The Church is an organized society. It is composed of all the baptized persons who are united in the same Faith, the same Holy Communion, the same Sacraments, and under the same Ecclesiastical authority. Those who exercise this ecclesiastical authority form the clergy of officers of the Church who serve God, teach and sanctify the faithful, and govern the Church. This authority to serve, to teach, to sanctify and to govern is not given by election or appointment, but by a sacred sacrament called ordination.
Ordination of the Holy Orders is one of the important sacraments of the 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.
It is true that by Baptism all Christians are endowed with the “priesthood” of laymen, who have thus the obligation to offer up to God the spiritual sacrifices of thanksgiving, prayers and acts of faith, hope, and charity. But only those men who receive the sacrament of the Holy Orders are clergyman of God in the full sense of the word.
The Sacrament of Ordination is always administered by a Bishop. There are various ranks of clergy within the Church, and consequently, there are various services by which each one of these ranks is granted. However, the one act that is common to all the ranks is the “Laying of the hands” (Tzernatroutiun in Armenian) by the Bishop. 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.
For the ordination of any cleric, except a bishop, one bishop is sufficient to administer the Sacrament. The consecration of a Bishop, according to the rules of the Armenian Church, is performed by His Holiness the Catholicos, having at least two other Bishops assisting him at the Ordination. The consent of the laity is expressed formally at the service of Ordination by the choir when they sing: “He is worthy”.
Before entering the major ranks of ecclesiastical order of the Armenian Church, a person must have been ordained to the four minor ranks. To read more about the ranks of the Holy Orders visit the website of the Holy See.