Clergymen are persons ordained to perform religious services.
In the Old Testament, God chose individuals to minister to His people
as priests, and consecrated them, and commanded that they dress
in specially designed robes. We read in Exodus 29:9:"And thou
shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets
on them: and the priests office shall be theirs for a perpetual
statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons".
In the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ appointed His disciples
and gave them authority to preach His works. In His appearance to
the disciples after His resurrection, He instructed them saying:
"All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore,
and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Mat 28:18-20)
After the ascension of our Lord into the heavens, the Holy Church
has decreed, through the holy apostles and fathers, that men who
possess certain good qualities be ordained as clergy through the
Sacrament of the Holy Orders. This sacrament in the Christian Church
is the objective guarantee of the perpetual presence of Christ with
His people. No clergyman acts on behalf of Christ as though He is
absent, but rather as an icon of our Lord Jesus Christ, manifesting
His presence amidst His Church, which He has purchased with His
Precious Blood. No person is considered authorized if he was not
a member of the chain of the apostolic succession which was established
by our Lord Himself.
St. Mark the Evangelist was the disciple who converted Egypt to
Christianity. In his first visit to Egypt, he stayed seven years
preaching and teaching the people, who readily accepted the Faith
with zeal. Guided by the Holy Spirit, he found worthy individuals
whom he appointed as bishops, presbyters, and deacons through the
laying of the hands, men who would carry out the Heavenly
ministry according to Gods holy will.
The Holy Order of the Coptic Orthodox Church may be grouped into
three basic general ranks:
The episcopate, meaning the order of the bishop, or the shepherd.
The presbyterate, in reference to the order of the priest, or the
The deaconate, meaning the order of the deacon, or the server.
In his letter to the Magnesians, St. Ignatius instructed them to
Be zealous to do all things in harmony with God, with the
bishop presiding in the place of God, and the presbyters in the
place of the council of the apostles, and the deacons, who are most
dear to me, honored as a type of the Holy Spirit, entrusted with
the service of Jesus Christ, Who was from eternity with the Father
and was made manifest at the end of time
Be diligent therefore
to be confirmed in the ordinances of the Lord and the apostles,
in order that you may prosper in all things whatsoever
ye do" (Ps. 1:3).
The clergyman, who is chosen for the ministry, is consecrated by
the Breath of the Holy Spirit, Who gives him the grace,
power, and authority to fulfill the duties of his rank. Though all
Christians have received the seal of the Holy Spirit at Baptism
through the water and the Holy Myron Oil, the descent of the Holy
Spirit upon the candidate at the ordination is the special gift
of authority to perform the duties required in the priesthood.
After the laying of the hands, the new clergyman is
given a new name after one of the saints. A new name may be given
to the clergyman as he moves from one rank, or sub-rank to another.
This is similar to when our Lord Jesus Christ gave new names to
His chosen apostles. The new name indicates a beginning of a new
life as a servant of God, no more as a layman with worldly concerns,
but rather a dedicated man focused on pleasing his Lord.
Prayers are always offered to God on behalf of the Church leaders
who are entrusted with the great responsibility of saving and returning
lost souls to God. All the three liturgies of St. Basil, St. Gregory,
and St. Cyril include litanies praying for the Church clergymen.