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Author Topic: Vows  (Read 727 times) Average Rating: 0
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tuesdayschild
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« on: February 06, 2011, 05:16:27 PM »

Knowledgeable members, please help me to understand the specific vows made at baptism, monastic tonsure and clergy ordination/consecration.

There is this article about baptism: "Remember Your Baptismal Vows." Does this summary accurately reflect the liturgical texts? As I read the text of the baptism service, I do not see phrases that I would consider vows, unless voluntary participation in the sacrament implies a vow. There are vows in the Prayers at the Making of a Catechumen: "I do renounce [Satan]," "I have renounced him," "I do join [Christ]," "I have joined Him," "I believe in Him as King and as God," "I have joined Him," and "I bow down before the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; Trinity One in Essence and Undivided." Are these the vows usually referred to as baptismal vows? Are there more?

This is an article that describes monastic vows: "An Outline of Orthodox Monasticism "  It says, "The taking of the monastic vow and habit are but a repetition and amplification of the baptismal vows." It also mentions "vows of Stability, Obedience, Poverty and Chastity." What are the actual promises?

The service for the ordination to the priesthood appears to contain no vows or promises. Is this true? Same for the service for the ordination of deacon. True? The text of the service for the consecration to the episcopate is in Greek. I cannot read it. Does it contain vows?
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SakranMM
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2011, 12:34:28 PM »

I was just looking at the service of ordination for a priest, and while it does not contain formal "vows" per se, it does contain a sort of priestly "job description"...i.e. preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, renew God's people through the laver of regeneration....I think it is just understood that by submitting himself to God's calling, the priest is committing himself to do the things that we pray he will do when he is ordained.
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tuesdayschild
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2011, 06:55:20 PM »

I agree with you that it is understood that the priest will do those things, but the language used is not even as strong as a charge, much less a vow.

Quote
Bishop: O God, great in might and inscrutable in wisdom, marvelous in counsel above the sons of men: You the same Lord, fill with the gift of Your Holy Spirit this man whom it has pleased You to advance to the degree of Priest; that he may become worthy to stand in innocence before Your altar, to proclaim the Gospel of Your kingdom, to minister the word of Your truth, to offer to You spiritual gifts and sacrifices; to renew Your people through the font of regeneration, that when he shall go to meet You, at the second coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Your only-begotten Son, he may receive the reward of good stewardship in the order given to him, through the plenitude of Your goodness.(link)

Here the bishop prays that God will fill the priest with the Spirit and make him worthy to stand, to proclaim, to minister, to offer, etc. It isn't even a change in the sense of a command to the priest or an obligation placed on him. It isn't a vow, a solemn promise or assertion that the priest makes. It is a petition that God will enable the priest to fulfill certain duties. It surprises me that the role of the candidate is so passive, far more than the role of the catechumen.
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SakranMM
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2011, 07:40:19 PM »

I think that's kind of the point...we are passive agents in these sacraments, because God does the acting.  All we can do is assent to God's action by saying, "Amen."  If the grace depended on proper "vows", per se, it wouldn't be grace at all.  I don't mean to turn this into a "faith vs. works" thing; that's not where I'm going at all...but at least in the case of ordination, it is the Holy Spirit that enacts these things in the candidate, and the people assent to it by giving their "amen" and saying, "He is worthy." The ordained candidate says nothing at all; he's simply "led" around the altar and vested; it is just expected that he knows what he's getting into.

In regard to the baptismal vows, we often have a tendency to separate the different parts of the baptismal service - i.e. service of making a catechumen, baptism, chrismation, etc...but really, it's intended to be one continuous action; yes, I understand that the catechumenate and baptism are often separated in the case of adult converts by months or even a year or so, depending on the person, but with infants, it's all one shot, with the end result and goal being full incorporation into the body of Christ.  I would assume the article is referring to the vows made during the prayers for making a catechumen, and terming them "baptismal vows."

In Christ,

Fr. Michael
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tuesdayschild
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2011, 08:01:02 PM »

I am not suggesting that grace depends on vows. I am just surprised that there are no vows. I realize now that the ordination service is about being made worthy by God.

What you say about the service of the catechumenate flowing into the service of baptism as a single event makes sense.

I didn't realize earlier that you are clergy. Thank you for explaining these things, Fr. Michael.
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2011, 08:07:57 AM »

For clergy it's even more than that.

As part of the ceremony, the candidate is forced to do prostrations, is led around the altar by two attendants...the act of ordination itself doesn't really have a huge role for personal autonomy.

In contrast, the service for the catechumenate has that in spades - multiple declarations to unite oneself to Christ and such.  (though the baptism itself does not)
And the monastic tonsure has multiple chances for the candidate to back out - handing the scissors to the abbot three times, insisting that the tonsure be done, and somesuch...
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2011, 04:13:26 PM »

Here's a blog post that contains the questions asked of a candidate for the monastic life as part of the tonsure service:  http://orthodoxmonk.blogspot.com/2005/10/vows-of-tonsure-to-great-schema.html
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