After taking kairos the Priest begins vesting. It is a service rich in symbolism and filled with beautiful prayers.
[The Priest blesses the STICHARION]
First, the priest puts on the STICHARION which represents the baptismal garment, the garment of salvation.
[Priest puts on the STICHARION]
Prayer: “My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He has clothed me with a garment of righteousness and has covered me with a robe of gladness. He has crowned me as a bridegroom, and has adorned me as a bride with jewels always, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.”
[Priest puts on the EPITRACHELION after kissing it]
The Epitrachelion represents the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and is also a symbol of the grace of priesthood. The Epitrachelion is a required vestment for all priestly functions.
Prayer: “Blessed is God who pours out His grace upon his priests, as myrrh upon the head that ran down the beard, the beard of Aaron, which ran down to the hem of his garment.”
[Puts on the ZONE]
The Zone reminds the Priest that it is God who “girds him with strength” and that he is bound to Christ.
Prayer: “Blessed is God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless always, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.”
[Placing the EPIMANIKION on his right hand]
The Epimanikia are like the manacles which bound Christ. They are also a reminder that the priest must rely on the help of God for strength. Each cuff is tied closely around the wrist so as to avoid interference.
Prayer: “Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in strength. Your right hand, O Lord, has crushed the enemies. In the fullness of Your glory You have shattered the adversaries.”
[Placing the EPIMANIKION on his left hand]
Prayer: “Your hands have made me and fashioned me. Grant me understanding and I shall learn from Your commandments.”
[Putting on the EPIGONATION]
The Epigonantion is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the living Word of God, which the priest uses against the wiles of the enemy.
Prayer: “Gird your sword upon Your thigh, O mighty One, and in Your splendor and beauty string Your bow. Prosper and reign because of truth, meekness, and righteousness. Your right hand shall lead You wonderfully always, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.”
[Taking the PHELONION, he blesses and kisses it]
The Phelonion represents the Priest putting on the gift of the Holy Spirit. Symbolically, it is the counterpart of the scarlet robe placed on Christ before the crucifixion.
Prayer: “Your priests, O Lord, shall clothe themselves with righteousness, and Your saints shall rejoice with joy, always, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.”
While the typikon only calls for light or dark vestments, multiple colors are general used. For example, purple is often used during Lent while white is used during Pascha and the Paschal season.
[Priest washes his hands]
After vesting, the Priest washes his hands, which symbolizes the purity required of those who celebrate the Eucharist … celebrating with pure hands, with a pure heart, and with a pure tongue. He prays that he may be judged worthy to celebrate the awesome Eucharistic Mystery of Christ and then prepares for the Service of the Proskomide.
Prayer: “I shall wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, and shall serve before Your altar. I shall listen to the voice of Your praise and declare all Your wonders. Lord, I have loved the beauty of Your house, the place where your glory abides. Destroy not my soul with sinners, nor my life with men of blood in whose hands are transgressions; their right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I have walked in innocence. Redeem me, O Lord, and have mercy on me. My foot is set upon the straight path; in the assemblies, O Lord, I shall bless you.”
Source of prayers: The Order of the Divine and Holy Liturgy (Holy Cross Orthodox Press), 1999.
Video produced by Efstratios Papageorgiou
Written by Michael Gavalas