The Sacraments and the Standing of the Orthodox Christian

6,000 Martyrs of the St David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

As we approach Holy and Great Week, more and more Orthodox Christians will be attending the holy services and many more will be desiring the receive the divine Sacraments of the Church, however, not everyone who attends is eligible to receive them according to our Holy Orthodox Church, the Holy Canons and Tradition. The reason for this is that not every Orthodox Christian is spiritually in good standing with the Church.

According to the Uniform Regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America "a parishioner in good standing is "every person who is baptized and chrismated according to the rites of the Orthodox Church is a parishioner. The religious, moral and social duties of a parishioner are to apply the tenets of the Orthodox Faith to his/her life and to: adhere to and live according to the tenets of the Orthodox Faith; faithfully attend the Divine Liturgy and other worship services; participate regularly in the Holy Sacraments; respect all ecclesiastical authority and all governing bodies of the Church; be obedient in matters of the faith, practice and ecclesiastical order; contribute towards the progress of the Church's sacred mission; and be an effective witness and example of the Orthodox Faith and Traditions to all people…no person shall be deemed a parishioner in good standing while: not adhering to the standards outlined in Sections 1 and 2 of this article: retaining affiliation in an Orthodox parish which defies the jurisdiction or the or the ecclesiastical authority of the Archdiocese; being a member of or practicing a non-Orthodox faith or other religion; and deliberately disregarding and transgressing the moral law of the Church."
Holy Communion and all the Sacraments as well as Church funerals

* Couples who are not married in the Orthodox Church cannot participate in the Sacrament of Holy Communion until they are married in the Orthodox Church. Those co-habitating out of wedlock cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the Sacraments of the Church.

*The Church does not permit divorce, but because of love and compassion, the Church tolerates it and with "pain" may issue an ecclesiastical divorce. Those, however, who have obtained a civil divorce but have not been released from the Church through Spiritual Court, cannot receive Holy Communion, nor be a Sponsor at a Baptism or a Wedding.

*A funeral service cannnot be performed in Church for those who have committed suicide. Under no circumstances does our Church allow a person to be cremated. A religious service cannot be performed. An Orthodox Christian who is not married in the Orthodox Church cannot have a church funeral service. Also, an Orthodox Christian who was married, received a civil divorce but not an ecclesiastical divorce cannot be buried in the Church.

*An Orthodox Christian who has been absent from the Church for many months and years cannot receive the Sacraments until he is reinstated in the life of the Church through the Sacrament of Repentance and Holy Confession.

How do I get back into good standing?

The Orthodox Christian who sincerely wants to become an Orthodox Christian in good standing needs to meet with his/her priest and the priest will explain the necessary steps that he/she needs to take in order to accomplish this.

Please have the above in mind before you line up to receive either Holy Communion, Holy Unction (Holy Oil) or any other Sacraments of the Church.

Don't take it for granted because you were baptized and chrismated in the Orthodox Church that you are entitled to receive the Sacraments. An Orthodox Christian who does not conform to the teachings, holy canons and laws of the Church looses all his/her privileges and rights.

The monthly bulletin of our parish contains all the information necessary to become a member in good standing.

With love in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George