What Are the Seven Sacraments?
The Seven Sacraments in the Orthodox Church are also referred to as Holy Mysteries. They are highly personal and are in place to help us become more like Christ. The word “sacrament” comes from the Latin word, sacramentum, which means, “to consecrate”. They are an important part of the Orthodox Christian faith because they help us become more like Christ, which is the goal of every Christian.
Of the seven sacraments, five of them are considered a vital part of our Christian lives. The other two, Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony, are those that not everyone is required to do. Each sacrament has its own ceremony, or part of a ceremony, associated with it.
This sacrament is one of the nonessential ones because not everyone is called to enter the clergy. Not only that, but in the Greek Orthodox Church, women are unable to become priests and bishops. Those who do enter the clergy receive this sacrament gladly.
Holy Matrimony is also one of those sacraments that not everyone will do. Certain clergy members, for example, take a vow of celibacy, which means that they won’t be able to experience Holy Matrimony. It is through this ceremony where the man and woman vow to commit their lives to God. If you somehow realize that your marriage isn’t working out and want to divorce, Orthodox Christians need to take an extra step to get a special divorce from the church.
During Holy Baptism, the individual is washed clean of his or her sins to create a new life in Christ’s kingdom. It is the first sacrament performed and one that can be completed only once. It is the preference of the church to perform this sacrament on infants. Though they don’t remember the ceremony, the church feels that infant baptism is the best approach.
Holy Chrism is performed after Holy Baptism during the Christening ceremony. It is through Chrismation that the new Christian receives the Holy Spirit. The individual is anointed with oil that has been blessed by the Ecumenical Patriarch. After the anointing, three locks of hair are taken from the person’s head as a gift.
Typically, the first time an Orthodox Christian received communion is shortly after the Christening. Though this is completely optional, most priests do it at the end of the ceremony. Through Holy Communion, we receive the body and blood of Christ.
As Christians, we strive to be like Christ, who is perfect because He is fully man and fully God. Since sin entered into our lives through the actions of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we always fall short. By confessing our sins, it helps us not only get closer to God, but also to become more like Jesus.
The general purpose of this sacrament is for healing of both our physical and spiritual ills. We believe that God will heal us if it is His will. When the priest prepares the oil, he asks the Holy Spirit to bless it. He then anoints us. Usually, this takes place during Holy Week.
The Sacraments, or Holy Mysteries, are an important part of the life of the Orthodox Church. It is important to participate in the Sacraments on a regular basis, especially Holy Communion, which is offered to us on a weekly basis at our Divine Liturgy services.
Categorized in: Greek Orthodox Religious Information
This post was written by Greek Boston