The Sacraments, Divine Mysteries of the Church

Do you know what a sacrament is?  A sacrament or divine mystery by its most basic definition is a special occasion of Divine grace. Most of us have heard of the seven main sacraments or mysteries of the Church they are: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Communion, Confession, Holy Unction, Marriage, and Ordination.  Some people within their lifetime will receive each of the seven main sacraments while others may only participate in four or five.  Yet every Orthodox Christian receives at least three of the sacraments during their life: Baptism, Chrismation, and Holy Communion.

Some sacraments we only participate in once in our lives such as Baptism or Ordination, but other sacraments can or should be received each week and even daily, like Holy Communion.  In fact we should try and prepare ourselves each day to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. 

A Christian’s life is an opportunity to participate mystically by grace in the life of Christ. Saint Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia wrote, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2.20). We participate in the sacraments of the church by faith trusting in God who promised to abide in His Church of which we are each members and does so through these divine mysteries. In turn we are communicants in the Divine Life of God and the grace of God changes us.

The Sacraments of the Church then are the Christian life itself because they make it possible to receive Jesus Christ.  This means that every day is special for a Christian because each day and every hour we are preparing ourselves to receive our Lord. We do this most often through the receiving of the Holy Eucharist (Eucharist is another word for Holy Communion).  In our preparation for Holy Communion we fast, we pray, we commit ourselves to acts of charity and love, we receive Holy Confession but most importantly we offer ourselves to Jesus Christ. We come to the Divine Liturgy to receive God and like St. Paul find that Christ comes to dwell within us. The Divine Liturgy is an act of love on the part of God in that He offers Himself for the life and salvation of the world. It is also an offering of love on our part as we too offer ourselves to God and to the world so that we may become bearers of Christ and His love in the world.

Sacraments then are a way for every one of us, from the oldest to the youngest, to receive God.  They are a way for us to take part in the Divine Life and to become closer to our God.