The Mystery of Confession –
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (I Jn 1:5-10)
Our Church holds Confession as one of the Seven Main Sacraments. It is amazing, and shame, how few of us practice it. Especially during the times of the year in which the Church calls us to repentance, when we should be looking at our lives and evaluating our relationship with God. We can turn our sins from something negative to something positive. Through self-examination and repentance (metanoia- a change of heart) our sins can become something that bring us closer to God. Our sins become not an end to our relationship with God, but a new beginning.
Preparing for Confession –
We must first inspect our souls and consciences before we’re ready for the Sacrament of Confession. Our relationship with God can never be reduced to a list of mistakes. That’s why Confession isn’t simply a listing of our sins. We need to introspect and examine our deeds and imperfections. Many times our sins, the shortcomings in our spiritual life, are not necessarily something that we did wrong, but something that we failed to do right, or that we ignored all together.
Confessions are heard Monday through Friday, 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM and before Divine liturgy
The Mystery of Chrismation –
Chrismation always follows the Sacrament of Baptism. While the Baptism brings us into the family of Christians, Chrismation brings us the power of the Holy Spirit. We may say that it seals us as a Christian, and brings us into the Church. In other words, we’re marked with the Holy Spirit, and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are set apart from those who have not been sealed by the Holy Spirit. These gifts help us be the best Followers of Christ we can, and help the Church do it’s job in the world.
The Mystery of Baptism –
Baptism is the first Sacrament we participate in as Christians, it makes us a member of Christ’s Church and is the beginning of a new Christian life. The Church takes new members of the Church (usually infants) and Baptizes them by the priest with water and the Spirit.
The Mystery of Holy Communion –
Holy Communion celebrated in the Divine Liturgy is the main Sacrament of the Orthodox Church. In the Divine Liturgy we are closer to Jesus than at any other times in our lives. Holy Communion is a personal meeting with Christ. This is where we meet him and invite Him into our hearts. When we take Holy Communion we actually come into contact with Jesus’ Body and Blood. Joining together in Holy Communion is what makes us a Parish or Community in Christ.
Preparing for Communion-
A Christian should be properly prepared to receive Communion. We can’t forget the sanctity and gravity of coming before Christ. It’s important that we fast, not only by watching what goes into our mouths, but also what comes out. All Christians should fast on Wednesdays because of Jesus’ betrayal and on Friday because of His death. Along with the seasonal Fasts, there is also a special fast for Holy Communion: no food following the evening meal, nothing to drink after midnight and nothing in the morning. If extenuating circumstances exist, they should be discussed with one’s Spiritual Father. There are also prayers that should be recited prior to receiving. These can be found in most Orthodox Prayer Books and in the Liturgy Books found in our pews. Confession is also an integral part of preparing for Holy Communion. We can’t embrace one Sacrament and ignore the others. All aspects of the Church work together to bring us closer to Christ.
How often should we receive Communion-
t has recently become the norm to receive Holy Communion only three or four times a year, if that often. Frequent Communion is the only means by which a believer can renew his inner life and remain oriented toward the experience of being with the Lord as our lives change every day. St. Basil and the Canons of our Church make it clear that a Christian should be prepared to receive every time Communion is offered, unless there are extenuating circumtances to be worked out with one’s Spiritual Father. We must remember that we’re never truly worthy to receive, it’s a gift we must be ready to receive.
The Mystery of Marriage –
Marriage is a Sacrament of the Orthodox Church in which a man and woman solemnly vow before Christ, the priest and the congregation to be true to each other for life. Their union is blessed by Christ through the Church. God’s grace is imparted to them to live together in His love, mutually fulfilling and perfecting each other – two individuals becoming one. Fr. John Meyendorff wrote, “in marriage human love is being projected into the kingdom of God.” St. Paul tells us that marriage reflects the intimate union between Christ and the Church. Married life receives the grace of the Holy Spirit through the Marriage Service. As are all Sacraments, marriage was instituted by Christ. Jesus’ first miracle was at the Wedding at Cana (Jn. 2:1-11), where through His presence He declared marriage to be honorable and holy.
The Mystery of Holy Unction –
As a result of humanity’s turning away from God and our ancestral sin, sickness, pain and suffering are an every day part of life. As Orthodox Christians we don’t see sickness and death as Divine retribution, or as God’s punishment for our evil. We see sickness and death as a direct result of the absence of God in the world due to our alienation and rejection of Him. We see death not as a punishment, but especially in the Light of Christ’s Resurrection, as the opportunity for salvation. This is where our life is restored to its fulness in our own resurrection. In God’s divine plan for us we see that through His Son He means for us to live. The only death that is eternal is spiritual death. From which there is no hope of salvation.
The Mystery of Ordination –
Jesus is the unique and true priest of the Church. All priestly ministries of the Orthodox Church have Christ as their source. He perfectly offers himself to unite fallen humanity and God. God’s priesthood is made up of the royal priesthood of all believers and the ministerial priesthood.