to death on the cross for the salvation of the world. By his glorious resurrection he has opened for us the way of everlasting life. By the gift of the Holy Spirit he shares with us the riches of his grace. We are called to proclaim his death and resurrection, to administer the Sacraments of the New Covenant which he sealed with his blood on the cross, and to care for his people in the power of the Spirit.

Bishop Do you here, in the presence of Christ and his Church, renew your commitment to your ministry, under the pastoral direction of your bishop?
Answer I do.

Bishop Do you reaffirm your promise to give yourself to prayer and study?
Answer I do.

Bishop Do you reaffirm your promise so to minister the Word of God and the Sacraments of the New Covenant that the reconciling love of Christ may be known and received?
Answer I do.

Bishop Do you reaffirm your promise to be a faithful servant of all those committed to your care, patterning your life in accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you may be a wholesome example to your people?
Answer I do.

The Bishop then stands and makes this affirmation
And now, as your bishop, I, too, before God and you, re-dedicate myself and reaffirm the promises that I made when I was ordained. I ask your prayers.

Bishop and Clergy May the Lord who has given us the will to do these things, give us also the grace and power to perform them.


1928 American Prayer Book

Bishop. Do you think in your heart, that you are truly called, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and according to the Canons of this Church, to the Order and Ministry of Priesthood?
Answer. I think it.

Bishop. Are you persuaded that the Holy Scriptures contain all Doctrine required as necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? And are you determined, out of the said Scriptures to instruct the people committed to your charge; and to teach nothing, as necessary to eternal salvation, but that which you shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture?
Answer. I am so persuaded, and have so determined, by God’s grace.

Bishop. Will you then give your faithful diligence always so to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same, according to the Commandments of God; so that you may teach the people committed to your Cure and Charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?
Answer. I will so do, by the help of the Lord.

Bishop. Will you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's Word; and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within your Cures, as need shall require, and occasion shall be given?
Answer. I will, the Lord being my helper.

Bishop. Will you be diligent in Prayers, and in reading the Holy Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of the same, laying aside the study of the world and the flesh?
Answer. I will endeavour so to do, the Lord being my helper.

Bishop. Will you be diligent to frame and fashion your own selves, and your families, according to the Doctrine of Christ; and to make both yourselves and them, as much as in you lieth, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ?
Answer. I will apply myself thereto, the Lord being my helper.

Bishop. Will you maintain and set forwards, as much as lieth in you, quietness, peace, and love, among all Christian people, and especially among them that are or shall be committed to your charge?
Answer. I will so do, the Lord being my helper.

Bishop. Will you reverently obey your Bishop, and other chief Ministers, who, according to the Canons of the Church, may have the charge and government over you; following with a glad mind and will their godly admonitions, and submitting yourselves to their godly judgments?
Answer. I will so do, the Lord being my helper.

¶ Then, all standing, shall the Bishop say,
Almighty God, who hath given you this will to do all these things; Grant also unto you strength and power to perform the same, that he may accomplish his work which he hath begun in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


1662 English Prayer Book

The Bishop. Do you think in your heart, that you are truly called, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and according to the Canons of this Church, to the Order and Ministry of Priesthood?
Answer. I think it.

The Bishop. Are you persuaded that the Holy Scriptures contain all Doctrine required as necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? And are you determined, out of the said Scriptures to instruct the people committed to your charge; and to teach nothing, as necessary to eternal salvation, but that which you shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture?
Answer. I am so persuaded, and have so determined, by God's grace.

The Bishop. Will you then give your faithful diligence always so to minister the Doctrine and Sacraments, and the Discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same, according to the Commandments of God; so that you may teach the people committed to your Cure and Charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?
Answer. I will so do, by the help of the Lord.

The Bishop. Will you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's Word; and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within your Cures, as need shall require, and occasion shall be given?
Answer. I will, the Lord being my helper.

The Bishop. Will you be diligent in Prayers, and in reading the Holy Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of the same, laying aside the study of the world and the flesh?
Answer. I will endeavour so to do, the Lord being my helper.

The Bishop. Will you be diligent to frame and fashion your own selves, and your families, according to the Doctrine of Christ; and to make both yourselves and them, as much as in you lieth, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ?
Answer. I will apply myself thereto, the Lord being my helper.

The Bishop. Will you maintain and set forwards, as much as lieth in you, quietness, peace, and love, among all Christian people, and especially among them that are or shall be committed to your charge?
Answer. I will so do, the Lord being my helper.

The Bishop. Will you reverently obey your Ordinary, and other chief Ministers, unto whom is committed the charge and government over you; following with a glad mind and will their godly admonitions, and submitting yourselves to their godly judgments?
Answer. I will so do, the Lord being my helper.

Then, shall the Bishop, standing up, say,
Almighty God, who hath given you this will to do all these things; Grant also unto you strength and power to perform the same, that he may accomplish his work which he hath begun in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Church of England's Common Worship

Bishop And now, in order that we may know your mind and purpose, you must make the declarations we put to you. Do you accept the Holy Scriptures as revealing all things necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?
Ordinands I do so accept them.

Bishop Will you be diligent in prayer, in reading Holy Scripture, and in all studies that will deepen your faith and fit you to bear witness to the truth of the gospel?
Ordinands By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you lead Christ’s people in proclaiming his glorious gospel, so that the good news of salvation may be heard in every place?
Ordinands By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you faithfully minister the doctrine and sacraments of Christ as the Church of England has received them, so that the people committed to your charge may be defended against error and flourish in the faith?
Ordinands By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you, knowing yourself to be reconciled to God in Christ, strive to be an instrument of God’s peace in the Church and in the world?
Ordinands By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you endeavour to fashion your own life and that of your household according to the way of Christ, that you may be a pattern and example to Christ’s people?
Ordinands By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you work with your fellow servants in the gospel for the sake of the kingdom of God?
Ordinands By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you accept and minister the discipline of this Church, and respect authority duly exercised within it?
Ordinands By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you then, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, continually stir up the gift of God that is in you, to make Christ known among all whom you serve?
Ordinands By the help of God, I will.


1962 Canadian Prayer Book

The Bishop. And now, that this present Congregation of Christ here assembled may also understand your minds and wills in these things, and that this your promise may the more move you to do your duties, ye shall answer plainly to these things, which we, in the Name of God, and of his Church, shall demand of you touching the same. Do you think In your heart that you be truly called, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the order of this Church, to the Order and Ministry of Priesthood?
Answer. I think it.

The Bishop. Are you persuaded that the holy Scriptures contain sufficiently all doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? And are you determined out of the said Scriptures to instruct the people committed to your charge, and to teach nothing (as required of necessity to eternal salvation) but that which you shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture?
Answer. I am so persuaded, and have so determined by God's grace.

The Bishop. Will you then give your faithful diligence always so to minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church hath received the same, according to the commandments of God; so that you may teach the people committed to your care and charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?
Answer. I will so do, by the help of the Lord.

The Bishop. Will you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's Word; and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within your cures, as need shall require, and occasion shall be given?
Answer. I will, the Lord being my helper.

The Bishop. Will you be diligent in prayers, and in reading of the holy Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of the same, laying aside the study of the world and the flesh?
Answer. I will endeavour myself so to do, the Lord being my helper.

The Bishop. Will you be diligent to frame and fashion your own selves, and your families, according to the doctrine of Christ; and to make both yourselves and them, as much as in you lieth, wholesome examples and patterns to the Flock of Christ?
Answer. I will apply myself thereto, the Lord being my helper.

The Bishop. Will you maintain and set forward, as much as lieth in you, quietness, peace, and love among all Christian people, and specially among them that are or shall be committed to your charge?
Answer. I will so do, the Lord being my helper.

The Bishop. Will you reverently obey your Ordinary, and other chief Ministers, unto whom is committed the charge and government over you, following with a glad mind and will their godly admonitions, and submitting yourselves to their godly judgements?
Answer. I will so do, the Lord being my helper.

Then shall the Bishop, standing up, say:
Almighty God, who hath given you this will to do all these things: Grant also unto you strength and power to perform the same; that he may accomplish his work which he hath begun in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


1968 Roman Rite of Ordination

The Candidate then stands before the bishop, who questions him:
My son, before you proceed to the order of the presbyterate, declare before these people your intention to undertake this priestly office. Are you resolved, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the office of priesthood in this presbyteral order as a conscientious fellow worker with the bishops in caring for the Lord's flock?
Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to celebrate the mysteries of Christ faithfully and religiously as the Church has handed them down to us for the glory of God and the sanctification of Christ's people?
Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and explaining the Catholic faith?
Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to consecrate your life to God for the salvation of his people, and to unite yourself more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a perfect sacrifice?
Candidate: I am, with the help of God.

Then the candidate goes to the bishop and, kneeling before him, places his joined hands between those of the bishop, who says:
Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors [or, to your Ordinary]?
Candidate: I do.

Bishop: May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

(By the way, contrary to popular belief, there is nothing in the vows about the Episcopal Church or any other particular church).

Huh???

"The Bishop says to the ordinand

Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of
Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in
accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop
and other ministers who may have authority over you and
your work?"

It says "this church" and since the priest is being ordained in the Episcopal church and being asked to obey according to the Canons, what church would you say this is referring to if not the Episcopal Church?

You are correct, it doesn't state Episcopal church but I can't imagine that a priest being ordained in an Episcopal church thinks he is making vows for the Bapist Church, the Methodist Church, the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone....I am pretty sure he or she KNOWS they are being ordained by the Episcopal Church.

And I certainly hope that Deacon Duncan understands when he makes his vows on Sat that he is doing so in the Episcopal Church. (TEC)

Timotheos Prologizes said...

I believe you are not thinking of the ordination vows (BCP, p 531-532) but of the Declaration of Conformity (BCP, p 526), which does mention the Episcopal Church.

sanctus.liberalis said...

Good to know. I hadn't noticed that before. :) Btw, I am not the previous poster...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there might be some clarification re: to whom the vox are being taken: http://www.steeringcommitteente.org/news.htm

Anonymous said...

Is the Declaration of Conformity not also a part of the vows? To stand before the congregation and declare to "solemnly engage to conform to the doctorine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church" and then be preparing to leave it to become either Anglican or Roman, seems a little misleading or maybe hypocritical?

Maybe you might also clarify why a priest of your age would be ordained in The Episcopal Church if you do not believe or agree with the doctorine and discipline. Just wondering.

Timotheos Prologizes said...

Anon,

While the declaration is a prelude to the vows, it is not a part of them. We should not confuse the two, for each has a role to play. As an analogy, the marriage rite also has a declaration of consent (BCP, 424) and vows of marriage (BCP, 427).

As for the other matter, I heartily agree with the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church; therefore I am apposed to changing them.

Anonymous said...

Clever. Very clever. Not necessarily worthy, but nonetheless clever.

TELP