My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE SEVEN MYSTERIES (SACRAMENTS) OF ORTHODOXY WHICH CHRIST LEFT US THAT WE MAY BE SAVED.
"Man is a rational creature. An image of God, for this reason he should repent, confess, tame, limit and annihilate his passions, so that he can reach the likeness of His Creator and God."
It would be good for us to briefly refer to the Seven Sacraments of our Most Holy Church, which the heretics essentially reject, even though they seemingly believe in some and others--because they are deceived--they reject. They act and preach in such a way so as to confuse the Christians and many of our brethren fall into their traps.
And certain souls suffer this and are trapped because, either they got angry with the Church of Christ because something probably was not pleasing to their ego, or because as Orthodox Christians they lived in indifference and complete ignorance of the invaluable treasure which Orthodox Christianity possesses. All however who threw away the lost Christ from their hands and embrace, who is the gold and the priceless pearl, and ended up in the murky waters and the mud of some heresy, have themselves become persecutors of Christianity and struggle to proselytize other indifferent and naive people also, insisting with great determination on teaching them their deception.
The Holy Apostle Paul in his Second Letter to Timothy writes the following:
"While evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (St. Timothy 3:13, 15).
What misfortune our wretched brethren worthy of tears have, to have become instruments and servants of the wicked demon and thus "deceiving and being deceived" they fall into hell, because a heresy rarely repents.
Returning to our subject of the Seven Sacraments, we wish to say, furthermore, that these are separated into two categories: the first category has the four obligatory Mysteria (Sacraments) and the second has the three voluntary Mysteria (Sacraments).
In the obligatory ones great care is especially necessary, because every Orthodox Christian must participate in these in order to be considered a living member of the Church and to not be cut off on his own from her Holy Trunk leaving his salvation doubtful.
Setting out from these, the first is Holy Baptism through which man is able to be reborn in Christ "Through water and the Spirit" from our Mother Church-to cleanse the Image of God within in order to be ready to receive the Likeness through his participation in the remaining Sacraments of our Church and to be numbered with the inheritors of God's Kingdom, so long as the soul itself struggles the good struggle. For this reason, as we may have noticed, the font, has a round shape to symbolize the womb of the Mother Church from which we are reborn spiritually.
This sacred Sacrament was instituted by the Lord Himself a little before His Ascension. His instituting words: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (St. Matthew 28:19) and "go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation, he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (St. Mark 16:15-16). Also, during his conversation with Nikodemos, the Lord categorically declared that "unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (St. John 3:5).
Second Mysterion (Sacrament) is Holy Chrism with which the newly enlightened Christian is anointed immediately after holy Baptism in order to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are different for each person, according to the Holy Fathers of the Church.
The material of the Holy Chrism is made of 49 aromatic substances which symbolize the infinite gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is prepared every ten years on Holy Thursday in a special service at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the presence of representatives of all the Orthodox Patriarchates.
The Third Divinely instituted Mysterion (Sacrament), obligatory for our salvation, like the two former ones, is Sacred Repentance and Confession...I remind you of the words of our Lord towards His Holy Disciples, at the moment in which He instituted the Sacrament blowing upon Them with His Godly Breath, saying: "Receive the Holy Spirit, whosoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven them. Whosoever sins you retain, they are retained" (St. John 20:22), and again elsewhere as well "Amen I say unto you, whatever you bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (St. Matthew 18:18).
Thus my beloved Orthodox Christians, it is not necessary for us to say anything to them who deny and reject this Great Sacrament of our Holy Church, because they received the response above from our Lord Himself. Suffice that they search and find an experienced, discerning and good Spiritual Father!
The fourth and last also great and obligatory Sacrament, is the Divine Eucharist which our Lord again instituted on Holy and Great Thursday at the Mystical ("Last") Supper. The Sacrament is celebrated in the Divine Liturgy which we serve every Sunday and on Feasts or which we can also serve every day, with exception of the weekdays of Holy and Great Lent of Pascha in which we offer, as an indication of mourning, Presanctified Divine Liturgies, in which case the Precious Gifts are presanctified at a Divine Liturgy on the Saturday or Sunday. Only when the Feastdays of 1st and 2nd Finding of the head (kara) of the Precious Forerunner and Baptist John, of the Holy Forty Martyrs or the Annunciation of the Theotokos fall on a Lenten weekday are the regular Divine Liturgies of Saint Basil the Great or of Saint John Chrysostom celebrated.
As we had mentioned also in the chapter concerning attending church, we must participate very frequently in this obligatory Sacrament, furthermore we should Commune the Immaculate Sacraments-if we have a blessing from our Spiritual Father.
Let us again recall our Lord's own words: "Jesus therefore said to them. Amen, amen I say unto you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves, he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect him in the last day" (St. John 6:35-54).
Thus my beloved brethren, closing the category of the obligatory ones with this great Sacrament, let us now look at the voluntary ones, which are:
First the great ministry of the priesthood, with the first and greatest High Priest, and Founder of the Sacrament, our Savior Jesus Christ. In this, whoever wishes and does not have obstacles of sins, can become a priest.
A second voluntary one is marriage. Also a great Sacrament blessed by our Christ at the wedding of Cana of Galilee.
The third voluntary one, is the Sacrament of Unction. Whoever wishes can have it conducted at his home also. This also has great value, for Jesus gave this authority to His Disciples saying that they should heal every illness and expel the wicked and impure spirits from Christian believers.
The Divinely inspired author of the Catholic (Universal) Epistle (Letter), Saint James the Brother of God writes: "Is any among you sick? Let him call the presbyters (priests) of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (Catholic Epistle of Saint James 5:14-15).
The Holy Church of course always performs this Mystery (Sacrament) to sanctify her faithful in the Church, but also performs the two previous ones.
Constantly say the "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me" with your heart and the miracle will happen, only have faith-humility-patience-love and hope. (Source: Annunciation of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery, Reddick, Florida)
"Without Orthodox Faith it is impossible for us to be saved."(Saint Philotheos Zervakos)
Please note: It is important that all of our parishioners who are preparing to receive the Sacraments of the Church during the Holy and Great Lent, especially Holy and Great Week, and throughout the ecclesiastical year, truly understand the great significance of the Holy Mysteria (Divine Sacraments) in their lives, and of course, the salvation of their immortal soul.
For an Orthodox Christian to receive the Sacraments of the Church he/she must be in good standing spiritually with the Church i.e., "A parishioner in good standing practices all the religious and moral duties...applies 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; participates regularly in the holy Sacraments; respect all ecclesiastical authority and all governing bodies of the Church; be obedient in matters of faith, practice and ecclesiastical order…"
A person who lives an immoral life and has not attended any of the divine services of the Church for decades or many years, is not in good standing and therefore cannot receive the Sacraments without first participating in the Sacrament of Repentance and Confession.
A person who is not married in the Church or if married, divorced, and does not have an ecclesiastical divorce is not able to receive the Sacraments.
If you have any questions about your standing with the Church, please, contact Father as soon as possible
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.
GLORY BE TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God