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Sacraments

Instituted directly or indirectly by Jesus Christ, they are necessary for our salvation

Sacraments of the Orthodox Church are ceremonies embodying tangible signs of the Divine Grace inscribing in an invisible way, through a supernatural energy on the souls of the recipients, their redeeming effects, and regenerating them in the life of Christ.The Greek word is ‘mysterion’ from which the words mystical and mysticism come from. Its root is the verb ‘myo’ which means to close the eyes for the purpose of protecting them from an extraordinary vision of deity.The sacraments of which there are Seven were established by Christ directly (Baptism and the Eucharist), or through his Apostles who instituted them under Christ’s teaching with the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Marriage, Confession, Unction and Ordination).

Since they were initiated by Christ Himself, or by the implicit request of Christ, they are necessary for our salvation. They were instituted as a means of transmitting Grace based on the needs of the believers. This is not to limit the action of the Holy Spirit as it can surely act outside of these ceremonies. But, Grace can only be received through Baptism and the Eucharist which were directly established by Christ.

Sacraments have both an outward and inward aspect. John Chrysostom says, “We see one thing and we believe another.” The Sacraments of the church are both symbols and bearers of Divine Grace.

A Sacrament to be valid must be performed by a Priest and cannot be performed out side the Church. The Priest serves as an instrument and is not the responsible principal of the sacrament. As Saint John Chrysostom says, “the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit perform while the priest lends his tongue and extends his hand.”

  1. Chrismation This is normally done immediately following Baptism. The priest takes a special ointment and anoints various parts of the child’s body. He or she receives in chrismation the gift of the spirit becoming a laikos (layperson), a full member of the people of God.
  2. Holy Communion Holy Communion, instituted by Christ himself, is offered through the Divine Liturgy where the bread and wine become the actual blood and body of Christ. It is taken for the forgiveness of sins and to become a integral part of the body of Christ.
  3. Holy Unction “Evchelaion” or the ‘oil of prayer’ is for the healing of the sick. Oil is blessed and we receive the gift of the Holy spirit through anointing to heal our bodies and souls.
  4. Marriage Married life is a special vocation requiring the gift of charisma from the Holy Spirit. This is conferred in the rite of Holy Matrimony. The ceremony consists of a betrothal and a crowning. The bride and groom are crowned signifying the special grace the couple receives from the Holy spirit.
  5. Confession This is for the healing of the soul. In the presence of the priest as a witness and God’s minister, we ask God for forgiveness of our sins.
  6. Ordination Only a Bishop has the power to ordain. Ordination requires the approval of the entire congregation.