Respecting the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church

St. Onuphrius of the St. David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

St. Onuphrius of the St. David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

Dear friends in Christ our Lord,
Christ is in our midst!

"The inward life of the Church is mystical (or sacramental). [The word "mysteries" (Greek mysteria) is the term used in the Orthodox East; "sacraments" (Latin sacramental), the term used in the Latin West."

The inward life of the Church is the mystical cooperation of Christ as the Head, with the Church as His Body, in the Holy Spirit, by means of all mutually strengthening ties: "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church," instructs the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:32).

Therefore when the Apostles called themselves "stewards of the mysteries of God," saying "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Corinthians 4:1, in Greek oikonomous mysterion Theou), they have in mind various forms of their ministry and stewardship, as for example: a) preaching, b) the baptism of those who have come to believe, c) the bringing down of the Holy Spirit through ordination, d) the strengthening of the unity of the faithful with Christ through the Mystery of the Eucharist, and e) the further deepening of the hearts of the faithful in the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, the deepening of the more perfect among them in the "wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom" (1 Corinthians 2:6-7).

The name of "mystery" has become established in the Church as referring to seven rites: Baptism, Chrismation, Communion (the Eucharist), Repentance, Priesthood, Matrimony, and Unction. [In the Orthodox Church, one may say, seven is not regarded as the "absolute" number of the Mysteries, as it tends to be regarded in the Roman Catholic Church.]

The Mysteries (Sacraments) are "means which unfailingly act by grace upon those who come to them, as is said in the Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs. However, the fruitfulness of their reception by believers--their renewing and saving power--depends upon whether a man approaches the Mystery worthily. An unworthy reception of it can draw upon oneself not justification, but condemnation. Grace does not interfere with the freedom of man; it does not act upon him irresistibly. Often people, making use of the Mysteries of faith, do not receive from them that which they could give; for their hearts are not open to receive grace, or else they have not preserved the gifts of God which they have received. This is why it happens that baptized people not only do not fulfill the vows given by them or their sponsors at baptism, and not only are deprived of the grace of God already given to them, but often, to their own spiritual perdition, they become enemies of God, deniers, unbelievers, "apostates." (Source: Dogmatic Theology by Fr. Michael Pomazansky)

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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

+Father George