The sacraments of the Orthodox Church: a brief description and meaning
Rites and Sacraments
- repentance (confession);
These Sacraments were determined by the Lord Christ Himself; he commanded his disciples to bring to people the light of the divine truth of the gospel. Through the Sacraments we gain the grace of the Holy Spirit, mercy and salvation.
It is in finding grace that the Sacrament differs from other ceremonies and actions in the church.
If during prayer or funeral services we rely on God’s mercy and are not sure whether we will get an answer. That during the Sacraments the grace of God resides on believers constantly.
If during ceremonial actions we express our faith and reverence before God, then during the Sacrament the grace descends upon the flock.
Communion is the most important of all the sacraments of the Church, when a believer is united in spirit with the flesh and blood of the Savior. It is thanks to him that we gain the heritage of eternal life.
The word «Eucharist» is translated from Greek as «thanksgiving.» We thank Jesus for the gift of soul salvation.
The second most important is the sacrament of priesthood: ordination and ordination as a priest. The ordination is performed by the bishop, conveying the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit.
Particularly important of the sacraments is the baptism, with the help of it increases the number of Christians. The remaining church sacraments are necessary for the revelation of the Christian life and the holiness of the church.
What gifts does a person acquire during the Sacrament:
- at baptism, the birth of a spiritual person takes place;
- in Confirmation, the Orthodox gains strengthening grace;
- Communion feeds the believer with spiritual food;
- repentance cleanses the soul of transgressions;
- the priesthood gives grace to instruct the flock on the path of faith;
- the wedding sanctifies conjugal life;
- unction exempt from physical and mental ailments.
This sacrament was laid by the Lord Christ himself when he was personally baptized in the Jordan. After his resurrection, the Savior commanded the apostles to baptize people in the name of the Holy Trinity.
Baptism is carried out only once, because it is impossible to be born twice in a spiritual body.
Three times immersion in water symbolically washed away the original sin. After baptism, the believer becomes churchly and can receive the Holy Gifts.
After baptism, the power of the devil over the soul is completely destroyed; now he can only tempt a Christian to sin with deceit. Why does the Orthodox Church baptize babies who do not understand what is happening to them? For this, they are given godparents who vouch for their godchild and are obliged to educate him in the traditions of faith.
If the godparents fail in their duty, this places a heavy burden of sin on their shoulders.
Through this Mystery, the Christian receives special grace from the Holy Spirit to strengthen his faith and follow the path of truth. This is the seal of the Holy Spirit on man.
The apostles conducted anointing with the help of the laying on of hands, and later they began to conduct this ceremony differently — with the help of the anointing with the sacred world.
Miro is a specially prepared fir tree with fragrant substances (40 items), which the apostles blessed. Later, they were consecrated by their followers, the bishops. Today, the world is consecrated by the bishop.
With the help of the consecrated world, the seal of the Holy Spirit is put. The first anointing occurs immediately after the baptism of a person.
The seal of the Holy Spirit is placed on the forehead, eyes, lips, ears, heart, limbs. Thus, the soul and the whole body of the neophyte are sanctified. In fact, baptism and anointing is a twofold action.
At baptism, a person is born spiritually, and anointing gives the power of the Holy Spirit. After anointing, the believer becomes like the Anointed Christ.
Repentance is necessary for a Christian, it cleans from sins voluntary and involuntary. Jesus Christ blessed the disciples to forgive the sins of the flock:
For a confessing person, it is necessary to acknowledge his sins, sincerely repent and have a firm intention to correct. Jesus Christ voluntarily took the sins of mankind upon himself, suffered for each of us.
It was a voluntary sacrifice, so a Christian should be aware of the greatness of the Savior’s gift and not be ungrateful. To acknowledge your sin is a confession of atoning sacrifice, and to make a decision to correct it is gratitude for the gift of soul salvation.
The Holy Fathers say repentance is the basis of the Christian life.. Man is weak and feeble spiritually according to his nature, therefore he hopes only for the grace and mercy of God in salvation. However, the mercy of God cannot be turned into profanation and sinned unscrupulously.
This is an expression of ingratitude to the Savior. Sins alienate the believer from God, and sincere repentance and correction brings them closer.
Repentance is also called the baptism of tears..
However, it should be remembered that God sees the hearts of people, so formal repentance does not have the power and forgiveness. If a person in his heart thinks about sin, formally repenting, it causes great harm to his soul. This is called a spiritual illness.
The Orthodox should realize their sins, take a firm intention to get rid of passions and ask for help from the Lord in correction.
Sincere repentance prepares us for the Last Judgment. Anyone who constantly confesses and seeks to improve, you can not be afraid to hold an answer before God.
No need to be ashamed of the priest who confesses, because he was set for this purpose by God himself. You need to be afraid and ashamed of unrepentant sin. If a person suffers from forgetfulness, you can write down his sins on paper and read the priest.
It is important not to forget anything.
When a child turns 7, parents should prepare him for the first confession, on which his future life as a Christian depends. You can not frighten the child with God’s punishment, it is necessary to instill the love of God and often talk about his care.
Fear of punishment may lead to the further abandonment of faith by an adult child.
You need to help your child overcome shyness before confession, help and endorse his determination to talk about sins. Therefore, for the first confession, children are prepared in advance, and not put before the fact.
The task of parents is to explain the meaning of repentance and the danger of sinful acts for the soul. The danger should not be presented to the child as something fatal, but by the grief of a god — a loving father.
It is necessary to instill in the child a trusting attitude towards the priest and confession, to explain the importance of repentance for his correct relationship with the heavenly father.
Sacrament of communion
The Eucharist is one of the most important sacraments, when a believer joins the Holy Gifts and becomes one with Jesus Christ. Without the sacrament, it is impossible to enter eternal life and gain the heritage of the kingdom of heaven. The Eucharist was determined by the Lord Christ at the last supper, when he broke the bread and called it his Body.
Having given the apostles wine, he called it his Blood. Since then, believers constantly take Communion of the Holy Gifts at divine services.
How can wine be transformed into blood and bread into the body? This cannot be explained logically, since it is a question of spiritual things.
Wine and bread do not change their physical properties, but their spiritual component changes.
However, the apostles warned that the Holy Ghost should receive the Communion with dignity, since unworthily communion eats and drinks condemnation to himself.
The sacrament of communion is called in Greek the Eucharist (thanksgiving). It is held at the services and is the central part of the liturgy. It is the sincere participation in the church life and the communion that makes the believer a true minister of Christ and the executor of his commandments.
For faith without works is dead. The Eucharist is a memory of the voluntary sacrifice of Christ, it is an expression of gratitude for salvation and the inheritance of the kingdom of God.
Jesus voluntarily went to church suffering, giving his body and blood to atone for the sins of mankind. In gratitude for this sacrifice, the faithful receive Holy Communion weekly communion.
Why is anointing called an unction? Because the sacrament is sent 7 priests (cathedral).
But in modern practice, an ordination may be sent by one minister. The first meetings were carried out by the apostles, receiving grace to heal the sick.
A sick person gains the grace of healing, but not always. It depends on the mercy of God, and not on the zeal of the priests in reading prayers and scriptures. How does unction differ from repentance?
The fact that the believer is forgiven even those sins that he forgot about or didn’t pay attention to. It is believed that the disease overtakes a person because of the sins committed, therefore it is very important to repent before teaching.
If the Christian is unconscious, then the unction is carried out without his participation. However, this person should be an active member of the church, and not just be an Orthodox.
Ambrose of Optina said:
The Gospel states that the apostles who received the grace of healing were healed with the anointing with the oil of many of the sick. And now the Sacrament of anointing helps to raise seriously ill people to their feet, relieves sincere believers from the mental and physical sorrows.
The miracle of healing cannot be explained rationally, for it happens by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God.
There is an opinion among the people that the unction is carried out exclusively over dying people. This is not a correct opinion, since the apostles have commanded to consecrate with oil simply gravely sick and ill people.
However, anointing is the last anointing in the life of every Christian who is on the threshold of eternity. Do not fall into superstition and think that after unction the patient will certainly die.
It’s a delusion, after all, many sick after anxiety fully healed.
Is it necessary to continue treatment with medicines after the recovery? Of course, it is necessary to bring the treatment to the end as prescribed by the doctor.
As soon as the patient becomes better, you should come to church for communion.
During church weddings, the newlyweds gain the grace of the Holy Spirit and the blessing of a happy married life. The wedding symbolizes the union of the Lord Christ with the church, therefore marriage is considered sacred. The Apostle Paul pointed out:
At the same time, it should be realized that the wedding is not a kind of magical rite that unites the husband and wife forever. Spouses must lead a pious life, take part in church life and bring up children in Orthodox traditions.
God sends his grace to those who are crowned, but they must live according to the gospel commandments. Unfortunately, not all married couples understand this to the end, but simply hope for a miracle or magic.
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