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The Holy Mysteries - Sacraments
The Holy Mysteries
The Eastern churches use the term “mysteries” to describe the sacred rites by which the Church perpetuates the saving action of Christ on earth. The Western church uses the term “sacrament”. Each term has a history and is filled with meaning. In the Eastern churches, mystery generally refers to the realm of the holy and to God's plan of salvation. With the eyes of faith we are able to appreciate the real presence of God in creation.
The waters of Baptism bring us new life as God’s children. The waters clean and purify us from original sin and enable us to “move on” to a new life as followers of Jesus. Baptism admits us to God’s family, making us children of God, members of the People of God. It is our doorway into the Church. Once we have been baptized, we can take part in the other Holy Mysteries.
Chrismation comes right after Baptism to signify the unity between the mission of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In Chrismation, we are anointed with blessed oil called Chrism or Myron. This perfumed oil may be blessed only by the Eparch or Bishop. Anointing with this oil is a sign of dedication, of belonging to the church.
The word Eucharist means “thanksgiving”. The Eucharist is seen as the central mystery toward which all other mysteries are drawn. It is the climax of the process of Christian initiation by which we become Disciples of Christ. It is the Eucharist that forms the Church and unites us to one another in the love of Christ. Through the sacramental body of Christ we grow as members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
The mystery of crowning (marriage) is when a man and a woman are wedded to each other. In marriage it is the solemn and public life-long commitment of the bride and the groom that becomes the occasion for divine presence. St. Paul teaches that the love of a man and woman in marriage is the manifestation of the love of Christ for His people, the Church.
Reconciliation, (Rite of Penance) consists of the penitent confessing his sins to the priest, being attentive to the priest's admonition and the giving of penance to be performed, the expression of sorrow followed by the prayer of absolution.
Since the first days of the apostles, the church has celebrated God’s healing power in a holy mystery called Anointing of the Sick. This mystery may be administered only by priests and bishops – the true successors of the apostles and representatives of Jesus.