Holy Sacraments / Mysteries
"Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God" (John 3:5)
Anointment of the Sick
The word Sacraments is a derivation of the Latin term “Sacramentum,” which literally means “seal” or “stamp.” In the ancient Roman world, the oath taken by soldiers and the stamp put on the animal for sacrifice were indicated by the same word Sacramentum. The Eastern Churches (Orthodox Churches) prefer to use the word “Mysteries” to denote the Sacraments of the Church. The word Mystery derives from the Greek term “Musterion.” St. Augustine of Hippo gives definitions to the Sacraments as visible signs of invisible grace and signs of sacred things. According to the Orthodox understanding, we enter into and participate in the divine salvific Mysteries (Eph. 3:4,9; 6:19; Col. 1:26ff). Sacraments are highest and unique activities of the Church and Church is the supreme Mystery of Christ.
The sacraments are the actions of God within the Church in which God grants us His grace by means of this material world. It is in the sacraments that the grace of God is brought to us as a gift. God takes this world, the matter of this material creation, and unites it in an incomprehensible way with Himself, and this material world brings to us the grace, which we are unable to raise ourselves up to.
The holy mysteries in the Orthodox Church are vessels of the mystical participation in divine grace of mankind. In a general sense, the Orthodox Church considers everything which is in and of the Church as sacramental or mystical.The sacraments, like the Church, are both visible and invisible. In every sacrament there is a combination of an outward visible sign with an inward spiritual grace. Saint John Chrysostom wrote that they are called "mysteries" because what we believe is not the same as what we see; instead, we see one thing and believe another.
The sacraments are personal — they are the means whereby God’s grace is appropriated to each individual Christian. In most of the sacraments, the priest mentions the Christian name of each person as he administers the sacrament.