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St. Lazarus Serbian Orthodox
Cathedral "Ravanica"

100

Sacraments

Divinely instituted rituals by Jesus Christ.

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What are the Holy Sacraments?

The Holy Sacraments or Holy Mysteries (Svete Tajna), in which, when performed by the bishops or priests, the grace of God descends upon the faithful. The sacraments are divinely instituted rituals by Jesus Christ through which the abundance of grace of the Holy Spirit is conferred upon the faithful for their own salvation. Each sacrament has two aspects: a visible ritual and the invisible grace of God.

Orthodox Christians recognize seven sacraments:

  • Baptism
  • Chrismation
  • Communion
  • Penance
  • Ordination
  • Matrimony
  • Unction

The following sacraments are obligatory:

  • Baptism
  • Chrismation
  • Communion
  • Penance

 The rest are performed upon those who need them.

What is Baptism?

Baptism (krstenje) is a sacrament in which through the operation of the holy grace the following effects are achieved:

  • The candidate is cleansed from the original and all other sins committed before baptism.
  • They are spiritually “born again” for the Kingdom of God.
  • They are formally made a member of the Orthodox Church.

The visible aspect of this sacrament is the triple immersion of the candidate in blessed pure water and oil with the pronouncement, “The servant of God (name) is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The invisible aspect is the grace of God.

What is Chrismation?

In the Orthodox Church, chrismation (miropomazanje) is administered at the time of baptism. It is a sacrament in which the priest anoints the candidate with holy oil on certain parts of the body with the pronouncement: “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.: In this sacrament, the grace of the Holy Spirit is conferred upon the newly baptized person which will sanctify them and strengthen them in their spiritual life. The visible aspect of this sacrament is represented by the crosswise anointing of the forehead, eyes, nostrils, lips, ears, chest, arms and legs using holy oil, signifying consecration of human faculties. The invisible aspect is the grace of God.

What is Communion?

Communion or Eucharist (sveto pricesce) is a sacrament in which the faithful receive, under the appearance of bread and wine, the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for salvation and eternal life. Jesus Christ instituted this sacrament at His Last Supper. The visible aspect of this sacrament is represented by the leavened bread and pure wine diluted with water, as well as by the prayers of invocation of the Holy Spirit. The invisible aspect is the presence of the Holy Spirit by whose grace the bread and wine are changed into the veritable Body and Blood of Christ.

What is Penance?

The sacrament of penance or confession (sveta tajna pokajanja) precedes the sacrament of Communion. Preparation for this sacrament includes self-examination, penitence, charity, fasting and prayers. In this sacrament, the faithful confess their sins to the priest with the promise of self-reform. The priest is entitled to impose upon the sinner some activities with the intention to cure them from their moral and spiritual infirmities, and to aid and strengthen them in their regeneration. The visible aspect of this sacrament is represented by the oral confession of sins and by pronouncement of the forgiveness of sins. The invisible aspect is forgiveness of sins and reconciliation of the sinner to God.

What is Ordination?

Ordination (svestenstvo) is a sacrament in which, by the laying-on of episcopal hands and with the appropriate prayers, the grace of God is invoked on the candidate, authorizing them to perform their sacred duties according to the respective order of priesthood.

There are three orders in the sacrament of ordination:

  • Deacon
  • Priest
  • Bishop

It is an exclusive right of the bishop to perform this holy sacrament which has provided uninterrupted Apostolic succession to the Orthodox clergy from the holy apostles and the establishment of the Orthodox Church. The visible aspect of this sacrament is the laying-on of the episcopal hands on the head of the candidate, pronouncement of the invocation of the grace of God and investiture. The invisible aspect is the grace of God.

What is Unction?

Unction (jeleosvecenje) is performed over gravely sick people to cure them of their physical and spiritual infirmities. By anointing certain parts of the body with the blessed oil, the curative grace of God is invoked. The visible aspect of this sacrament is represented by appropriate prayers and the crosswise anointing with the blessed oil of the forehead, nostrils, cheeks, lips, chest and hands. The invisible aspect is the curative grace of God.

What is Matrimony?

Matrimony (sveta tajna braka) is a sacrament in which the priest invokes the grace of God to sanctify the marital tie of the bridegroom and the bride.

The visible aspect of this sacrament consists of the following actions:

  • The ritual of betrothal.
  • The couple’s declaration to be joined in holy matrimony.
  • Tying together of the right hands.
  • Placing of the crowns upon the couple’s heads.
  • Blessing of the priest.
  • Drinking from the common cup.
  • Walking in an eternal circle.

The invisible aspect of this sacrament is the grace of god which seals their marital tie, making it an image of the mysterious tie between Jesus Christ and the Church.