The Sacrament of Holy Unction: The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (physical, emotional, or spiritual)

On the afternoon or evening of Great and Holy Wednesday, the Sacrament or Mystery of Holy Unction is conducted in Orthodox parishes. The Sacrament of Holy Unction is offered for the healing of soul and body and for forgiveness of sins. At the conclusion of the service of the Sacrament, the body is anointed with oil, and the grace of God, which heals infirmities of soul and body, is called down upon each person. The Sacrament is performed by a gathering of priests, ideally seven in number, however, it can be performed by a lesser number and even by a single priest. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The First Week of Great Lent – Clean Monday… Redeeming the time

Wash yourselves, and ye shall be clean; put away the wicked ways from your souls before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17.learn to do well; diligently seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow. 18.Come then, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: and though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; and though they red like crimson, I will make them white as wool. 19.If then ye be willing, and obedient unto Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; 20.but if ye desire not, nor will obey me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.(Is 1:1-20, First Monday of Great Lent, the Sixth Hour)

Everyone needs to frequently wash. The accumulated grime of the day is unsightly, unpleasant and unhealthy. If we wash carefully, and ignore no dirty place, then we will be invigorated, and healthy, but if we ignore some place for a long time, that place will fester and cause us to be ill.

Great Lent is especially a time for careful washing. In us there may be wicked ways: thoughts, feelings, priorities and habits that are not immediately apparent, and are all displeasing to God. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

What is Forgiveness Sunday? (included are readings in greek)

We enter today the period of the Great Fast in preparation for Pascha. We are called to repent, to forgive, to pray, to fast from food and passions remembering the exile of Adam from Paradise banished because of uncontrolled desire to eat from the tree. It is the Sunday of Forgiveness. Reconciliation with God and restoration from the exile of sin is given to all who seek it through repentance and confession. We make a beginning in forgiving one another and asking for forgiveness which is the purpose of the special Vespers this afternoon. Our relationship with God is not outside and distinct from our personal relationships.

God is love. He makes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on both the good and the evil so that all have a chance to apprehend His love and repent. If we show God-like love in forgiving one another we shall also be forgiven. Full of gratitude to God for this promise and experience of forgiveness of our own sins we extend this forgiveness to all who trespass against us. In forgiving one another we release ourselves from the heavy chains of pride which imprison our souls. If we do not forgive one another we can have no communion with the God of forgiveness. We remain in the self exile of pride and outside of salvation. But today we are called to freedom through the cross of struggle against sin. Sorrowing for our sins we rejoice that these holy days lie before us in which we can draw closer to the great love and mercy of God. In our ascetical strivings we are warned not to let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. We are not to count, nor advertise our fasting which is a tool and not an end in itself. The Great Fast is not essentially about food but about returning to God. There is no evil in food nor in the body which needs it to live but our return to God is not possible when the soul is subject to the body and to the uncontrolled desires and appetites of fallen man. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

THE SPIRIT OF TRUE CHRISTIANITY

Christ Pantokrator, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Pskov (1988).

Christ Pantokrator, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Pskov (1988).

By Archpriest Paul O’ Callaghan

In any form of religious belief, one of the most common questions is, “What does God (or the gods) require of us?” And of course, the different religions all answer that differently. In Judaism, for instance, keeping the 613 commandments of Moses is what God wants. In Islam, he requires one to pray 5 times a day, to abstain from pork and wine, to fast during Ramadan, and to make a pilgrimage to Mecca if possible. In the Sikh religion of India, men must wear a turban on their heads, read a six page prayer in the morning, and bathe in the holy pool in Amritsar as often as possible. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »