June 21, 22, 23, 2013

Sacraments & Services

CONFESSION/SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

“Those who have received from God authority to bind and loose must take into consideration the quality of the sin and the willingness and the readiness of the sinner to return, and thus offer a treatment suited to the sin in question, lest by employing an immoderate adjustment in one direction or the other, they fail in compassing the salvation of the one ailing… for all that matters to God and to the person undertaking pastoral leadership consists in the recovery of the straying sheep, and in the healing of the one wounded by the serpent.”
(Canon 102 of the Penthekte Council)

The above canon beautifully captures the essence of confession and spiritual direction within the Orthodox tradition as a therapeutic science, concerned not with legalistic details, but with the healing, restoration, and salvation of the whole person.

The sacrament of Confession provides the opportunity for the reconciliation and restoration of a person’s relationship with God and the Church when this relationship has been distorted by serious or habitual sin. Moreover, within the context of confession, the priest/confessor also has the opportunity to offer spiritual direction and guidance in a personal, individualized manner.

Confession should not be seen as a prerequisite for every reception of Holy Communion; however, neither should its importance in the life of every Christian be diminished. Regular confession is essential in order to be in proper relationship with God and the Church, and this is a prerequisite for receiving Holy Communion. Anyone who receives Holy Communion frequently should also receive the sacrament of confession on a regular basis.

To schedule a confession with a priest, one should call the church office to make an appointment.

HOLY COMMUNION

“If thou hast purposed, 0 man, to eat the body of the Lord, approach in fear lest thou be scorched, for it is fire. And before drinking the Divine Blood unto communion, first reconcile thyself to them that have wronged thee…”
(From the prayers of preparation for Communion)

Participation in the Eucharist, the communion of the body and blood of Christ is the most awesome of mysteries: it is sharing in the divine-human life of Christ Himself. As St. Nicholas Cabasilas exclaims “O how great are the Mysteries! What a thing it is for Christ’s mind to be mingled with ours, our will to be blended with His, our body with His body, and our blood with His blood!” (see Life in Christ). For this reason, Holy Communion should always be approached with proper preparation. Two false assumptions need to be addressed in this regard. The first is that one should not partake regularly of the Eucharist because one is not worthy; once or twice a year is sufficient. In fact, this reasoning is faulty, since one is never worthy to receive Holy Communion; this is precisely why they are called the divine gifts. On the other hand, another false assumption is that participation in Holy Communion requires little or no preparation at all. As the above prayer indicates, the Holy Mysteries must be approached with proper respect and preparation, which includes not only self-preparation through prayer, fasting, and spiritual disciplines, but also reconciliation with the believing community, one’s brothers and sisters in Christ.

Holy Communion may be received only by those who:
1. have been baptized and/or chrismated in the Orthodox Church;
2. have had their marriage blessed (if married) in the Orthodox Church;
3. have properly prepared to receive Holy Communion by prayer and fasting;
4. have participated in Holy Confession on a regular basis;
5. arrive on time for the Divine Liturgy (at the latest, before the reading of the Gospel).

In Orthodox theological perspective, participation in Holy Communion is an all-embracing event, presupposing full communion in doctrine and practice. For this reason, Orthodox Christians are not permitted to receive Communion in any Protestant or Roman Catholic Church. Likewise, Protestants and Roman Catholics are not permitted to receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. When you bring visitors to the Church Services, please be sure they are aware of this practice of our Church. Only when all the churches become fully united in faith and practice will we be able to receive Holy Communion from a common chalice.

HOLY UNCTION

This Sacrament is celebrated every year on Holy Wednesday, and may also be celebrated occasionally throughout the year, at which time everyone in the parish may be anointed with the Holy Oil for the healing of spiritual and bodily ills.

The Sacrament of Holy Unction may be celebrated any time of the year in case of serious illness. Please call a priest to make arrangements.

 

 

 

Message from Fr Gary

Fr Gary

Four in Three


Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible. We find classic lines like, “To everything there is a season,” or “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” Taken as a whole, the Book of Ecclesiastes is full of wonderful wisdom. During my time at the seminary, a beloved priest professor would encourage us to read the entire book from beginning to end whenever we felt overwhelmed with the pressures of life. This tool served me well as a student, and has become a valuable tool in my ministry to Christ’s Church. A Priest witnesses all the emotions of life. You rejoice at the birth of a child and you mourn with the passing of a loved one. Ecclesiastes verbalizes this sentiment well.


In the past three weeks, I have participated in four funerals. Four beloved individuals left this world in the hope of the resurrection. Two funerals were for 30 something year old’s and two funerals were for 80 something year old’s, yet their loved ones shed the equal number of tears at each of the funerals. All four individuals left behind the same thing, a lasting memory of the relationships developed. Their grieving loved ones mourn their physical losses.


In late February, we lost Kevin, a 33 year old loving husband, father of two, son and good friend. Kevin battled stage 4 oral cancer for 16 months before leaving this life. During his last days, as he prepared to die, he taught those around him how to live! His love for baseball inspired a road trip, with his father, to San Francisco to see his beloved Giants play, and the holidays gave him the opportunity to express his love for his family and friends as they showered him with their loving sentiments. I stood, in rapt amazement, watching his beautiful young wife, with her their two year old child in her arms, sharing cherished memories. She made us laugh and she made us cry, but she reminded us that our hope as Christians is in our Lord’s Resurrection.

Continue Reading