The steps an Orthodox monk or nun goes through in their religious vocation are known as Schemas or the degrees of monasticism.
The Eastern Orthodox Church deliberately takes time with the monastic ordination process since the vows signed are seen as a lifetime commitment to God. Before acquiring the monastic habit, a person must complete three degrees, or steps, in the preparation process. At first there is the Novice stage, which is later followed by the Rasophore (the Robe-bearer) and the Stavrophore (the Cross-bearer) to achieve the highest degree of the spiritual path which is the Great Schema.
The various monastic schemas are represented by different symbols and clothing that the monks wear. Also there are variations according to the orientation of the monasteries.
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