Spiritual developmentChristianity

What is the church ritual in Orthodoxy?

The Orthodox Church has established the tradition of performing many rituals that affect the life of a believer in different ways, but at the same time always establish his connection with God. Some of them came to us from Biblical times and are mentioned in the Holy Scripture, others have a later origin, but all of them, in conjunction with the holy mysteries, are integral parts of the common spiritual foundation of our faith.

The difference between rituals and sacraments

Before we start talking about what church rituals are in Orthodoxy, it is necessary to emphasize their fundamental difference from other forms of sacred action, which are called sacraments, and with which they are often confused. The Lord gave us 7 sacraments: baptism, repentance, anointing, marriage, communion, anointing, priesthood. When they are committed, the grace of God is invisibly communicated to believers.

At the same time, the church ritual is only part of the earthly reality that elevates the human spirit to the adoption of the sacrament and directs its consciousness to the feat of faith. It should be remembered that all ritual forms receive their sacred significance solely through the accompanying prayer. Only thanks to her, action can become a ritual, and the external process - become a rite.

Types of Orthodox rituals

With a great deal of conventionality, all Orthodox rites can be divided into three categories. The first are the liturgical rituals, which are part of the general order of the liturgical church life. Among them is the Holy Shroud removal carried out on Great Friday, the year-long blessing of water, as well as the consecration of artos (leavened bread) at the Easter week, the church ritual anointing with oil, performed in the morning, and a number of others.

To the next category belong so-called everyday rituals. These include the consecration of the dwelling, various products, including seeds and seedlings. Then we should name the consecration of good undertakings, such as the beginning of fasting, traveling or building a house. The same should be attributed to the church rituals for the deceased, which include a wide range of ritual and ritual actions.

And finally, the third category is the symbolic rites established in Orthodoxy to express certain religious ideas and are a symbol of the union of man with God. In this case, a vivid example is the sign of the cross. This is also a church rite, symbolizing the memory of the sufferings suffered by the Savior, and at the same time serving as a reliable fence against the actions of demonic forces.


Let us dwell on some of the frequent rituals. Everyone who happened to attend church in the morning (worship performed in the morning) became a witness, and maybe a participant in the rite, in which the priest makes a cross-like anointing of the believer's forehead with a consecrated oil called oil.

This church rite is called anointing. He symbolizes God's mercy poured out on man, and he came to us from the Old Testament times, when Moses commanded to anoint with sacred oil of Aaron and all his descendants - ministers of the Jerusalem temple. In the New Testament, the Apostle James in his conciliar message mentions his healing effect and says that this is a very important church rite.

Soborozhdenie - what is it?

In order to prevent a possible mistake in understanding two common rituals - the rite of anointing and the sacrament of sabotage - some clarification is required. The fact is that each of them uses a consecrated oil - oil. But if in the first case the actions of the priest are of a purely symbolic nature, in the second case they are aimed at calling God's grace.

Accordingly, the Sacrament of Sobor is a more complex sacrament, and according to church canons, seven priests are performed. Only in extreme cases is it allowed by one priest. The anointing with oil is performed seven times, while reading passages from the Gospel, chapters from the Epistle of the Apostles and special prayers for this occasion. At the same time, the church ceremony of chrismation, as mentioned above, consists only in the fact that the priest, blessing, paints the sign of the cross on the believer's forehead with oil.

Rituals related to the end of man's earthly life

An important place is also occupied by the church rite of the funeral and the subsequent remembrance of the deceased. In Orthodoxy, this is given special significance in view of the importance of the moment when the human soul, leaving the perishable flesh, passes into eternity. Without touching all of its sides, we will dwell only on the most significant points, among which the funeral deserves special attention.

This funeral service can be performed on the deceased only once, unlike the requiem, lithium, remembrance, etc. It consists in reading (singing) the established liturgical texts, and for the world people, monks, priests and babies their order is different. The purpose of the funeral service is to ask the Lord for the remission of sins to His newfound slave (slave) and grant peace to the soul who left the body.

In addition to the burial service, the Orthodox tradition also provides for such an important ceremony as a requiem. It is also a prayer song, but in duration it is much shorter than the burial service. It is customary to perform a memorial service on the 3rd, 9th and 40th days after the death, as well as on its anniversary, the name-day and the birthday of the deceased. When removing the body from the house, as well as during the church commemoration of the deceased, another ceremony of the funeral service - lithium - is performed. It is somewhat shorter than the funeral service and also passes in accordance with established rules.

Consecration of dwellings, food and good beginnings

Sanctification in the Orthodox tradition is called rituals, as a result of which God's blessing descends upon man and everything that accompanies him in this earthly life. According to the teaching of the church, until the second coming of Christ in the world around us, the enemy of the human race, the devil, will invisibly create his own black work. We are doomed to see external manifestations of his activity everywhere. It is impossible for a man to resist him without the help of Heavenly powers.

That is why it is so important to cleanse our homes with church ceremonies from the presence of dark forces in them, to prevent the evil one from entering us along with the tasty food or to place invisible obstacles in the way of our good endeavors. However, it should be remembered that any rite, as well as a sacrament, gains strength only under the condition of unswerving faith. To sanctify anything, while doubting the efficacy and power of the rite, is an empty and even sinful act, to which all the same enemy of the human race is invisibly pushed us.

The Holy Synod

It is impossible not to mention the rite of consecration of water. According to the established tradition, water education (water consecration) is small and great. In the first case, it is performed many times during the year during the prayer service and at the sacrament of Baptism. In the second, this rite is performed once a year - during the Feast of the Epiphany.

It is established in memory of the greatest event described in the Gospel - the immersion of Jesus Christ into the waters of the Jordan, which became the prototype for the washing of all the sins of man, taking place in the holy font, which opens the way to the bosom of Christ's church.

How can one confess to receive absolution?

Church repentance in sins, regardless of whether they were deliberately committed or through ignorance, is called confession. Being a sacrament, and not a rite, confession has no direct relation to the topic of this article, and yet we will briefly discuss it in view of its extreme importance.

The Holy Church teaches that everyone who goes to confession must first of all reconcile with his neighbors if he had any quarrels with them. In addition, he must sincerely grieve over what he did, otherwise how can one confess without feeling guilty? But this is not enough. It is also important to have a firm intention to improve and continue to strive for a righteous life. The main foundation on which the confession is built is faith in the mercy of God and the hope of His forgiveness.

In the absence of this last and most important element, repentance is useless. An example of this is the Gospel Judas, who repented that he had betrayed Jesus Christ, but he was hanging out because of a lack of faith in His boundless mercy.

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