Sacrament of Confession

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St. Cosmas Aitolos

Perhaps the most misunderstood sacrament of the Christian Church is confession (or repentance). How did it originate? What role does a priest play? Is there a special procedure for confession? The Holy Scriptures hold answers to these questions.

God’s Word promises «If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness» (1 John 1:9). The faithful are to bring their sins to God in repentance and receive cleansing and forgiveness.

The early Christians would stand and confess their sins to God in the presence of the whole congregation. Jesus encouraged His followers to walk in the light together, to confront problems corporately, to «tell it to the church» (Matt. 18:17). Thus James writes, «Confess your trespasses to one another» (James 5:16). But as time went on and the Church grew in numbers, strangers came to visit and public confession became more difficult. Out of mercy, priests began to witness confessions of sin privately on behalf of the Church.

Jesus, giving His disciples the authority to forgive sin, said, «If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained» (John 20:23; c.f. Matt. 16:19, 18:17-19). From the beginning, Christians understood that the grace of ordination endowed the shepherd of the flock with the discernment and compassion to speak the words of remission, on behalf of Christ, regarding the sins of those who confess and turn from sin. For God has promised the removing of sin from us «as far as the east is from the west» (Ps. 103:12). St. John Chrysostom says, «The priests decree below, God confirms above, and the Master agrees with the opinion of His slaves». Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Sacrament (Mystery) of Unction

Jesus Healing a Blind Man. Batik. Dr. P. Solomon Raj, India.

Jesus Healing a Blind Man. Batik. Dr. P. Solomon Raj, India.

 

Healing

The Orthodox Church has always viewed body and soul as inseparable thus stressing the necessity for preserving both in good health, following Jesus Christ’s exhortation to his disciples to «heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons» (Matthew 10:10). This follows Christ’s ministry to «heal the brokenhearted, and to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind» (Luke 4:18; see Is 61:1), and to heal «all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease (Matt. 4:23). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Sacrament of Ordination

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Christ sending forth His apostles. Byzantien fresco from Cappadocia (ca 12th century)

Sacraments (or Mysteries) are holy actions of the Church by which spiritual life is imparted to those receiving them. Ordination, which means «to set in place» or «to select by the outreached hand,» is one of several Orthodox sacraments. It is extended specifically to bishops, presbyters (priests) and deacons, and generally to all through Holy Baptism.

(1) Bishops

In His ministry… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Marriage

Ο Γάμος εν Κανά. Περιοδικό Πεμπτουσία, τεύχος 3, σελίδα 148

The Wedding in Cana. Fresco from the Church of St. Sophia in Trebizond (Pontus), ca. 1250-1270. ("Pemptousia" magazine, issue 3, pg. 148)

The family is the basic unit or ‘cell’ of society, and the Christian family is also a major building block of the Orthodox Church. The Church places greet importance on the family to fulfil its role as a small church, as expressed by the Apostle Paul. When St. Paul greeted Priscilla and Aquila, his «fellow workers in Christ Jesus» he also greeted «the church that is in their house» (Romans 16:3, 5). He also greeted «Nymphas and the church that is in his house» (Col 4:15). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Sacrament of Chrismation

The Pentecost. Painting by Jean Restout (1732).

The Pentecost. Painting by Jean Restout (1732).

From earliest times the church has practised chrismation immediately following baptism. In the sacrament of chrismation (Gr. chrismatis, «anointing») the newly baptised person receives the Holy Spirit through the anointing with oil by the bishop or priest. The roots of this sacrament are clear in both the Old and New Testaments, and are especially brought to light on the Day of Pentecost. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism in the Orthodox Christian Church

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Why infant Baptism ?

Holy Baptism is the first of seven Sacraments in the Orthodox Christian Church. Together with the Sacrament of Holy Chrism it joins the candidate to the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Some people argue that the only valid baptism is that of an adult who believes in Christ first. They argue that to baptise a helpless infant only a few weeks old who is unable to believe is meaningless. So why baptise a baby when it doesn’t know yet what is happening? Why not wait for the baby to grow and believe in Christ and ask for baptism? If we were to follow this line of reasoning, we wouldn’t inoculate the baby against diphtheria until he grows up and asks for it! But we know better. Baptising infants before they know what is going on is an expression of God’s great love for us. It shows that God loves us and accepts us before we can ever know and love Him. It shows that we are wanted and loved by God from the very moment of our birth. Nothing shows the nature of God’s grace more than infant baptism. The Orthodox Church does not belittle personal faith in an adult who seeks baptism, but instead insists that the whole emphasis of baptism is not an what the baby does or the parents or the godparents, but on what God does. The fact that we are Christians is not due to any act on our part; it is due to the act of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Of course Baptism demands a personal response on the part of the baptised child when it reaches the age of reason. The child must accept what God did for him or her in Baptism. Baptism is not a divine pass that will get us into Heaven automatically. It must be followed by a personal awareness or awakening to the many gifts of God’s love bestowed upon us through this great sacrament. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »