| PREPARATION OF THE CELEBRANT PRIEST|
Before the “Orthros” or Matins (morning prayers), the Priest prepares himself for the Divine Liturgy by special prayers recited outside the Iconostasion (Altar screen) before the Royal Doors. After paying his respects, he enters the Sanctuary through the North Door saying:
“I will enter Thy House and in Thy fear, I will worship toward Thy Holy Temple.”
The Priest then proceeds to vest.
There are 5 main vestments worn by the priest. Preparing to wear each of these parts of his Vestments, the Priest blesses them with the sign of the cross and kisses each. These 5 are as follows:
The Sticharion is the inner garment, reaching to the floor. It signifies the purity of the heart, that should be inseparable from the Priestly Office. When putting on the Sticharion, the priest recites the following prayer:
“My soul shall exalt in the Lord, for He has endued me with the robe of salvation, and with the garment of joy has He clothed me. He has set a crown on my head like a bridegroom, and like a bride He has adorned me with comeliness.” (Isaiah 61:10).
2. EPITRACHELION (Stole) (meaning “on the neck”)
The Epitrachelion (stole) signifies the outpouring of Grace from Above on the Priest. It also symbolizes the Cross carried by Our Lord upon His shoulders. No priest may perform any mystery of the church without wearing his Epitrachelion. It is the only “required” vestment. When putting on the Epitrachelion the priest recites the following:
“Blessed is God, Who pours His grace on His Priests, like the balm on the head, that ran down the beard, even Aaron’s beard, down to the skirts of his garment.” (Psalm 133:2).
3. ZONI (Belt):
The Zoni (Belt) is worn over the Sticharion and Epitrachelion. This girding shows a Priest’s readiness for service and the strength he receives from the Holy Spirit to succeed in his mission. Placing on the belt, the priest says:
“Blessed is God Who girds me with strength, and makes my way perfect.”(Psalm 133:2)
4. EPIMANIKIA (Cuffs – 2 pieces):
The Epimanikia symbolize the creativeness and omnipotence of God. When wearing the first cuff, the priest prays, saying:
“Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorified in strength. Thy right hand, O Lord, has shattered the enemy, and through the multitude of Thy glory Thou hast crushed Thine adversaries.” Exodus 15:6-7)
And when placing the second cuff, the priest says:
“Thy hands have made me moulded me; giving me understanding, and I will learn Thy Commandments.” (Psalm 119:73)
5. PHELONION (Chasuble) (The outer vestment in the form of a cape):
The Phelonion signifies the crimson Robe, which our Lord Jesus wore. Placing the Phelonion over his head, the priest says:
“Let Thy Priests be clothed with righteousness; and let Thy Saints shout for joy, always, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.” (Psalm 132:9)
After fully vesting, the priest then washes his hands to signify cleanliness, reciting:
“I will wash my hands among the innocent, and so will I go round Thine Altar, O Lord.” (Psalm 26:6)
The priest is now ready to serve the Divine Liturgy.