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The Sacraments

The Sacraments

The Sacrament of Baptism

The Ethiopian orthodox Tewahedo church serves the faithful through the seven sacraments. These sacraments are called mysteries because the invisible grace of the Holy Spirit is granted through them. The seven sacraments are:-

  1. Baptism
  2. Confirmation
  3. Holy Communion
  4. Ordination
  5. Matrimony
  6. Penance
  7. Unction of the Sick

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, taking the example of pillars as has been said in the proverbs of Solomon as a starting point, teaches that there are seven sacraments (Proverbs 9:1). Of the seven, the six sacraments can be performed by a bishop and a priest. Ordination is conferred by a bishop only.

Baptism

Definition

Baptism is the sacrament through which a person is born again and accepted into the membership of the church after being dipped into water three times in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost through which we are reborn and enter the kingdom of God. Of all the sacraments it is the first, because it is considered as the door through which the believer enters the church and the kingdom of grace according to what was said by the Lord: “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3: 5).Therefore, it must be received by believers before they can receive any other sacrament.

Baptism has a Biblical basis (Mt. 28:19-20). Through Baptism, sin is forgiven (Acts 2:8). Cleansing and blessing is attained through baptism. (1Pet. 3:21; Tit. 3:5-6).

In our church, we baptize children in the Old Testament children were considered as people of the convenient after they were circumcised. In the New Testament, children are baptized in their infancy and become members of the family of Christ. God has never isolated children from his grace. For example, Jeremiah was blessed while he was in the womb of his mother. (Jer. 1:5). John the Baptist was likewise filled with the Holy Spirit while in the womb of his mother (Lk. 1:15). Our Lord and savior during the period of his teaching has blessed children. This shown that the age of children does not prevent them from being brought to God (Mt. 19:13-15; Mk. 10:13-15; Lk. 18:15-17; Acts 16:33; 1Cor. 1:16). In the practice of our church, a boy is baptized on the fortieth day after birth and a girl on the eightieth day after birth. In the Old Testament, males entered the house of God forty days after birth. Females also entered the house of God eighty days after birth. (Lev. 12:15, Lk.2:21-24). Since children cannot confess their faith a godfather and a godmother are assigned to them respectively. Baptism is done by dipping and sprinkling. (Mt. 28:19-20). Those martyrs who shed their blood in martyrdom are considered as having been baptized by their blood (Mt. 10:32, 16:25).

Order of Baptism

It is performed in a baptismal lake (river) which is deep enough for immersion. If sufficient water is not available in a church courtyard, a pond or a wide basin is constructed which can immerse the whole body the available water is taken in there handfuls, or in a cup and is sprinkled over the whole body (Didsa. 34, Fetha Negest Article 3). The priest after completing the prayer makes the baptized person bow in the four directions by saying, I make you bow down to the Father, I make you bow down to the son, I make you bow down to the Holy Spirit. I baptize you in the name of the Father, I baptize you in the name of the son, I baptize you in the name of the Holy Spirit, so saying he baptizes him/her. (Mt. 28:19-20).

  • Before baptism, the hair is shaved and clothes are taken off.
  • Immediately after Baptism, he/she is blessed and receives the Holy Communion, which is the culmination of the sacraments.
  • If the one to be baptized is an adult, he is made to receive basic religious education (Catechism) and is baptized after having accepted and believed in the teaching.
  • Males can only be godfathers to males and females can only be godmothers to females (Fetha Negest 3:Dida. 34' Nic. 24).
  • If any unabaptized person is seriously ill and his life is endangered, he is baptized. (Fetha Negest Article3).
  • If the ones to be baptized are grown ups and can pray, they recite the creed.
  • If the ones to be baptized are children, their godfathers and godmothers promise to teach ad cultivate them spiritually.
  • Children born of Christian families are baptized after forty days if male and eighty days if female. However, there is no restriction of age if the person believes in salvation in Christ.
  • Baptism is in the name of the Trinity (Mt. 28:19).
  • Baptism is not repeated for one person (Rom6:3,4; Eph. 4:4-7).
  • Baptism is by water only (Fetha negest 3; Jn. 3:5).
  • After his/her baptism, a cord is put around his /her neck. This is the sign or identification of a Christian.
  • Baptism symbolizes the death and burial of Christ. The resemblance of death and burial is the partaking of death and resurrection of Christ (Didas. 34; Rom. 6:5,6).
  • Furthermore, Baptism is performed according to the book of Baptism and Fetha Negest.

  • Baptism in the Old Testament

    1.The Ark of Noah.

    “When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.” (1 Pet. 3: 20, 21)

    2. The circumcision.

    “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. Buried with Him in baptism.” (Col.2:11,12)

    3. Crossing the Red Sea.

    ”I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Cor 10:1,2)

    Baptism of John the Baptist

    Although it was from heaven yet it was “ the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. “(Luke 3:3) and had no power of rebirth. It was to prepare the Jews to accept Christ, and was, at the same time, a sing or preparation for Christian baptism.

    Baptism by the Disciples before the Death of Christ

    It was said that the disciples used to baptize during the days of our Lord on earth. (John 4:2) But this baptism was also to prepare the Jews to accept Christ. John Chrysostom says that it was exactly the same as the baptism of John the Baptist.

    Institution of the Sacrament

    Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself instituted this sacrament after His resurrection when He said: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”(Matt 28: 18, 19)

    The Visible Sign

    The signs are the dipping into water three times, and the words said by the minister; “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”


    The use of water is because:

    1. Christ was baptized into water (Matt. 3: 13-16)
    2. Christ said: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (John 3:5)
    3. It was thus used by the Apostles and the early church in the Apostolic age. “Then answered Per, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized?” (Acts 10:46,47) “And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:38)
    4. It has been used since the very beginning of the church.
    5. Water cleanses the dirt of the body, and baptism cleanses the dirt of the soul.


    The dipping into water is because:

    (1) Christ was thus baptized. “And Jesus, when He was baptized went up straightway out of the water.”(Matt.3:16)
    (2) And the early church in the apostolic age thus baptized too. “And they went down both into water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:38) No doubt, the eunuch had some water with him in his chariot, and Philip could have used some of it for sprinkling him had it been allowed to baptize with sprinkling.
    (3) The word “baptism” is a Greek word and comes from a word which means “to dye” or to dip into water.
    (4) Baptism resembles death and burial with Christ; and to bury a dead body is to put it down in the grave. “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom.6: 3,4). Therefore it is not right to baptize with the sprinkling of water as others do.

    The Invisible Grace



    1. Rebirth.

    “Jesus answered and said unto him, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time in his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily I say unto thee except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3-5) For this reason the apostle Paul calls baptism regeneration. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)

    2. Remission of sins.

    ”Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. “(Acts 2 : 38)

    3. Purification and sanctification.

    “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God). “ ( 1 Pet. 3: 21) “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify it and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Eph. 5:25,26)

    4. Salvation.

    “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” (Mark 16; 16) “ The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 3:21)

    5. Adoption.

    “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Gal. 3:26,27

    One Baptism

    Our church teaches that those who have been validly baptized must not be baptized again. This is what St. Paul affirmed: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph. 4:5)

    The reasons why baptism must not be repeated are: (1) Baptism is the rebirth, or regeneration. As man is born bodily only once, so we cannot be spiritually born more than once. (2) Baptism is the partaking of Christ’s death and resurrection (Rome 6:4; Col. 2: 12) and Christ died and arose only once. Even when Christians reject the faith and come back again to the church, they are not baptized again In this case it is sufficient that they perform the two sacraments of penance and Holy Communion.

    Baptism of Infants

    Some churches say that baptism should be given only to grown up persons. But our church believes that babies too should be baptized for the following reasons: 1. Babies are inheritors of Adam’s sin, and it is necessary for them to be purified of it through baptism. 2. In the Old Testament babies had to be circumcised in order to be accepted into God’s covenant. And since circumcision was a type of baptism, therefore babies should now be baptized in order to be accepted as members in the church. It should be borne in mind that circumcision which was a seal of faith (Rome 4:11) was applied to children who were incapable of faith. This sing marked them out as recipients of the covenant blessings of God. 3. God did not prevent babies from accepting some of the great graces, e.g. Jeremiah was sanctified before coming forth out of the womb (Jer. 1:5), John the Baptist was filled with Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:15). 4. In the Apostolic age whole families were baptized and there must have been some babies among those families, like the families of Cornelius (Acts 10: 48), Lydia (Acts 16,14,15) the deeper of the prison (Acts 16:33), Stephanas (1 Cor. 1: 16) etc. 5. This was the custom in the church since the early centuries, as is shown in history and the writing of the fathers. Origen said: “The Apostles handed over to the church the tradition of baptizing babies also because babies are baptized for the remission of sins to be washed of the inherited sin.” It was said: “Baptizing babies is and Apostolic tradition.” In the Apostolic Tradition we read: “ They shall baptize the little children first. If they can answer for them selves let them answer. But if they cannot, let their parents answer, for someone form their family.” 6. Christ’s church on earth is composed of all those who profess faith in Him and obedience to His laws, together with their children.

    Baptism of Blood


    Martyrs who shed their blood for the sake of Christ before being baptized are considered to have received this kind of baptism according to the statement of our Lord “whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. “ (Matt 10: 32 ) Again: “whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25)

    Who has the Right to Baptize


    This right was primarily given to the Apostles by the Lord Himself. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 28:19). Then it was given to bishops, and afterwards to the priests.

    Obligations of the Baptized


    Before receiving baptism. One must publicly declare: 1. His repentance; “Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 2:38 ) In his confession of repentance he must declare also that he has rejected Satan and all his works.
    2. His faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16: 16). In his confession of faith he must say the creed. But in the case of babies who are of course unable to declare repentance or faith he before baptism, their parents, god-fathers or god-mothers should give that declaration instead of them, and should promise to rear them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.



    Source: EOT church publication. Rev. Marcos Daoud, The Orthodox Church Sacraments, Tinsae Ze Gubae Printing press, Addis Ababa 1952.

The Sacrament of Confirmation (Myron)

Definition

The Sacrament of Myron, also known as the Holy Anointment, or the Sacrament of Confirmation, is a holy Sacrament, with which we receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. The word Myron is a Greek word which means ointment or fragrant perfume. It is anointed after Baptism. Confirmation like Baptism is performed once and cannot be repeated through the sacrament of confirmation, the believer is granted the gift of the Holy Spirit. The baptized person receives it immediately after Baptism, so as to become a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit aids him to grow in his spiritual life. Although it is received directly after Baptism, it is an independent Sacrament and the priests have to be very careful to grant it accurately to the baptized, anointing them with 36 crosses. In the Apostolic times, the baptized person was granted the Holy Spirit by the laying of the hands. (Acts 20:14-17). When the church expanded, however, the bishops who continued the works of the Apostles permitted the replacement of the laying of hands by the anointing of the Holy oil. When the Apostles baptized children and grownups, the baptized person was granted the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17; 19:5-6).

The Myron oil consists of about 30 kinds of spices and perfumes which have been added to pure olive oil and simmered four times. The filtered oil is then poured into a large container and after the Liturgy of the Sanctification of the Myron, the Patriarch places the old leaven in the Myron recently made, whilst saying certain prayers. The Ghaliloun oil comprises the remaining fibers of the filtered oil after it having been simmered four times. It is then sanctified by a special Mass, which follows the Myron Mass. The mixture of the Myron and the Ghaliloun oil, is composed of about 30 kinds of spices, some of which are: myrrh, aloes, frankincense, cinnamon, cassia, sweet-swelling cane, thistle, balsam and ambergris. The last substance added into the mixture is the fragrant musk.

Time of Administration

Since the believer, through this sacrament, is confirmed in the new life given him after baptism, it should therefore be administered directly after baptism. Some churches say that it should be delayed till the babies grow to the age of maturity. In reply it may be sufficient to state the following:

  1. The Holy Ghost descended upon our Lord directly after baptism. (Matt. 3:16)
  2. The Apostles used to celebrate this sacrament by the laying on of hands, directly after baptism. (Acts 8: 14-17; 19:5,6)
  3. Since babies are worthy of receiving the grace of baptism, there is no reason for preventing them from receiving the sacrament of confirmation.
  4. The Bible declares that some babies were filled with the Holy Gost even from their mothers’ womb, e.g. John the Baptist. (Luke 1: 15)

In the early days of the church, it used to celebrate this sacrament by the laying on of hands. “Then laid they (Peter and John) their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:17) “And when they (the Ephesians) heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them the Holy Ghost came on them.” (Acts 19: 5,6). Our fathers, the apostles granted this Sacrament by the laying of their hands after Baptism, as we read in the Book of Acts when St. Peter and St. John laid hands on the people of Samaria who were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and so received the Holy Spirit, (Acts 9:2-6).

The laying on of hands was afterwards replaced by the unction of the holy oil (mairoun). “But we have an unction from the Holy one, and we know all things. The anointing which we have received of Him abides in you and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” (1 John 2:20, 27)

“Now He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us. Is God: who hath also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (2 Cor. 1: 21,22) Certain parts of the body have to be anointed with that oil after saying certain prayers. Anointing the external organs by the Myron oil denotes anointing the power of the internal soul and its spiritual senses by the power of God to fight the hosts of evil and its power. This is because the Myron is the most powerful weapon against the devil and the best protection against sin and its seduction. It is related that the holy oil was first made, by the Apostles, of the spices and ointments that were prepared for the body of the Lord at the time of burial and after burial (Luke 23:56; 24:1). St. Mark brought part of it to Egypt, and since that time fresh oil used to be made and added to the rest of it. It is now made of olive oil and certain spices, and consecrated by the Patriarch and bishops through long prayers.

The Invisible Grace

Through this sacrament the believer receives the gift of the Holy Ghost who confirms him in the new life given to him in baptism, gives him the power of growing in that new life, enlightens and teaches him all things (1 John 2, 20,21) and keeps him firm in the way of truth. According to the Apostolic Canons, the priest baptizes the child in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and anoints them with the Holy Myron. This is to take place only after renouncing Satan and professing Christ has been done. The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost-wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, godliness, and the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2) are given to the believers through this sacrament.

Who has the Right to Anoint

This right was primarily confined to the Apostles, From them it was conveyed to the bishops, their successors, But owing to the difficulties of travel and the impossibility of the bishops being able to confirm all over large dioceses, the custom arose of the bishops blessing the oil, and then allowing the priests to anoint with the oil, and so convey the blessing of the bishops.

Anointing of Kings

Christian Kings in Christian countries are anointed with holy oil in order that they may receive special blessings of the Holy Ghost to help them with the wisdom and guidance of God in performing their duties. This was also the custom in the Old Testament when Kings of Israel had to be anointed at the hands of the prophets.

When anointing David as King of Israel he was said to have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost. “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” (1 Sam. 16: 13) It is the head of the church in that country who has the right to anoint its kings.

The Anointments

The priest places his right thumb on top of the opening of the Myron bottle, and turns it downwards to wet his finger with the Myron. He then anoints the baptized as follows:

The first four anointments (eight crosses) are on the senses:

Firstly, the top of the head, the nostrils, the mouth, and the right ear. Then, the right eye, the left eye, an finally the left ear Whilst anointing, the priest says, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The anointment of grace of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

The Nostrils
-contain the sense of smell, and it is an important sense, for if a person is not careful and alert, it is possible for impure thoughts to enter ones heart through this sense. Hence, the priest anoints it to protect it against all sin and lust.
The Mouth with the tongue

-is the most dangerous organ in a person... If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this ones religion is useless (James 1:26). If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). The tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison, it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell (James 3:8,6), if it is not controlled. The Psalmist prays, Set a guard O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing (Psalm 141:3,4)

The Ears

-provide us with the important sense of hearing, which should also be controlled, and the anointing of the Myron is a strong weapon in control what we hear. We protect our ears from hearing such things as gossip, and other conversations which may poison our hearts with revenge and hatred. We also protect our ears from hearing certain songs which may poison our hearts with lustful thoughts.

The Eyes

-are the most important sense, through which enters more than 80% of information which may affect our hearts. If the information is holy, it sanctifies the heart, and vice versa. For this reason, we should control what we see so that we may keep ourselves pure. The tenth commandment says, Do not covet. The Psalmist prays, Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things (Psalm 119:37), and, Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law (Psalm 119:17).

The second group of four anointments are as follows:

The priest wets his right thumb with the Myron another time and anoints,

  • The heart (chest)
  • The navel
  • The back
  • The lower back
Whilst anointing the priest prays : An anointment as a token for the kingdom of heaven," as this holy anointment makes the Holy Spirit works in us and prepares us for the inheritance of the Kingdom of heaven.

The third group of anointments are on the six joints of the arm:

The priest wets his thumb with the holy Myron, and anoints,

  • The right shoulder joint
  • The right underarm
  • The right elbow joint
  • The inner elbow joint
  • The right wrist joint
  • The back of the right wrist
Whilst anointing, the priest prays, An anointment for the community of eternal life, Amen.

The fourth group of anointments are on the other six joints:
  • The left shoulder joint
  • The left underarm
  • The left elbow joint
  • The left elbow joint
  • The left wrist joint
  • The back of the left wrist
  • Whilst anointing, the priest prays, A holy anointment of our Lord Jesus Christ, an imperishable seal, Amen. Anointing the hands is important, as they are instruments of work and contain the sense of touch. We should keep our hands pure from all things that may defile; from touching things that are impure, from partaking in ungodly deeds, from taking part in murder, stealing, and so on.

    The fifth group of anointments are on the six joints of the leg:

    The priest wets his thumb with the Myron and anoints,

    • The right hip joint
    • The right ureter (inside of the hip joint)
    • The right knee joint
    • The inner knee joint
    • The right ankle joint
    • Above the right ankle joint
    • The priest anoints them saying, Perfection of the grace of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

      These are sensitive parts of the body, for near the inner hips lies the reproductive organs, and the church anoints this area so that the child may lead of life of purity. The sexual organs are called the holy of Holies of the body, and so keeping them pure is required. Through the anointing of the Myron, these organs are being protected from sexual immorality, which greatly angers God. God destroyed the old world because of their profanity, through wiping them out by the flood. Likewise, He burnt the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and judged them to become an example of the fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries,Those who died in the plague were twenty four thousand (Numbers 25:9). For this reason, St. Paul our teacher advises every youth saying, Keep yourself pure (1 Timothy 5:22), for without holiness no one can see the Lord.

      The sixth group of anointments are on the other six joints:

      The priest wets his thumb with the Myron and anoints,

      • The left hip joint
      • The left ureter (inside of the hip joint)
      • The left knee joint
      • The inner knee joint
      • The left ankle joint
      • Above the left ankle joint

      The priest anoints them saying, I anoint you (...name) by a holy anointment. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit Amen.

      Anointing the feet is to protect them from walking in the way of sin, and from going to corrupt places. Avoiding the way of sin will enable us to live a virtuous life, and finally gain eternal life. After finishing the anointments, the priest places his hand on the child's head, saying, "May you be blessed by the blessings of the heavenly, and the blessings of the angels. May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you in His name.



      Source: EOT church publication. Rev. Marcos Daoud, The Orthodox Church Sacraments, Tinsae Ze Gubae Printing press, Addis Ababa 1952.

The Sacrament of Penance

"IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS , HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS AND TO CLEANS US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS" 1 John 1:9

Definition

Although believers are reborn through the sacrament of baptism, and receive the Holy Ghost trough the sacrament of confirmation, yet this does not mean that they even the best saints are liable to sin. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, etc. in the Old Testament, Peter, John, etc in the New Testament-all these committed sin, even when they were on the pinnacle of holiness. For this reason this sacrament of penance was instituted in order that through it the sinner can return to God after confessing his sins to the priest. According to the power given by Christ to His ministers to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in Him, the penitent receives, through the meditation of the priest, forgiveness of sins when he comes to him repenting and confessing them. Because it is very necessary that everyone should examine himself before accepting the Holy Communion, this sacrament of penance is therefore administered generally before accepting the Holy Communion. “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinkth unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11: 28, 29)

The Sacrament of Repentance and Confession is a holy sacrament, by which the sinner returns to God, confessing his sins before the priest to be absolved by the priest through the authority granted to him by God. By this absolution the confessing person is granted the forgiveness of those sins which he confessed. Confession means admitting and declaring a certain matter. The Sacrament of Confession means verbal confession before the priest of sins and mistakes committed by a person, and confessing and humbly repenting, in order to be granted the absolution and forgiveness.

The Institution of the Sacrament

It was instituted by the threefold promise of the Lord

  1. When Christ said to Peter after declaring that He was the Son of the living God: “Whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19)
  2. When He promised all disciples saying: “Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt 18:18)
  3. When, after resurrection, He showed them their great commission to the world. “As my Father hath send me, even so send I you. And when He said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; Who so ever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose so ever sins ye retain, they are retained (John 20: 21-23)

Our Lord Jesus Christ founded the Sacrament of Repentance and Confession when He said to His disciples, the pure apostles: Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18). Also, after the Resurrection the Lord said : As the Father sent me, I also send you. And when He said this He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them, if you retain the sins of any they are retained (John 20:21-23). By this He gave them the authority of binding sins or loosing them, through the authority given to them by the Holy Spirit, and according to the contriteness of the confessing person.

Conditions of Repentance


True repentance has four conditions:

  • Contrite heart and remorse for previous sins.
  • Steadfast intention to improve.
  • Strong faith in Christ and hope in His love to forgive.
  • Verbal confession of sins before the priest.

The Outward Sign


There are two audible sings in this sacrament:

The confession of the penitent to the priest, True confession stands in:

  1. Repentance and sorrow for the sins committed. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19)
  2. Resolution not to return to those sins. When the prodigal son returned to his father he was at once pardoned and accepted because the father was sure that he would not return to that far country.
  3. Faith in the mercy and forgiveness of God. Every one that came to the Lord while on earth asking for mercy used to hear this cheerful message “thy sins be forgiven thee” because of his faith in Him, or at least, the faith of those who brought him to the Lord.
  4. Confessing sins to the priest, especially those which have the mastery over the sinner. The reason for confessing sins to the priest are:
    • In order to get through him absolution from all his sins.
    • In order that the penitent can get his spiritual advice as to the way to conquer his temptations and lead the holy life.

The words of absolution spoken by the priest over the penitent. The sacrament of penance is called a spiritual medicine. And the priest is considered a spiritual physician to treat all the diseases of penitents. Therefore he should treat every case as carefully as possible. It should be well known that the “seal of confession” is the obligation of secrecy imposed upon the priest with regard to everything made known to him in confession. The obligation is absolute, and admits no exception. It binds by natural, divine, and ecclesiastical law, and is not abrogated even by the penitent’s death. The reason for this stringency is quite clear.

The Invisible Grace


The invisible graces which are granted through this sacrament are. 1. Remission of sins. 2. Reconciliation with God

The Kind of sin that can be forgiven


  • The Bible teaches us that every sin can be forgiven however grave it may be, provided that the sinner should return to God in repentance. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.” (Is 1: 18)
  • It teaches also that God is ready to pardon and accept everyone. “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6: 37) “God will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4) David who committed two grave sins, was pardoned. Peter, who denied the Lord three times, and in a very shameful way, was pardoned. The woman who was taken in adultery was pardoned (John 8:11) Christ asked for pardon even to those who committed the greatest crime by crucifying Him.
  • In Matt. 12:31 we find that “the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men” This means that those who reject and oppose the work of the Holy Ghost, and refuse to accept God’s salvation will not be pardoned.

Ecclesiastical Discipline


In some cases the priest finds it necessary to inflict some kind of discipline on the sinner when he commits a great sin, e.g. he can rebuke him, ask him to fast for some days, pass a longer time in daily prayer, tell him to give some money to the poor, prevent him from receiving the Holy Communion for some time, or impose some other kind of discipline.

  1. This right was given to the ministers by Christ Himself. He gave them the right not only to loose, but also to bind (Matt. 16:19); not only to remit the sins, but also to retain them (John 20:23)
  2. The Apostles themselves used it. “Deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be save in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 5:5) See also 2 Cor. 2: 6,7 and 1 tim 5:20
  3. The reasons for this discipline are:
  4. (a) In order that the sinner can recognize how grave his sin is. (b) In order that it may serve as a cure to his soul. When the sinner of Corinthe was punished, he repented, and St, Paul wrote to the church to accept him. “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow”. (2Cor. 2: 6,7)
    In order that others may fear, and do not commit the same sins or the like. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” (1. Tim. 5:20)
  5. The minister should be very careful in using this right. He should recognize that, as a physician, he must be very careful in applying the various kinds of medicine. A slight disease is not in need of the same drug which is needed in serious cases.

  6. “Treat-as a kind physician- the sick person. Use some medicines for his salvation. Do not use a severe medicine, but a very mild one. Clean his wounds sand make him firm through the words of consolation. If the wound is deep use the medicines which build up the flesh. If it is filled with puss clean it with a disinfectant medicine, i.e. with rebuking words and afterwards with comforting words. If the wound becomes wider, use a severe unguentum, i.e. terrify him with the day of judgement. If it becomes wider, burn it, and order him to fast for some days. It you find that there is no use of any kind of treatment, consult very experienced physicians, and cautiously cut the corrupted member in order not to cause all church members to be corrupted. But do not hasten to cut any member. “If you pass any sentence unjustly upon anyone you should know that this sentence returns upon your head. “Do not pass one sentence upon all kinds of sins. But examine very sin in order to give the suitable judgement. There are some persons who just deserve you prayer for them, others you should ask to fast, others you should drive out of the church for a certain period appropriate to their sins.”(Didaskalta Ch.8)
  7. But the Church of Rome thinks that these punishments are meant to pacify the justice of God. This is utterly wrong because nothing can pacify His justice except the blood of Christ which was shed for our redemption (Rome 3:25; Col, 1:20; 1 Pet 2:24 etc. )

Church Penance for the Repentant to Examine the Truthfulness of their Repentance, If obediently adhered to

  • Abstinence
  • Prostrations for repentance and humility
  • Almsgiving to the needy
  • Prevention from Communion for a certain time
  • Returning stolen money
  • Apology to whom we insulted
  • Extra prayers other than the usual, to ask God's mercy.
These Church penances are spiritual remedies to help heal the sinner's wounds, as it implants reverence and remorse in a repentant, and initiates the hatred of sin so that we may remain watchful and not fall into sin again.

Steps necessary for an Acceptable Confession


True repentance because of our love for God, and not for fear of punishment, we should aim for spiritual healing in order to receive God's grace of forgiveness, and gain eternal life.

  • To be honest with ourselves, without being biased, so as to avoid the Lord's warning: He who loves his life will lose it (John 12:25).
  • To have honest intention and steadfast will, and so abandon sin and its causes.
  • To examine our conscience and self carefully, to be aware of the sins committed by deed or word or thought or senses, to repent and humble ourselves so that we may not fall into sin again.
  • To be truthful in confession, knowing that lying to the confession-father is lying to the Holy Spirit. As in the example of Ananias lying to St Peter : Why has Satan filled your heart to be lying to the Holy Spirit? (Act 5:3).
  • Not to hide any secrets and hidden thoughts, but to reveal all frankly before the priest to enable him to offer the best remedy in order to build and revive the spiritual life of the confessing person. Jeremiah the prophet speaks to the human soul saying: Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord (Lamentations 2:19). When water is poured forth, it leaves no trace or smell, but if oil is poured it leaves behind a trace, and if vinegar is poured, it leaves behind a smell. So just like water which leaves behind no residue, we also should pour forth all our confessions before the priest in order to be cleansed.
  • Not to find excuses for yourself, and blame others, for confession is about blaming yourself for the sins committed, and not condemning others. King Solomon advises us: Do not say before the messenger (Priest) of God that it was an error(Ecclesiastes 5:6).
  • A person must be fair with oneself, not too sympathetic nor too harsh, doubtful or anxious, but rather, should confess with a straightforward, mature conscience.
  • The confessor must adhere to the advice given them by their confession father, and be diligent in following his advice as a remedy necessary for spiritual life.
  • To practice all the spiritual exercises given by one's confession-father, and with love and patience, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). As St Basil the Great says, As we bear the scalpel of the physician to remedy the body and the medicine's bitterness, we also should bear the suffering of rebuke, chastisement and various practices so that the soul may be remedied from its sins and weaknesses.
  • To confess bravely without embarrassment, all the sins and its details, and if the priest asks concerning certain points, one must not complain or hide, but answer honestly, knowing that it is for our own benefit that the priest will provide us with useful advice.
  • A confessing person must struggle with God in prayer as the Lord says: Come now, and let us reason together, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool(Isaiah 1:18).
  • After repentance, absolution and forgiveness, we must thank God who opened the door of repentance and saved us from the dangerous road of death, as Isaiah said: For wickedness burns as the fire, it shall devour the briers and thorns and kindle in the thickets of the forest; they shall mount up like rising smoke (Isaiah 9:18), and our teacher St. Peter said:The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and the reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanliness (2 Peter 2:9,10). When the repentant knows that through repentance they are rescued from all this, they will deepen in their love toward God and seek to always abide in God, in order to receive power in their struggle against sin. God will make us victorious over Satan and all his enticements, and bring our bodies and all its weaknesses and lusts into subjection. Our teacher St. Paul advises us saying: And having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13). The repentant must walk on the pure path of repentance, and not be willingly returning to sin again.
  • The confessing person must not venture from one confession father to another, as this may be cause delay in one's spiritual growth. Unless for very strong reasons, one should not change their confession father.
  • The person who confesses must have strong love and confidence in the confession-father to trust his guidance, obey and benefit from him, like a patient trusting their doctor.
We advise every husband and wife to have the same confession-father so that the spiritual providence for their marital life become one, and the priest will know their natures and guide them adequately for the welfare of the family. And if a problem exists between them, the priest gives the correct solution without interference from a third party who might have a different opinion, and hence cause harm to the family. Hence, a mutual confession-father is a necessity for the family welfare.

Necessary Conditions for a Confession Father


  • To be a legally ordained priest
  • To have permission from his Bishop to accept congregational confessions, for he will be accountable for such a responsibility.
  • To be wise and experienced in psychology, and knowledgeable about souls and their depths.
  • To be spiritual and close to God, so that he can pray for his children and plead with God to solve their problems.
  • To have a strong personality, not double-faced, and not afraid to speak the truth and rebuke the sinner, regardless of who they may be.
  • He must be righteous with an ability to listen to problems without being affected. He must also be patient with the confessing person and treat them as his son/daughter. He must be able to give them comfort so that they may be able to confess their sins.
  • He must be strong in spirit, able to bear the weakness of the weak, accept their confession, listening to their sins without despising or judging them, they must be attentive and able give the person enough chance to say everything they need to say. Then he must give the appropriate advice and instructions necessary for helping the person overcome the sins in future.
  • He must be wise and spiritually experienced in order to guide his children, so as not to give them wrong instructions that may harm their spiritual life.
  • He must be biblically knowledgeable as well as being informed concerning areas such as psychology and education, so that he may be able to understand different phases of growth and special psychological reactions. Hence, he must give the correct medicine for every illness, without hurting feelings, but rather, to encourage a person to confess.
  • He must be old enough to accept confessions, reverent and sober so that every one respects and listens to him.
  • He must be pure in intention, thoughts, heart and body so he can accept the confessions of women and guide them without causing disruption to himself.
  • He must be honest with people's secrets, not to reveal them to anybody whatever the causes are, knowing that Church rules forbid this and punishes the priest who reveals secrets and the confessions of people and so cause them embarrassment (Basilian Laws, 34).
  • He must be well learned about church laws in order to apply them wisely to those confessing to him.
  • He must imitate St. Paul in his love for his children: My little children for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you (Galatians 4:19), readily laboring for them until they become true Christians in their virtues and manners.
  • He must be convinced that Confession is a source of comfort for a person who confesses, and growth for spiritual life. If a person does not feel comfortable confessing to him and seeks his permission to change confession fathers, he must not forbid them, for by so doing, he may cause the person to rebel and cease from confessing again. It is important, however, that the priest be aware of the reason for the person wanting to change confession fathers, so that he may help them in choosing another who will be a source of help and comfort. If the priest insists on not allowing them to change confession fathers, the person may go directly and seek permission from the bishop, without involving the priest. It is also important to note that the priest is an adviser in personal matters, such as marriage or career decisions, and so should never enforce his opinion on others.
  • He must never attempt to intimidate any person confessing to him, such as those without a confession father. A priest should be considerate of the feelings of other priests he serves with, such as in accepting the confessions of a person who has recently been absolved from confessing to his fellow brother the priest.
In the Sacrament of Confession, the priest is a father, judge and teacher.

FIRST : A FATHER

Who yearns for the repentance of every one of his children, as their repentance and salvation will be a cause for his salvation, and so at the last day, he will say to the Lord: Here am I and the children whom God has given me (Isaiah 8:18), and together with St. Paul he will proclaim: For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord (Thessalonians 3:8). He resembles the father of the prodigal son, who awaited his son's return every single day, and, When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (Luke 15:20), and accepted his repentance and forgave him all his sins, rejoicing for his return, and saying to the elder son: It was right that we should make mercy and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found (Luke 15:32).

SECOND : A JUDGE

Who judges the case of his children according to the authority given to him: Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18). The priest must be accountable to this divine responsibility, neither favoring nor neglecting or oppressing or using this authority unduly, for personal purposes. He must be strict with sin regardless of who the sinner may be, just like a physician who loves the patient but hates the disease, and so tries to abolish it by the best possible medicine.

THIRD : A TEACHER

Who teaches according to the Holy Bible, and makes disciples of Christ of all those coming to him. He teaches them the way to God and Christian perfection, through his knowledge, experience and trials. The priest who wants to teach and make disciples of Christ, must himself be a disciple and be obedient towards his confession-father (who may be older, wiser and more experienced). Hence, he resembles our teacher St. Paul who says: I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me (Roman 15:18). He experiences, learns then teaches.

The priest must teach his children that absolution is granted after practicing the Sacrament of Confession directly. Group absolutions which are granted during the Holy Mass, (when each person remembers their sins, confesses before God and bows to receive the priest's absolution), is sufficient to receive Communion. It is not necessary, therefore, for the priest to read the absolution in the Church for each individual who has not confessed. Following the transubstantiation of the holy Body and Blood, the reading of the absolution is a grave mistake, for the absolution itself (the Holy Sacrament) is present on the altar. It is not right that Jesus Christ, the great High Priest is present on the altar, and the priest, ignoring Him, gives the absolution.

The priest must care to give his children adequate spiritual practices for their lives, so that they may be able to abandon certain sins and habits and replace them with virtues. He must follow these practices with them by praying for them and asking about them in every confession. It is also useful if a spiritual note-book is available, so that the priest can see it and provide them with advice and practical applications to help them in their spiritual life.

Anointing of Kings

Christian Kings in Christian countries are anointed with holy oil in order that they may receive special blessings of the Holy Ghost to help them with the wisdom and guidance of God in performing their duties. This was also the custom in the Old Testament when Kings of Israel had to be anointed at the hands of the prophets.

When anointing David as King of Israel he was said to have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost. “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” (1 Sam. 16: 13) It is the head of the church in that country who has the right to anoint its kings.

The Rite of a Priest's Confession to Another Priest

For every priest there must be a confession-father who is older in age and priesthood, and more experienced so he confesses to him and becomes his disciple. He must be very regular in confession so that he does not neglect and lose his eternal life, as St. Paul says, Lest when I have preached to others, I myself should became disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27), and every priest should take care to heed the advice of our teacher St. Paul: Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in then, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:16). During confession the priest must sit down honestly before his confession-father, like a patient before the physician, and confess seriously and frankly, asking for absolution, forgiveness and salvation. After confession the confessing priest removes his priestly had and kneels before his confession-father bowing his head to accept the absolution. During the absolution the priest does not place the Cross on the priest's head but on his shoulder, or otherwise, he lifts the Cross near the priest's head without touching it, and so prays the prayers and absolutions specified for confession. By the end of Absolutions, the confessing priest bows to his spiritual-father, kissing the Cross and his hand, thanking God for the grace of absolution and the forgiveness granted by confession and absolution



Source: EOT church publication. Rev. Marcos Daoud, The Orthodox Church Sacraments, Tinsae Ze Gubae Printing press, Addis Ababa 1952.

The Sacrament of The Holy Communion (Eucharist)

Definition & Names

The Sacrament of Communion is a Holy Sacrament by which the believer eats the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, presented by the Bread and Wine. This Sacrament has the greatest importance among the Seven Church Sacraments. It is sometimes called the Mystery of Mysteries or the Crown of Sacraments; for all the Sacraments are crowned by the Eucharist :

  • The person baptized must receive Communion directly after Baptism.
  • The repentant person must receive Communion after having confessed.
  • The person who marries must receive Communion after the wedding, (which must take place between the Matins and Holy Mass), according to the original Rite of Matrimony. Also, whoever is ordained with any priestly rank must receive Communion following the Holy Mass of his ordination.

This is the crowing service of the Christian Church, the culmination of Christian worship, the summit of Christian experience where devout believers hold intimate communion with their living Lord. The church through the ages has regarded this sacrament as the supreme act of communal worship. Through this sacrament we eat the blessed flesh of our Lord and drink His precious blood under the form of bread and wine. It is sometimes called: - 1. The Holy Communion. 2. The Lord’s Table 3. The flesh and blood of Christ 4. The Eucharist

Types of Offerings in the Old Testament

  1. The offerings which Melchisedec offered. For the first and last time in Old Testament it was said that there were offerings of bread and wine. “And Melchisedec king of Salem brought froth bread and wine: and he was the Priest of the most high God.” (Gen. 14:18) For this reason it was said of our Lord “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5:6,10; 7:17)
  2. The Passover which the children of Israel offered on the night of their going out of Egypt, and which they used to offer ever year. “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. “ (1 Cor. 5:7) “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the World.” (John 1:29)
  3. The “Manna” which Israel ate in the wilderness for forth years “Verily, Verily I say unto you. Moses gave you not that bread (manna) from heaven, but my father grivet you the true bread from heaven, “(John 6:32) “This is the bread which came down from heaven now as your fathers did eat manna are dead: he that eaten of this bread shall live forever” (John 6:58)

Institution of the Sacrament

The Lord Jesus instituted the holy Eucharist on Covenant Thursday, in the Upper Room of Zion, shortly before His arrest and trial. After He celebrated the Rite of Passover of the Jews, He rose and washed the feet of His disciples, as a sign of repentance and preparation, then sat down and instituted the Passover of the New Covenant, which is the Sacrament of Holy Communion. He took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat, this is My Body", then He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to His disciples saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is My Blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:26-28), and our teacher St Paul repeats the same words in 1 Corinthians (11:23-25).

Duties of The Priest towards The Sacrament of Holy Communion

The priest who serves the Mass and sanctifies the sacrifice is completely responsible for it before God, just like the Cherubim that God appointed at the East of the garden of Eden, holding a sword of fire to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). The sword in the priest's hand is the authority of priesthood given to him by God, to give the Communion to the worthy repentant and forbid it from those who are unworthy. On his day of ordination, the Bishop advises the new priest saying :

You must be watchful when you distribute the living Lord.s mysteries, more than all the ecclesiastical commandments and better than all other Apostolic orders. Do this seriously, actively and diligently. Be sure that the Seraphim and Cherubim are standing in awe and reverence. Be well knowledgeable of the sublime value of the sacrifice between your hands. He is Christ Emmanuel who sacrificed Himself for you. Know, without doubt, that you divide the Human Members, and carry in your hands the one whom Simeon the priest carried in reverence and awe (Luke 2:28).

This Chalice is His Blood shed for our sins, by which He saved from Hades all the imprisoned souls. What a sublime hidden Mystery! This is the Holy Body and precious Blood given for the salvation of humankind. This is the Lamb of God who lifted the sins of the world and led them to the light of truth. My son, take care of yourself and guard this valuable jewel as the Cherubim guarded the tree of life. Be alert about these Mysteries and treat them with caution to rid yourself from crisis. Do not give them except to the righteous, good and pure. Forbid whoever is an evil doer, so he does not bring upon himself condemnation, and you become the reason of guilt, sharing in the sin he committed by receiving Holy Communion in an unworthy manner. Hence you also will be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord and will be punished. The Apostle says : Do not share in other people's sins (1 Timothy 5:22). Be cautious and not neglectful, for the whole world is worth nothing.

The Measuring Reed

What is the meaning of worthiness of Communion from the Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, and when is a person worthy of this great grace and receive it without falling into condemnation?

True Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: as the person who approaches the Holy Communion must be a Christian Orthodox believer, baptized in the Orthodox Church, and strongly believes in the transubstantiation of the Bread to the Body of Christ, and the mixture into the Precious Blood of Christ, and that the Communion is the actual Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus.

Repentance: the person coming to Communion must practice repentance and confession regularly with their confession-father. The priest who is the Minister of the Sacrifice, can ask the person if he is not acquainted well with them, if they practice confession? If the person does, then the priest will give them the Communion, if they do not, the priest can forbid them until such time that they do confess. This is for the personal benefit of the person and the priest too, who keeps the commandment of Priesthood carefully, for as St. Paul says: Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup (1 Corinthians 11:24). Self-examination is all about being aware of ones sins and mistakes, and confessing them honestly, as St. John Chrysostom says: No one approaches idly or negligently, but let us approach with zeal and fervor and stay alert (ready as the judgment is prepare for those who share in an unworthy manner

.

True faith and pure repentance are the beginnings of life with Christ, as St. Paul says: The elementary principles of Christ, the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God (Hebrews 6:1).

Reconciliation with others: anyone who approaches the Communion must be first reconciled with others, for the Lord's advice is clear: Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23,24). We read in the Canons of St. Basil, that, If some laymen are hostile and the clergy know about this hostility, they should not receive the Mysteries and offerings until they are reconciled (Law 97).

He must not deal with Communion as if ordinary food, or partake of it for blessing only, but he must know the greatness of the Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, for Communion is like a live coal which the Seraphim presented to Isaiah the prophet after he confessed his sins: Then I said, Woe to me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips ... then one of the Seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it and said, Behold this has touched your lips, your iniquity is taken away and your sin is purged (Isaiah 6:5-7).

The Seraphim denotes the priest who is the Minister of the Sacrifice, and the tongs denotes the fingers of the priest by which he takes the jewel, which is the Holy Body (represented by the live coal) from the paten on the altar and places it into the mouth of those receiving Communion.

Worthiness is feeling unworthy and sinful, and knowing that the holies are for the holy person, and that no person has reached this holiness but struggles to attain it. Even if the person is contrite, repentant and confesses, they must believe in what our teacher St. Paul said: For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this (1 Corinthians 4:4).

The priest says: Make us all worthy to partake of Your holies, and he also prays in the Prayer of the Veil: We pray and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of Mankind, that this Mystery which You have appointed unto us for salvation may not be unto condemnation unto us or unto any of Your people, but for the washing away of our sins and the forgiveness of our negligence. The deacon says: Pray for the worthy Communion of the immaculate heavenly and holy Mysteries, so the partakers may take blessing and grace and the Mysteries affect their lives spiritually. There is an old script, which is still used in some countries. Its words are powerful and effective :
Amen. Amen. Amen. I believe. I believe. I believe, and confess that this is true indeed, Amen. Partaking of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God who came into the world and said, I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me, and I in him. For My Flesh is food indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. He who eats Me lives by Me and I will raise him up at the last day.

Necessary Physical Purity For Communion

spiritual conditions necessary for receiving Holy Communion like having true faith, pure repentance, reconciliation with others, not approaching the Communion without preparedness, and the importance of feeling contrite and unworthy at the time of Communion. Holy Communion should be approached with the same eagerness as a patient seeking medicine to be cured of all illnesses. Hence, Holy Communion gives us the healing and immunity against all evil viruses of sin.

There are also some necessary physical preparation before receiving the Holy Communion, such as:

  • Control over all physical senses so that no obscure sins may enter the heart.
  • Cleanness of body and clothing; respectable clothes should be worn, as you are going to Church to meet the King of kings and Lord of lords.
  • The faithful must be fasting and eat light food on the eve of Communion.
  • Sexual relations between married couples should not take place either on the eve of Communion, as well as on the day of receiving the sacrament.
  • If a person is in a state of impurity, accompanied by a dream or otherwise, he must not approach Holy Communion as this is considered breaking the fast. St Severus Bin Moqufaa said, Sexual impurity is fast breaking, and who breaks the fast cannot be forbidden from praying, or entry of the Church or attendance of the Mass (after a complete physical cleaning of course), but only forbidden from partaking of the Mysteries.

Period of abstaining from food must be nine hours for adults, according to the number of hours of suffering of the Lord Christ during His Crucifixion, (from the Third Hour (9 am) until His sentence at the Twelfth Hour (6 pm)). For children, the period of abstinence is six hours, and the duration of the Mass (three hours), for weaning infants (three hours is also the usual time between feeds). If the child's health is not the best, the priest can lessen the period of abstinence. A common mistake amongst some churches which distribute the general Korban (holy bread) early, is that some mothers feed their children from the Korban before going to receive Holy Communion. It is important therefore, for Churches to distribute the Korban after the Mass has finished only. In the past, some Churches would arrange for an Agapi meal after the Mass, where the poor, together with guests and strangers, would sit together and share a meal in love. When churches no more had the Agapi meal, the Korban was distributed in its stead.

Before Communion, it is important not to brush your teeth or gargle water, in case water may accidentally be swallowed. St. Severus Bin Moqafaa says, Many gargle their mouth by water then partake in the Communion and this is wrong. The mystery of God's words to His servant Moses about the Passover lamb, who was an example of the Body of Christ, was to be eaten with bitterness, meaning bitterness of the mouth.

Women should not partake of the Holy Communion when they are menstruating.

After a woman gives birth, she is not to partake of the Holy Communion until after forty days, if she delivered a boy, and eighty days if she delivered a girl. Hence, the first time she receives Holy Communion, after child birth, is on the day of her child's baptism after the priest prays for her the woman's absolution.

It is not preferable for a person to walk barefoot, or for a man to shave, directly after Communion. This is to avoid any wound occurring which may bleed. If, however, bleeding does occur unintentionally, the blood must be wiped with a piece of cloth or cotton, then burned in fire.

If anyone comes to church late, that is, after the Bible reading, they have no right in partaking of the Holy Communion. The Bible reading and the Prayer of the Mass are performed before Holy Communion in order to sanctify the soul and body, and provide spiritual and mental preparation for partaking of the Holy Communion.

After receiving the Holy Communion, it is important for each person to read the Prayer After Holy Communion, and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the wonderful grace received.

It is advisable that the remainder of the day be spent relaxing, rather than mingling with others. Reading spiritual books and spending the day in peace is a great way to feel the existence of God inside you, after having received the Holy Communion.

May God help us to be ready and worthy always to partake in the Divine Mysteries, so that we may abide in Christ, and He may abide in us, so that we may be granted the gift of Eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.



Source: http://www.copticchurch.net

The Sacrament of Unction of the Sick

Definition & Names

The Sacrament of the Unction of the Sick is one of the holy Seven Sacraments of the church, through which the sick who are faithful, are healed from psychological and physical diseases. The priest anoints the person with the holy oil from which they obtain the grace of remedy from God. It is called the "Sacrament of Lamps", for the early Christians used to place oil in a lamp, from which hung seven other lamps. Each lamp was lit at the beginning of every prayer. This rite still exists, however, the seven lamps were replaced by seven wicks, made from cotton wool, which sit in a plate of oil. The number seven signifies the seven spirits of God, which are mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 3:1). The Spirit of God dwells and sanctifies the oil in order to heal those anointed by it. It is advisable that the wicks be placed in the sign of the cross, in the plate of oil. Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted this Sacrament when He said to His disciples: Heal the sick, cleanse the leper (Matthew 10:8), and, Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, heal the sick who are there, and say to them, The Kingdom of God has come near to you (Luke 10: 8-9). For the Lord Jesus came that we may have life, and that we have it more abundantly (John 10:10), so He healed the sick, raised the invalid, opened the eyes of the blind, purified the lepers and the lame, after having saved them and forgiven them their main cause of sickness, which is sin.Jesus went about doing good and healing all those who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 1:38), as Malachi prophesied about Him saying, But to you who fear My Name, the Son of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2). Our fathers the Apostles practiced it according to the orders of their Master, as the Bible says, So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them (Mark 6:12,13).

  1. Unction of the sick is the sacrament through which the priest anoints the body of the sick, asking for divine grace to care both body and soul.
  2. The difference between this sacrament and that of penance is that the latter is administered (a) for all Christians (b) and for healing spiritual diseases; while the first is administered (a) only for the sick (b) and for healing bodily and spiritual diseases.
  3. There are some who think that St. James mentioned this unction as an ordinary means of healing diseases. In reply we state the following: 1. Had it been an ordinary means of healing diseases it would have been said that anyone could anoint with oil. But St. James says that it is the priests who should anoint. 2. And the healing power is not attributed to the oil but to the prayer: “ Let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” 3. Moreover, it is said, directly after that: “And if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. “This forgiveness can never be granted through mere oil.
  4. Others say that it was a healing gift given only to the Apostles. In answer it is sufficient to say that St. James speaks of this unction not as a special privilege given to the Apostles but as a sacrament to be always administered b the priests.
  5. The Church of Rome calls this sacrament “Extreme (or last) Unction” on the basis that it is administered to the sick only when they are at the point of death. This is utterly wrong because the Bible speaks of it as a means of healing, and not as helping the sick at the point of death.
  6. Institution of the Sacrament

    This sacrament was instituted by the Lord Himself:

    1. Because it was said of the Apostles that “they cast out many devils and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.” (Mark 6: 13) It is of course to be understood that they, having been sent by the Lord for that first mission, were instructed by Him to do the same.
    2. And St. James, in his Epistle, says (5: 14, 15) “Is any sick man among you? Let him call for the elders (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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” It should be taken for granted that the Apostles did not preach a gospel of their own, but that which they received from the Lord Himself. “But I certify you, brethren that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For (neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 1:11, 12) Therefore, St. James must have received that teaching directly from the Lord Himself.
    3. Moreover, the Disciples did not pretend to have instituted the church sacraments (mysteries), but they merely called themselves “ Stewards of the mysteries of God,” (1 Cor. 4:1) And it was not clearly and definitely mentioned in the Bible that Christ instituted this sacrament or some other sacraments, it was because many things were done by Him and were not written. (John 21: 25)
    4. The Fathers said that it was used as a church sacrament since the first centuries.
    5. Even the Protestant historians stated that “when the early Christians were seriously sick, they used to call the Priests of the church, and after confessing their sins they were anointed with oil by them.”

    The Visible Sign

    There are two outward signs in this sacrament:

    1. The oil with which the sick person is anointed. Before using it for anointing the sick, it should be consecrated through certain prayers.
    2. The prayers which are offered to God for healing the sick. There are certain prayers seven in number, prepared by the church for this sacrament. In addition to these prayers, certain portions of the Bible are also read.

    The Invisible Grace.

    The invisible grace which is granted through this sacrament is the healing of body and soul.

    Who has the Right to Celebrate the Sacrament?

    Although this right was given to priests, yet of course the bishops can celebrate the sacrament if they like. But it was given 10 priests because they are in direct contact with the congregation.



    Glory be to God forever. Amen.

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

Definition & Names

The Sacrament of matrimony is the holy service through which the bridegroom and the bride are united together and given the divine grace, which sanctifies their matrimonial union, makes it perfect and spiritual like the unity of Christ and the church.Matrimony is a holy sacrament, officiated by a priest, of uniting a man to a woman. Through this holy sacrament, the man and woman become one, for as the Lord Jesus said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:5,6). St. Paul expressed the sanctity of the Sacrament of Christian Matrimony, saying, This is a great mystery (Ephesians 5:32), and, Marriage is honorable among all and the bed undefiled (Hebrews 13:4).

The three goals of Christian Matrimony

  1. Cooperation between man and woman - The Lord God said: "It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him (Genesis 2:18), Woman was created for the man (Corinthians 11:9)."
  2. Procreation - David says in the Psalm, Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward. Like arrows in the hand of warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them (Psalm 127:3-5), and Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, in the very heart of your house, behold thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord (Psalm 128:3-6).
  3. Immunity against Adultery and Fornication - St. Paul mentioned: "It is good for a man not to touch a woman, not to marry. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality let each man have his own wife, and let each woman has her own husband ... For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (1 Corinthians 7).

Obligations of the Husband & Wife

The canon of the church requires that before matrimony is affected the following conditions should be met:

  1. Both couples should be Christians to obtain the grace of God.
  2. Both should belong the Orthodox Tewahedo Church. If any one of them is not a member, he/she should first be a member of the church.
  3. No pre - marital sexual relationship is permitted.
  4. Both should consent to be united in marriage.
  5. No marriage is allowed within seven generation so as not to break the rule of kinship that forbids marriage between close family relations. (Lev. 18:6-21; Deut. 7:3-4).
  6. As the marriage of Christians epitomizes the unity between Christ and the church, is shall not be broken. (Eph. 5:32).
  7. In our church one to one to one marriage only is allowed.
  8. re-marriage cannot be conducted by any one of the two partners unless divorce is affected because of adultery or one of the partners dies. (Mt. 19:6-9).
  9. The sacrament of matrimony is celebrated by bishops and priest.
  10. Matrimony is not performed without Holy Communion. (Fetha Negest Article 24:899).
  11. Parents should be consulted and their consent should be sacred

During Marriage:

Since matrimony is one of the church sacraments, marriage should be through the church. It is the duty of the priests to teach their congregation that every marriage should be in the church, and that the church does no allow any marriage performed outside it.

After Marriage:

  1. The husband should have only one wife, and the wife should have only one husband. “And He answered and said unto them, ,have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female and said. For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and the twain shall be one flesh.” (Matt. 19:4, 5)
  2. If either of them dies, the other can marry. “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives, but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:39)
  3. They can never separate but for one reason, i.e. fornication. “They are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together let no man put asunder whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery; and whose married her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matt. 19: 6,9). Therefore none is allowed to leave his wife for any other reason.

Who has the Right to Celebrate the Sacrament?

This right is given to priests. Bishops can also celebrate the sacrament. The priest raises the cross and prays the supplications, asking the Lord to grant blessing and grace upon the bride and groom, just as He blessed Adam with his wife Eve, and Abraham with Sarah, and Isaac with his wife Rebecca, and Jacob with his wife, and Joseph with his wife, and blessed the wedding of Cana of Galilee by His presence. All gathered pray the Orthodox Creed to remind the couple that their wedding is founded on the holy Orthodox faith of the one, holy, universal, and Apostolic Church. It is a reminder for them to keep the faith in truth, and instill it in their children as a precious gift. Now the priest prays three supplications for the unity of the bride and groom: for their union to be holy love not lust, and for them to rejoice in the birth of their children. He asks for their cooperation in every good work, so they may glorify the Lord by their blessed deeds.


Anointing the Couple with Oil

The priest prays over the oil in the bottle, making the sign of the cross upon it. After each prayer, the deacons respond,Amen. The priest first anoints the bridegroom, and then the bride, while the deacons chant, May this oil destroy demons and evil spirits through Jesus Christ the King of Glory. The priest then prays the following prayer of blessing, after having anointed the couple : �O God guard Your servants (...name) and (...name). Protect their union in purity. Fortify them by Your pure angels ... grant us to be in the places of rest of Your saints in the Heavenly Kingdom.

Crowning the Couple

The priest holds the crowns (or one of the deacons may hold them for him) and prays over them making the sign of the cross. After each prayer, the congregation responds, Amen. O Holy God Who crowned the saints with unfading crowns and reconciled and united the heavenly and earthly beings. O Master, bless now these crowns which we are going to set upon your servants' heads. Make these crown for them: Crowns of glory and honor. Amen! Crowns of Blessing and salvation. Amen!

.

Through these words, the couple are reminded of their heavenly crowns, which they must strive for in their lives, and not focus on earthly crowns, such as the ceremonial ones which will be removed after the ceremony. (It is the significance of the crowns placed, rather than the actual crown itself which is important). The priest asks God to grant the couple crowns of heavenly glory, salvation and delight and for victory against trials. Then the priest places the crowns on the head of the groom and then the bride, saying: �O Lord, set upon Your servants crowns of unvanquished grace. Amen! Crowns of elevated and everlasting glory. Amen!� These words refer to the heavenly crowns which are given to the repentants and those who are victorious in their spiritual struggle. Thus, the crowns which are placed on the couple�s heads are representative of the heavenly crowns; the crowns of elevated and everlasting glory.

The Rings

After placing the crowns, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which has united them, the priest then places the rings on their fingers, as a clear indication of their unity and marriage, as follows: The priest places the groom's ring onto the finger of the bride (left hand), and then the groom pushes the ring all the way on her finger. The priest places the bride's ring onto the finger of the groom (left hand), and then the bride pushes the ring all the way on his finger.

The priest places the rings onto the couple's hands, for he is the minister of God's Sacraments, and so his hand signifies the hand of Christ. Therefore, the Christian Matrimony should remain intact, for what God has joined together, no one shall separate. The groom's ring must have the bride's name engraved on it, so that when he wears the ring, it is as if he is holding her in his hands, and is responsible for her. The bride's ring must have the groom's name engraved on it, to signify that her groom has become her delight. Each partner wears their ring which has been engraved with their spouse's name, as proof of their love, commitment, and possession of each other in all things. St Paul said, The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (1 Corinthians 7:4) The bride and groom wear the rings on the left hand, for the left side is near the heart, and so they must love one another and be close to each other's heart. The wedding rings are made of gold, which is a precious metal that does not corrode. So too should be the value and preciousness of the marital bond. It does not crumble or fall apart during tribulations, but rather, shines greater, as gold that is purified by fire.



Glory be to God forever. Amen.

The Sacrament of Priesthood (Ordination)

Definition & Names

The Sacrament of Priesthood is a holy sacrament through which the bishop lays his hands on the head of the elected candidate, so that the Holy Spirit will descend on him and grant him one of the priestly ranks. He is then given the authority to officiate the Sacraments of the church, doctrines, and others. The word "priest" is designated for a clergyman who spiritually serves people and their needs. The Jewish people referred to the person who offered sacrifices and oblations as a priest. In Christianity, the priest is a member of the priesthood who performs religious rites. The word "priest" is derived from the Hebrew word "Kohen", meaning priest. This is the sacrament through which the clergy are entitled to perform the various services of the church. This sacrament has biblical basis. (Mt. 28:19, 20; Eph. 4:11; Acts 26:20).

Institution of Priesthood

This sacrament was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ when He chose the twelve of his followers, and consecrated them for ministry, He called His disciples to Him, and from them He chose twelve whom He named apostles (Luke 6:13) These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them saying: Preach saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons (Matthew 10:5-8) He gave them the authority of absolution and binding: Assuredly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18). After His resurrection He appeared to them in the upper room in Zion and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (John 20:22-23). Only for them He said, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19,20) Only to them He gave the mystery of His Holy Body and Precious Blood, And when the hour had come, He sat down and the twelve apostles with Him...He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, This is my Body which is given for you do this in remembrance of Me, likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, This is the new covenant in My Blood, which is shed for you (Luke 22:14-20). St Paul says that it was Christ Himself who appointed some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (Eph. 4: 11). And when giving advice to the ministers of the Church of Ephesus he said to them, “Take heed therefore, unto yourselves and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers” (Acts 20: 38)

Ranks of Priesthood

There are three ranks in Priesthood:

  1. The order of Deacons

"Deacon", pronounced as such in Greek, is a Syrian word meaning "servant". The deacon's responsibility is to help the priest or bishop perform the religious ministry. The first church appointed seven deacons who were full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom to help in service, The twelve summoned the multitude of disciples and said: Seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom whom we may appoint over this business (Acts 6:2,3). When they were chosen, they set them before the apostles and when they had prayed they laid hands on them (Acts 6:6). Our teacher St. Paul specified the requirements of a deacon, in his First Epistle to Timothy (3:8-13). Deacons must be:

  • reverent.
  • not double tongued
  • not given to too much wine(drunkenness)
  • not greedy for money
  • holding the mystery of faith with a pure conscience
  • should be tested first, and then proved and found blameless, so they can be ordained (1 Timothy 3:10)

Conditions of Ordaining a Deacon

  • Deacons are ordained into this order before marriage.
  • After marriage, the deacons become priests but if they wish to be monks and be ordained priests, they have to remain celibate.
  • The duty of the deacons is to assist priests and bishops.
  • They are ordained by bishops
  • In our church, there are three ranks under the deaconhood, which qualify one to serve the church. These ranks are conferred through blessing and not by the laying of hands.
  • No payment is made for receiving any of the ordinations. (Acts 8:18-26).
  • Ordination is not attained through inheritance but through a calling of the Holy Spirit and in accordance with the canons of the church.

  1. The order of Priesthood

The word "priest" or "presbyter", is derived from the Syrian word "Kashisho" meaning elder, and the Greek word "Epresvateros" also meaning "elder". It is so called due to the significance of his work and reverence given unto him even if he is not yet an old man. The word "elders" (priest) is mentioned frequently in the New Testament: "They had appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed" (Acts 14:23) For this reason I left you in Crete that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you (Titus 1:5) Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord ... (James 5:14) An elder is a priest of God and a minister of the mysteries of God. He has the authority to administer the Church Sacraments except for the sacrament of ordination (which only the bishop has the right to do). Usually, the ordination of an elder takes place from the age of thirty, for this is when Christ the Lord started His service. At this age a person will have reached intellectual maturity to help him to manage the service respectfully.

The order of priesthood is conferred either after marriage. Alternatively, after becoming a monk. He can perform all the sacraments except, conferring ordination, consecration of the holy oil used for sacrament of confirmation, consecration of the altar, the Ark of the Covenant, new church and new vessels. If he becomes a priest in celibacy, he can attain the rank of bishop; but if he is married, he will be limited to the rank of priesthood. A priest is ordained by the laying of hands and the breath of a bishop. The difference between the bishop and the minister is that the bishops have the right to appoint priests (right of laying on of hands). Our teacher St. Paul says to his disciple Titus, the Bishop of Crete:...that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city as commanded you� (Titus 1:5).

A Priest must be:

  • must be husband of one woman and his marriage correct and legal
  • If he is widowed, he should not remarry another woman, for being the father of all women, he cannot marry one of his daughters.
  • Self-controlled to serve without trouble, he must be sober-minded, just, holy, self controlled (Titus 1:8)
  • Hospitable to strangers, merciful with the poor and needy who are brothers to the Lord
  • Able to teach: as a minister is a teacher and must explain the word of truth rightly, well learned in the Holy Bible and ecclesiastical subjects to nourish his congregation by sound Orthodox doctrine, and fill them by his knowledge, ready to answer any question correctly and exhort all.
  • He must be faithful and not puffed up with pride.
  • His children should be obedient and revering, for children are a mirror image of their parents and proof of their ability (or inability) for correct, ecclesiastical, evangelical, and Christian upbringing.(Titus 1:6)
  • Must be gentle and considerate while dealing with the congregation and servants. he must not be proud and a generator of troubles and strife, for these qualities do not suit a common Christian, let alone a minister, who is to have a gentle spirit
  • He must rule his own house well, for if a man does not know how to rule his own house how will he take care of the church of God?

There are three ranks of priesthood:

  1. Priest: This is the first and essential priestly rank.Priest means elder and also an intercessor in the holies of God for the congregation.
  2. Archpriest (hegomen): The word "Hegomen" or "Egomenos" is derived from the Greek word meaning "provider" or "presenter", and the "Egomenos" is the "senior" or "leader" priest in church. If there are a number of hegomens in the church, then they must consider he who is the oldest in ordination, or the most active and knowledgeable in the rank of hegomen, as the church's provider and the first responsible person in the church. During the raising of incense, the priest is given one spoonful of incense, the hegomen two spoonfuls, and the bishop three spoonfuls of incense.

  1. The order of Bishop

This rank is conferred on a clergy who has restricted himself in celibacy. He is consecrated by all the members of the Holy Synod but in times of difficulties, he is consecrated by the laying of hands and breathe of at least two bishops. Besides administering all the sacraments of the church, he is a church leader and an overseer of the general affairs of the church. Those who are ordained as bishops must fulfill the following requirements.

  • Of good health
  • Well educated to defend and profess their faith
  • Of exemplary behavior
  • Only males
Ordination is not repeated or renewed. Both those who reordain or are preordained are deconsecrated from their ordination. (Canon of the Apostles 68). Christ chose a certain number of persons for the Holy ordination. (Lk. 6:12, 13:Jn.20: 19-25). He also gave them special authority not given to others. (Mt. 18:18). Before his ascension, Christ promised them that he will always be with them to the end of the world. (Mt. 28:20). He also appointed them with all ranks. (Lk. 24:51). When Judas left his apostolic ministry, the apostles held a syndical meeting and chose Matthias as a replacement, (Acts 1:15-26).



Glory be to God forever. Amen.