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Author Topic: How is each sacrament performed? What is the necessary component?  (Read 2753 times) Average Rating: 0
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loser
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« on: July 26, 2011, 08:11:01 PM »

I am interested in learning what is the defining physical component for each sacrament in each church (all orthodox and catholic churches). So I'm looking for answers like, laying on of hands, anointing with oil, breathing, etc. Explain each sacrament in detail and tell me which rite (Russian Orthodox, greek orthoodox, etc) you are explaining. For communion, explain what must be done to change the bread and wine. Please don't say something like 'there has to repentance,' or 'there has to be fasting,' etc. I am just interested in learning what is the visible component--namely the action done by the priest/bishop. So, for Chrismation in the Coptic churuch, the answer is: a person is annointed with oil in about 40 places. (i don't think the priest breathes or lays hands on him).

I am particularly interested in marriage and confession. I am a little concerned that my priest is not giving me confession the right way. Also, someone brought to my attention that the latin catholic rite for marriage is not correct, (meaning they do not become married).

Thanks,


Also, please pray for me.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 08:12:55 PM by loser » Logged
Tikhon.of.Colorado
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 08:30:41 PM »

I'll give others the chance to answer the rest of your questions.

confession is done pretty much the same way in any Eastern Orthodox Church in communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

It differs from priest to priest, though.  But only in a small way.

When I go to confession, I...
1. Go to the Gospel book and blessing cross on a stand for veneration at the far left of the iconostasis, where Father stands (with his back to the rest of the Church).

2. I venerate the Gospels and cross

3. Father puts his stole over my head, and reads prayers.

4. I confess, he advises

5. He asks "Is there anything else you would confess to God?"

6. I reluctantly say "That's all for now, Father."

7. He says more prayers, makes the sign of the cross over his stoll, and removes it from my head.

8.  I then receive a blessing, and he tells me something like "I'll pray for you" or "I have a book (or prayer) which you will find useful...".



That's confession for you.  Eastern Orthodox confession, that is.



I'm interested to know why you feel your father confessor is doing something wrong?
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 09:22:27 PM »

Someone will have to correct me if I'm, but I believe the bread and wine change at the epiklesis, the prayer by the priest for the Holy Spirit to change them.

For example, I know some EO priests don't like parishioners kneeling at the Cherubic Hymn when the Gifts are brought in the way the RCs do precisely because Consecration has not yet taken place.
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 10:02:24 PM »

Thank you for your answer trevor, but this is not what I am looking for.

What happens when the absolution is given? What is the priest required to do? I heard somewhere that he is required to breath on you. Also, does he have to put his hand (laying on of hands), or just his cross?
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 10:15:54 PM »

Thank you for your answer trevor, but this is not what I am looking for.

What happens when the absolution is given? What is the priest required to do? I heard somewhere that he is required to breath on you. Also, does he have to put his hand (laying on of hands), or just his cross?

He must make the sign of the cross on the stole (you feel it on your head).   I know that this is not what you want to be told, but you must actually be repentant of your sins, or confession is meaningless.
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 10:59:56 PM »

For the Eucharist:

1. The priest must be a properly ordained Orthodox priest, having the intention to offer the sacrifice
2. The priest must have the antimension and the Holy Things (chalice, etc)
3. Leavened bread made from wheat flour, in the proper form of loaves
4. Red wine made from grapes
5. Hot water
6. The Divine Liturgy must be celebrated, according to the guidelines of the bishop
7. There must be at least one additional Orthodox person present beside the priest ("where two or three are gathered") before the Anaphora can begin

Of course, we do not deny that in extreme circumstances (ie, in a prison camp) the Holy Spirit could descend without some of these things, "for He bloweth where He listeth." But this is the 'standard minimum' if there is such a thing.


For Baptism in extraordinary circumstances all that is required is:

1. Trinitarian formula
2. Water

Saliva or any water-based liquid would be an acceptable form of water in extreme circumstances where no water is available and death is imminent.

If the person lives, the sacrament must be completed by an Orthodox priest using the proper liturgy.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 11:07:10 PM by bogdan » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 11:13:37 PM »

Do EO people use oil during the sacrament of marriage?
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2011, 11:24:56 PM »

Do EO people use oil during the sacrament of marriage?

I don't remember seeing oil at any of the weddings I've been to. From what I recall, weddings require:

1. Priest
2. Man who is free and intent to wed
3. Woman who is free and intent to wed
4. Two sponsors
5. Two crowns (which may or may not look like crowns)
6. Two candles
7. Two rings
8. Chalice of unconsecrated wine (the common cup)
9. Performance of the marriage liturgy

Oil is used in the funeral service, however. The body is anointed just before the coffin is closed.
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2011, 11:27:00 PM »





Oil is used in the funeral service, however. The body is anointed just before the coffin is closed.

really?  I don't remember that.  How is the body anointed?
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2011, 11:30:44 PM »





Oil is used in the funeral service, however. The body is anointed just before the coffin is closed.

really?  I don't remember that.  How is the body anointed?

In the funerals I've seen, the priest pours it from a cask crosswise onto the body. It is done at the very, very end. I think in some traditions it happens graveside and not in the church.
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2011, 12:13:19 AM »

Do EO people use oil during the sacrament of marriage?

No.
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2011, 04:31:07 AM »

Any euchologion online?
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 05:50:45 AM »

Here's one, in the Greek tradition:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/eucholog.htm

And there's the Book of Needs of Slavic tradition at CCEL.
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 06:00:03 AM »

Antiochian Baptism and Chrismation: http://www.antiochian.org/midwest/holy-baptism-and-chrismation

Antiochian Divine Liturgy (Communion): http://stgeorgeaz.org/assets/files/prayers/Divine_Liturgy.pdf

Antiochian Marriage: http://www.antiochian.org/midwest/holy-matrimony

Antiochian Confession:

I have sinned, O Lord, forgive me. O God be merciful to me a sinner.

I, a sinner, confess to Almighty God, the Lord, One in the Holy Trinity, to the immaculate Virgin Mary the Theotokos, to all the Saints, and to you, my Spiritual Father, all my sins:_______________

For these and for all my other sins which I cannot now remember, I am heartily sorry that I have offended God, Who is good, and angered Him against me: I sincerely repent, and promise with the help of God to better my way of life: wherefore I humbly ask thee, my spiritual Father, saving penance and absolution.

The Priest then places stole on the head of the Penitent.

Priest:    Let us pray to the Lord.
    O Lord God, the Salvation of Thy servants, gracious, bountiful and long-suffering, who reppentest thee concerning our evil deeds, and desires not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn form his wickedness and live: Show thy mercy upon thy servant, N., and grant unto him an image of repentance, forgiveness, of sins, and deliverance, pardoning his every transgression, whether voluntary or involuntary. Reconcile and unite him unto thy Holy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom also with thee, are due dominion and majesty: now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen

The Priest places his right hand upon the Stole, making the Sign of the Cross over the head of the Penitent, and pronounces the Absolution:

Priest:    God it was who forgave David through Nathan the Prophet, when he confessed his sins, and Peter weeping bitterly for his denial, and the sinful woman in tears at his feet, and the Publican, and the Prodigal Son: May that same God forgive thee all things, through me a sinner, both in this present world, and in that which is to come, and set thee uncondemmed before his dread Judgement Seat. And now, having no further care for the sins which thou hast declared, depart in peace.

Priest:    May Christ, our true God, through the intercessions of his most Holy Mother, and of all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for as much as he is God and loveth mankind. Amen.

The Penitent returns to his seat and gives thanks to God for His goodness, by saying the following:

O almighty and merciful God, I truly thank thee for the forgiveness of my sins; bless me O Lord, and help me always, that I may ever do that which is pleasing to thee, and sin no more. Amen.
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 06:21:06 AM »

Here's one, in the Greek tradition:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/eucholog.htm

There is almost nothing in there.
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« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2011, 06:24:01 AM »

Here's one, in the Greek tradition:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/eucholog.htm

There is almost nothing in there.

You mean detailed rubrics?
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« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2011, 06:31:46 AM »

No, I mean confession, tonsures, exorcisms, penitential prayers, various blessings...
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« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2011, 06:34:56 AM »

The Great Book of Needs from CCEL (Russian tradition):

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/shann/needs.toc.html
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« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2011, 06:37:16 AM »

Much better Wink
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« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2011, 06:42:00 AM »

The Great Book of Needs from CCEL (Russian tradition):

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/shann/needs.toc.html

Wow! Thanks for sharing! Cool
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« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2011, 08:25:30 AM »

If there is no oil, then how is marriage performed. What is the defining act? (You don't have to write down the prayers that are used). At what point are they considered married? What does the priest do?


I was reading that in a certain rite in the catholic church, a priest is not necessary. Is the same true for us?
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« Reply #21 on: July 27, 2011, 08:31:57 AM »

At what point are they considered married?

When the service is done, you realise that at some point you became married  Smiley

Seriously, why do you need to have a specific "defining" moment when--POOF! ALAKAZAM!--the sacrament has been performed? It's not magic. It's not a matter of the right person saying the right words and making the right hand gestures. Just go with it Smiley

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« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2011, 08:36:22 AM »

At what point are they considered married?

When the service is done, you realise that at some point you became married  Smiley

Seriously, why do you need to have a specific "defining" moment when--POOF! ALAKAZAM!--the sacrament has been performed? It's not magic. It's not a matter of the right person saying the right words and making the right hand gestures. Just go with it Smiley




I was asking because in some catholic marriages a priest is not present. This seems very strange to me since I thought only priests can perform sacraments. But if the priest doesn't have anything important to do....

Also, recently people were suggesting that anyone can perform a baptism. And now it seems that anyone can perform a marriage. Is this the case? Can I just take a girl and be married to her on the street? What's necessary for an orthodox marriage?
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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2011, 08:43:14 AM »

Yes, any member of the Church can perform a baptism. I've never heard about marriage but I think it's about mixed marriages performed by civil authorities.
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« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2011, 09:34:02 AM »

At what point are they considered married?

When the service is done, you realise that at some point you became married  Smiley

Seriously, why do you need to have a specific "defining" moment when--POOF! ALAKAZAM!--the sacrament has been performed? It's not magic. It's not a matter of the right person saying the right words and making the right hand gestures. Just go with it Smiley




I was asking because in some catholic marriages a priest is not present. This seems very strange to me since I thought only priests can perform sacraments. But if the priest doesn't have anything important to do....

Also, recently people were suggesting that anyone can perform a baptism. And now it seems that anyone can perform a marriage. Is this the case? Can I just take a girl and be married to her on the street? What's necessary for an orthodox marriage?
In the RCC, marriage is seen as performed by the couple on each other, which is why it can happen without a priest. In Orthodoxy God performs it through the Church so a priest, crowns, etc. are needed.
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« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2011, 11:16:47 AM »

No, I mean confession, tonsures, exorcisms, penitential prayers, various blessings...

In the Greek tradition there are not as many blessings as in the Russian practice. Peter Mogilia (or however you spell his name) influenced the addition of many blessings that were previously unheard of. Liturgical items do not tend to have special blessing because they are sanctified by use and purpose.

Theory kind of goes like this, if an icon is a holy image then why does it need to be blessed, since the image itself makes the object holy.

This has been discussed in other threads before.
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« Reply #26 on: July 27, 2011, 11:21:04 AM »

At what point are they considered married?

When the service is done, you realise that at some point you became married  Smiley

Seriously, why do you need to have a specific "defining" moment when--POOF! ALAKAZAM!--the sacrament has been performed? It's not magic. It's not a matter of the right person saying the right words and making the right hand gestures. Just go with it Smiley

Legally the couple is married in the eyes of the church after the betrothal. The crowning is the blessing of the marriage by the Church. This is why couples who had been married in a civil ceremony or by someone outside of the Church, the Crowning Service is done without the Betrothal in order to sanctify the marriage.
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« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2011, 08:47:58 AM »

This crowning procedure doesn't seem to be very sacramental. Does the priest at least have to cross them during the ceremony?
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« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2011, 08:59:12 AM »

This crowning procedure doesn't seem to be very sacramental. Does the priest at least have to cross them during the ceremony?

Why don't you watch some YouTube videos or read the text online?

The priest crowns each member of the couple three times, intoning each time: "The servant of God (Name) is crowned for the servant of God, (Name), in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

In Byzantine practice, the crowning motion is done in the shape of a cross over the head of both people.

After this thrice-repeated, Trinitarian crowning of each member to the other, the priest places the crowns on their heads while chanting: "O Lord, our God, crown them with glory and honor."

Hard to be more "sacramental" than that.
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« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2011, 09:11:19 AM »

Any euchologion online?

This is completely useless for just about everyone in here but anyway here's Finnish Euchologion:

http://www.ortodoksi.net/index.php/Euhologion_%28k%C3%A4sikirja%29
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« Reply #30 on: July 28, 2011, 08:07:38 PM »

This crowning procedure doesn't seem to be very sacramental. Does the priest at least have to cross them during the ceremony?

Why don't you watch some YouTube videos or read the text online?

The priest crowns each member of the couple three times, intoning each time: "The servant of God (Name) is crowned for the servant of God, (Name), in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

In Byzantine practice, the crowning motion is done in the shape of a cross over the head of both people.

After this thrice-repeated, Trinitarian crowning of each member to the other, the priest places the crowns on their heads while chanting: "O Lord, our God, crown them with glory and honor."

Hard to be more "sacramental" than that.


Laying on of hands, breathing the holy spirit, anointing with oil---these things are mentioned heavily in the bible. But I don't know of any passage where wearing crowns or placing crowns is emphasized. Apparently, this might help to justify the Nestorian position, that marriage is not a sacrament.
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« Reply #31 on: July 28, 2011, 08:33:58 PM »

Crowns are symbols of heavenly reward in the NT, eg. Paul expects the "crown of righteousness" in 2 Timothy 4:8 which is for all believers. Couples receive the crowns because A. They are sacrificing their own wants for each other (crowns of martyrdom) and B. they are meant to help each other toward theosis (crowns of glory).

Besides,the Sign of the Cross isn't in the Bible either. Orthodoxy is not sola scriptura.
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« Reply #32 on: July 28, 2011, 08:46:32 PM »

This crowning procedure doesn't seem to be very sacramental. Does the priest at least have to cross them during the ceremony?

Why don't you watch some YouTube videos or read the text online?

The priest crowns each member of the couple three times, intoning each time: "The servant of God (Name) is crowned for the servant of God, (Name), in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

In Byzantine practice, the crowning motion is done in the shape of a cross over the head of both people.

After this thrice-repeated, Trinitarian crowning of each member to the other, the priest places the crowns on their heads while chanting: "O Lord, our God, crown them with glory and honor."

Hard to be more "sacramental" than that.


Laying on of hands, breathing the holy spirit, anointing with oil---these things are mentioned heavily in the bible. But I don't know of any passage where wearing crowns or placing crowns is emphasized. Apparently, this might help to justify the Nestorian position, that marriage is not a sacrament.

Good thing we aren't sola scripturists.  Wink

Marriage was a "late comer" to the "official" list of sacraments. But, we have to remember that even that list of seven is very Latin, and doesn't exist in the East. I've seen "lists" of mysteries that include up to fourteen different services! While most Orthodox (at least us Orthodox in the western world) tend to adopt the seven sacrament list of the RCC, there are many other services in our church that are very sacramental. Among them: The tonsuring of a monastic, the consecration of a temple, the burial of the dead, etc.

Also, there isn't really the "a-ha" moment of sacraments like often emphasized in the West. There are pinnicle moments, but not the single most important moment to the exclusion of everything else. A priest can't just take some bread and wine and make Eucharist with the words of the epiclesis. The Eucharist occurs only in the context of the full Divine Liturgy, including the Proskomede. Matrimony only occurs when a couple is betrothed, crowned and blessed. Confession only occurs with a true repentant heart, etc. There's no magical phrase that makes it all work right.

And, let's remember that these rites have definitely changed throughout the centuries. Marriage used to be the sole domain of the state, if you remember. Confession used to take place before the entire parish. There are dozens of different Eucharistic Liturgies, and variants and developments in all of them (our OO brethen often mix and match their liturgies!). While there are "minimum requirements" as was said, it's not all about saying these exact words and making these exact motions. Our faith simply is not magic.
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« Reply #33 on: July 28, 2011, 10:49:53 PM »

Good thing we aren't sola scripturists.  Wink

Marriage was a "late comer" to the "official" list of sacraments. But, we have to remember that even that list of seven is very Latin, and doesn't exist in the East. I've seen "lists" of mysteries that include up to fourteen different services!

Marriage used to be the sole domain of the state, if you remember.

Whoa! Benjamin, you are opening up my mind to completely new ideas. You must either be a super-liberal foolish, or a very highly-illuminated orthodox guru.

So you're saying that the church didn't have this list of seven sacraments from day one? I thought this was a tradition recieved directly from the apostles. This is strange to me since the number seven is mentioned so many times in the bible. I'm not sure how old the coptic psalmody is, but in it they liken the seven lamps of the old testament candlestand to the seven sacraments. Also, even though Arians and Nestorians didn't have the same sacraments, they did have exactly seven.

I don't think funeral procedures should be a sacrament since it is done after the person has died. Consecrating a church is done to a building, not to a human being, so it cannot be a sacrament. Why don't you feel that monastic (i don't know what tonsure means) should be included in holy orders?


 I thought we view all non-sacramental marriages as invalid and consider the couple to be fornicators. Are you saying that it was okay in the early church to have a marriage done by the state?
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« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2011, 10:55:27 PM »

So you're saying that the church didn't have this list of seven sacraments from day one? I thought this was a tradition recieved directly from the apostles.

Posts 467 through 474 on this thread might be of some interest to you...
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« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2011, 11:06:18 PM »

Asteriktos, is this really what EOs beleive. This is TOTALLY different than what I learned in Coptic church. Please don't stone me for saying this but, it sounds..............heterodox.
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« Reply #36 on: July 28, 2011, 11:08:17 PM »

It sounds like an idea  that a bunch of lay people would discuss while eating at McDonalds. Is this really what EO bishops teach?
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« Reply #37 on: July 29, 2011, 12:10:58 AM »

I promise not to stone you if you don't stone me Wink  In one of the posts on the other thread (that I linked to) I quoted an Orthodox theologian, Fr. John Meyendorff, who in turn quotes various Eastern Orthodox writers through the centuries (including saints), who have different ideas about how many sacraments there are. If the Coptic Church decided on 7 then I wouldn't say that they got things wrong; all I know is that things don't seem to be so clear in my own Church. Even Met. Kallistos, in his book The Orthodox Church, says:

Quote
The Orthodox Church speaks customarily of seven sacraments, basically the same seven as in Roman Catholic theology... Only in the seventeenth century, when Latin influence was at its height, did this list become fixed and definite. Before that date Orthodox writers vary considerably as to the number of sacraments: John of Damascus speaks of two; Dionysius the Areopagite of six; Joasaph, Metropolitan of Ephesus (fifteenth century), of ten; and those Byzantine theologians who in fact speak of seven sacraments differ as to the items which they include in their list. Even today the number seven has no absolute dogmatic significance for Orthodox theology, but is used primarily as a convenience in teaching.

Those who think in terms of ‘seven sacraments’ must be careful to guard against two misconceptions. In the first place, while all seven are true sacraments, they are not all of equal importance, but there is a certain ‘hierarchy’ among them. The Eucharist, for example, stands at the heart of all Christian life and experience in a way that the Anointing of the Sick does not. Among the seven, Baptism and the Eucharist occupy a special position: to use a phrase adopted by the joint Committee of Romanian and Anglican theologians at Bucharest in 1935, these two sacraments are ‘pre-eminent among the divine mysteries.’

In the second place, when we talk of ‘seven sacraments,’ we must never isolate these seven from the many other actions in the Church which also possess a sacramental character, and which are conveniently termed sacramentals. Included among these sacramentals are the rites for a monastic profession, the great blessing of waters at Epiphany, the service for the burial of the dead, and the anointing of a monarch. In all these there is a combination of outward visible sign and inward spiritual grace. The Orthodox Church also employs a great number of minor blessings, and these, too, are of a sacramental nature: blessings of corn, wine, and oil; of fruits, fields, and homes; of any object or element. These lesser blessings and services are often very practical and prosaic: there are prayers for blessing a car or a railway engine, or for clearing a place of vermin (‘The popular religion of Eastern Europe is liturgical and ritualistic, but not wholly otherworldly. A religion that continues to propagate new forms for cursing caterpillars and for removing dead rats from the bottoms of wells can hardly be dismissed as pure mysticism’ (G. Every, The Byzantine Patriarchate, first edition, p. 198)) Between the wider and the narrower sense of the term ‘sacrament’ there is no rigid division: the whole Christian life must be seen as a unity, as a single mystery or one great sacrament, whose different aspects are expressed in a great variety of acts, some performed but once in a man’s life, others perhaps daily.

--here is an online version
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« Reply #38 on: July 29, 2011, 07:39:38 AM »

I promise not to stone you if you don't stone me Wink  In one of the posts on the other thread (that I linked to) I quoted an Orthodox theologian, Fr. John Meyendorff, who in turn quotes various Eastern Orthodox writers through the centuries (including saints), who have different ideas about how many sacraments there are. If the Coptic Church decided on 7 then I wouldn't say that they got things wrong; all I know is that things don't seem to be so clear in my own Church. Even Met. Kallistos, in his book The Orthodox Church, says:

Quote
The Orthodox Church speaks customarily of seven sacraments, basically the same seven as in Roman Catholic theology... Only in the seventeenth century, when Latin influence was at its height, did this list become fixed and definite. Before that date Orthodox writers vary considerably as to the number of sacraments: John of Damascus speaks of two; Dionysius the Areopagite of six; Joasaph, Metropolitan of Ephesus (fifteenth century), of ten; and those Byzantine theologians who in fact speak of seven sacraments differ as to the items which they include in their list. Even today the number seven has no absolute dogmatic significance for Orthodox theology, but is used primarily as a convenience in teaching.

Those who think in terms of ‘seven sacraments’ must be careful to guard against two misconceptions. In the first place, while all seven are true sacraments, they are not all of equal importance, but there is a certain ‘hierarchy’ among them. The Eucharist, for example, stands at the heart of all Christian life and experience in a way that the Anointing of the Sick does not. Among the seven, Baptism and the Eucharist occupy a special position: to use a phrase adopted by the joint Committee of Romanian and Anglican theologians at Bucharest in 1935, these two sacraments are ‘pre-eminent among the divine mysteries.’

In the second place, when we talk of ‘seven sacraments,’ we must never isolate these seven from the many other actions in the Church which also possess a sacramental character, and which are conveniently termed sacramentals. Included among these sacramentals are the rites for a monastic profession, the great blessing of waters at Epiphany, the service for the burial of the dead, and the anointing of a monarch. In all these there is a combination of outward visible sign and inward spiritual grace. The Orthodox Church also employs a great number of minor blessings, and these, too, are of a sacramental nature: blessings of corn, wine, and oil; of fruits, fields, and homes; of any object or element. These lesser blessings and services are often very practical and prosaic: there are prayers for blessing a car or a railway engine, or for clearing a place of vermin (‘The popular religion of Eastern Europe is liturgical and ritualistic, but not wholly otherworldly. A religion that continues to propagate new forms for cursing caterpillars and for removing dead rats from the bottoms of wells can hardly be dismissed as pure mysticism’ (G. Every, The Byzantine Patriarchate, first edition, p. 198)) Between the wider and the narrower sense of the term ‘sacrament’ there is no rigid division: the whole Christian life must be seen as a unity, as a single mystery or one great sacrament, whose different aspects are expressed in a great variety of acts, some performed but once in a man’s life, others perhaps daily.

--here is an online version

Fr. Myendorff's and Metropolitan Kallistos' thoughts are consistent with the way in which we were taught in the 1960's growing up Orthodox. While there are 'seven' sacraments per se not all are equal and there are important 'sacramentals' throughout the church year as well. It is more important to understand the concepts than to recite a list by rote, though there is room for both in most brains!
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« Reply #39 on: July 29, 2011, 08:13:26 AM »

Whoa! Benjamin, you are opening up my mind to completely new ideas. You must either be a super-liberal foolish, or a very highly-illuminated orthodox guru.

So you're saying that the church didn't have this list of seven sacraments from day one? I thought this was a tradition recieved directly from the apostles.



In my mind there is no doubt that my tonsuring as a monk was just as much one of the holy Mysteries/Sacraments as my baptism and my ordination.

This is the tradition I received from my Church, from my bishop, from the monk and archimandrite who tonsured me on a snowy winter night in the presence of dozens of monks and nuns and this tradition is held by every single monk and nun I have ever met, whether in Serbia or on Mount Athos -- and I am not inclined to reject what my brethren believe. (Nor will I muddy the waters by an attempted distinction between Sacraments and Sacramentals which is bringing in a Roman Catholic distinction unknown to the Orthodox.)

There is no Council accepted by the Orthodox which has defined or limited the Sacraments to seven. The entire Tradition works against such an idea.

Has anyone here mentioned that the first official pronouncement of 7 and only 7 Sacraments in the West is found at the Council of Florence as late as the 15th century. Prior to that the number in the West wavered a great deal and at one time it was as high as 15. The Eastern Church continues on, without being hampered by any Council to the contrary, in that same happy and nebulous numerical state which we shared with Catholics until the 15th century.

I think that someone here once quoted an Australian Catholic Byzantine monk and here are his words again:

"The sacraments are essentially the irruption into
time and space of the Mystery of Salvation, that is,
the Mystery of God's love and life.

"The mysteries are described as the Divine touching
the Created, a kind of grace-filled event, having
nothing to do with the whatness, whereness, whenness
of the happening. Rather, it marks God's creation
of a new reality -- as in a new creature in Christ Jesus."

http://www.hrmonline.org/

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« Reply #40 on: July 29, 2011, 08:17:31 AM »

Wow, this really changes my perspective on things.

But if some people did not consider marriage a sacrament, does that mean that getting a civil marriage is okay? What if two people just decide to live a married life without any special ceremony?
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« Reply #41 on: July 29, 2011, 08:31:13 AM »

Wow, this really changes my perspective on things.

But if some people did not consider marriage a sacrament, does that mean that getting a civil marriage is okay? What if two people just decide to live a married life without any special ceremony?

"On December 28, 1998, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church regretted to state that «some spiritual fathers tend to declar common-law marriage invalid or demand that spouses, who have lived together for many years but were not married in church for this or that reason, should divorce… Some spiritual fathers do not allow persons who live in «unwed» marriage to communicate, identifying such a marriage with fornication». The decision adopted by the Synod points out that «while insisting on the necessity of church marriage, the Synod reminds pastors that the Orthodox Church also respects common-law marriage»."

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/3/14.aspx

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« Reply #42 on: July 29, 2011, 09:26:10 AM »

Wow, this really changes my perspective on things.

But if some people did not consider marriage a sacrament, does that mean that getting a civil marriage is okay? What if two people just decide to live a married life without any special ceremony?

"On December 28, 1998, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church regretted to state that «some spiritual fathers tend to declar common-law marriage invalid or demand that spouses, who have lived together for many years but were not married in church for this or that reason, should divorce… Some spiritual fathers do not allow persons who live in «unwed» marriage to communicate, identifying such a marriage with fornication». The decision adopted by the Synod points out that «while insisting on the necessity of church marriage, the Synod reminds pastors that the Orthodox Church also respects common-law marriage»."

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/3/14.aspx


One thing I would think involved, Father, is that the people affected were mostly not raised in the Church, and any marriage that they were in when they were received were recognized. I know that the Antiochian archdiocese only requires those being accepted as candidates for ordination be married in the Church, but even that is a relatively recent rule.  Mostly they just accept the convert in the estate he is in.

The idea of breaking up couples rather than offering to bless the union. Someone is worried more about his scrupulosity than the Gospel, and no knowledge of family life.
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« Reply #43 on: July 29, 2011, 09:34:34 AM »

Wow, this really changes my perspective on things.

But if some people did not consider marriage a sacrament, does that mean that getting a civil marriage is okay? What if two people just decide to live a married life without any special ceremony?

"On December 28, 1998, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church regretted to state that «some spiritual fathers tend to declar common-law marriage invalid or demand that spouses, who have lived together for many years but were not married in church for this or that reason, should divorce… Some spiritual fathers do not allow persons who live in «unwed» marriage to communicate, identifying such a marriage with fornication». The decision adopted by the Synod points out that «while insisting on the necessity of church marriage, the Synod reminds pastors that the Orthodox Church also respects common-law marriage»."

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/3/14.aspx


One thing I would think involved, Father, is that the people affected were mostly not raised in the Church, and any marriage that they were in when they were received were recognized. I know that the Antiochian archdiocese only requires those being accepted as candidates for ordination be married in the Church, but even that is a relatively recent rule.  Mostly they just accept the convert in the estate he is in.

The idea of breaking up couples rather than offering to bless the union. Someone is worried more about his scrupulosity than the Gospel, and no knowledge of family life.

In my experience, this is one of the major problems within Orthodoxy. We can easily become as 'rule-bound' as the most canon law bound Catholic while pretending to call it something else. Good point.
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« Reply #44 on: July 29, 2011, 10:09:08 AM »

Wow. guys. These teachings really sound different from the Orthodoxy I grew up with. I always thought that there was exactly seven sacraments and that the number seven in the bible always represents the seven sacraments. I also thought that for an Orthodox person to get a marriage outside the church is always sinful.

I feel very confused now. Either, my whole life I have been misled, suffering in vain. Or, you guys are misleading me right now, abandoning Orthodoxy for some flashy Americanism religion.

Can someone recommend some books by early church fathers that discuss these topics?
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« Reply #45 on: July 29, 2011, 10:30:47 AM »

I am interested in learning what is the defining physical component for each sacrament in each church (all orthodox and catholic churches). So I'm looking for answers like, laying on of hands, anointing with oil, breathing, etc. Explain each sacrament in detail and tell me which rite (Russian Orthodox, greek orthoodox, etc) you are explaining. For communion, explain what must be done to change the bread and wine. Please don't say something like 'there has to repentance,' or 'there has to be fasting,' etc. I am just interested in learning what is the visible component--namely the action done by the priest/bishop. So, for Chrismation in the Coptic churuch, the answer is: a person is annointed with oil in about 40 places. (i don't think the priest breathes or lays hands on him).

I am particularly interested in marriage and confession. I am a little concerned that my priest is not giving me confession the right way. Also, someone brought to my attention that the latin catholic rite for marriage is not correct, (meaning they do not become married).

Thanks,


Also, please pray for me.
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« Reply #46 on: July 29, 2011, 01:03:45 PM »

Wow. guys. These teachings really sound different from the Orthodoxy I grew up with. I always thought that there was exactly seven sacraments and that the number seven in the bible always represents the seven sacraments. I also thought that for an Orthodox person to get a marriage outside the church is always sinful.

I feel very confused now. Either, my whole life I have been misled, suffering in vain. Or, you guys are misleading me right now, abandoning Orthodoxy for some flashy Americanism religion.

Can someone recommend some books by early church fathers that discuss these topics?

There are divergence in practice and teaching that the Oriental Orthodox have from main line Orthodox Christianity. You will find books from Orthodox sources that talk about the 7 Sacraments but, if you study and understand what sacraments are you begin to realize there are so many more then just the typical 7. This idea of 7 is a Western concept that is sometimes used in order to help people from that background understand Orthodoxy.

You should understand that when you ask a question outside of one of the Oriental boards your answer will be majority from the Chalcedonian Orthodox perspective.
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« Reply #47 on: July 29, 2011, 07:45:21 PM »

So, in conclusion, are civil marriages okay? Please answer.





Also, pray for me. I feel so lost after what I've just learned.
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« Reply #48 on: July 29, 2011, 08:46:26 PM »

Good thing we aren't sola scripturists.  Wink

Marriage was a "late comer" to the "official" list of sacraments. But, we have to remember that even that list of seven is very Latin, and doesn't exist in the East. I've seen "lists" of mysteries that include up to fourteen different services!

Marriage used to be the sole domain of the state, if you remember.

Whoa! Benjamin, you are opening up my mind to completely new ideas. You must either be a super-liberal foolish, or a very highly-illuminated orthodox guru.

So you're saying that the church didn't have this list of seven sacraments from day one? I thought this was a tradition recieved directly from the apostles. This is strange to me since the number seven is mentioned so many times in the bible. I'm not sure how old the coptic psalmody is, but in it they liken the seven lamps of the old testament candlestand to the seven sacraments. Also, even though Arians and Nestorians didn't have the same sacraments, they did have exactly seven.

I don't think funeral procedures should be a sacrament since it is done after the person has died. Consecrating a church is done to a building, not to a human being, so it cannot be a sacrament. Why don't you feel that monastic (i don't know what tonsure means) should be included in holy orders?


 I thought we view all non-sacramental marriages as invalid and consider the couple to be fornicators. Are you saying that it was okay in the early church to have a marriage done by the state?


The number seven is very important in Christianity, and it no doubt played into the West's consideration when they chose the number. But, as has been stated earlier, no such limitations existed for fifteen hundred years.

In an Orthodox funeral, the newly-departed is prayed for, anointed with oil and given a final absolution. That sounds very sacramental to me. Why are sacraments limited to people? Mysteries are simply the grace of God being bestowed upon his Church. The consecration of a temple is certainly a grace-filled mystery, in spite of it not being done to a person, it is something done for the Church. And tonsuring of a monastic isn't quite the same as holy orders. It isn't a specific dispensation for a liturgical role, it is simply the consecration of a human being to a specific way of life, much like marriage, but is surely is a very serious grace-filled mystery.

I'm not saying that marriage wasn't originally seen as sacramental. St. Paul speaks very clearly about the sacramentality of marriage in his epistles. However, the marriage service was civil before being taken over by the Church. The civil service would be conducted, and then the union blessed by the Church. Later on, the Churches role in blessing the marriage grew into an entire service. Both ways are sacramental, and were seen that way at the time. I'm not saying marriage "became" a sacrament later, I'm saying that the marriage service as it is today was a later development. The understanding of marriage, however, is ancient.



So, in conclusion, are civil marriages okay? Please answer.

Also, pray for me. I feel so lost after what I've just learned.

No. An Orthodox Christian is to be married in the Church. If he or she is married without the blessing of the Church, it is fornication.

However, if a non-Orthodox couple has a civil ceremony, and later come to Orthodoxy, they should be received into the Church as a married couple.
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« Reply #49 on: July 29, 2011, 10:09:12 PM »

I don't know for sure at which point a sacrament is effective, but I think some of the posts above that discuss the process, such as the Proskomidi (Preparation) service being an important aspect of the Preparation of Holy Communion, as is the Consecration, are probably more to the point than a specific action.

A young priest who thought that the joining of the hands was the moment that the Sacrament (Mystery) of Holy Matrimony is effectuated, asked his bishop his opinion.  The bishop replied, the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a continuous process, from the beginning of the service, "Blessed is our God..." to the conclusion "Through the prayers..," when the mystery of the sacrament is effective.  (This reminds me of the Western practice, "I now pronounce you husband and wife," sometimes done by Orthodox clergy, is consistant with the bishop's explanation indicated herein, except for the "I" being inconsistent with Orthodox teaching.)

A few comments about practices I've seen noted above, my experience being from the GOAA:  

At the conclusion of the Funeral Service, the deceased is anointed with oil by the priest in the form of the cross, upon the chest, "Sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be cleansed, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow;" having previously been sprinkled in the form of the cross with dirt (ground), "Earth thou art and to Earth thou shall return."

In the Sacrament of Holy Confession, the priest places his stole over the penitent's head, who is kneeling, when reading the prayer of absolution.  As to the "breathing," it could be on his own initiative, a priest, suspecting demonic influence, breathes as he does during the Baptism, "Expel from him/her every evil and impure spirit hiding and lurking in his/her heart (3);" just my own guess, not a practice during Confession I've ever seen.
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« Reply #50 on: July 30, 2011, 12:27:26 AM »

No. An Orthodox Christian is to be married in the Church. If he or she is married without the blessing of the Church, it is fornication.

I agree that high standards ought to be maintained but it is not quite as black and white as all that.

Please go back to message 41, the position of the Russian Orthodox Church.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,38246.msg610149.html#msg610149
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« Reply #51 on: July 30, 2011, 02:54:29 PM »

No. An Orthodox Christian is to be married in the Church. If he or she is married without the blessing of the Church, it is fornication.

I agree that high standards ought to be maintained but it is not quite as black and white as all that.

Please go back to message 41, the position of the Russian Orthodox Church.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,38246.msg610149.html#msg610149

Father, bless.

Of course my statement is an oversimplification. As I stated originally, marriage has long been a purview of the state, and the Church recognizes that. This is why, when married converts are received, they are received as married, and do not have to be "married" within the Church.

I also believe that, in Russia, the above statement is useful, given the closeness of the Russian Church and state prior to the Revolution, and as economy for the reception of those Orthodox who had civil marriages under the Soviet regime. It makes a lot of sense.

However, I'm not sure that also means that I, as an Orthodox Christian, could run off with some girl and get married in a civil service without the blessing of the Church and that would be all right. It wouldn't be. There would certainly be penance involved for me, and for her as well if she is Orthodox. Woe to me more so if I marry someone who isn't Orthodox, or isn't even Christian. However, will the Church consider us excommunicate until we marry in the Church? And what if she is not Orthodox? Not Christian? What then? That is the decision of the bishop. If we are required to have a Church marriage in order to return to full communion, the bishop is within his authority to require that. If something less is required (e.g., a simple blessing and time of penance) that is within his mercy.

Please, Father, correct me if I am wrong.
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