November 18, 2021

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Church and Her Mysteries (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Church and Her Mysteries
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

These short sermons, my beloved brethren, which will take place during the summer months in the Sacred Temples of our Metropolis during the Divine Liturgy, as is customary, will refer to the great subject of the Mysteries of our Church and will briefly present the main points of each mystery, both to emphasize their value and to participate in them.

Today's introductory sermon will address the topic "The Church and Her Mysteries".

We have repeatedly emphasized that the Church is not a human organization but a God-man organism, not a human association but the God-man Body of Christ. Everything that happens in the Church is full of the Grace of God and the entirety of life in the Church is blessed. Even a prayer that one addresses, as a member of the Church, to God, with compunction and contrition, is a cause of blessing and experience, to varying degrees, of the Grace of God. It has been said that there are Seven Mysteries, namely Baptism, Chrismation, Divine Communion, Confession, Priesthood, Marriage and Unction, of which four are obligatory and the other three are optional. But the truth is that there are three basic Mysteries of the Church, namely Baptism which is called the introductory mystery, through which we enter the ecclesiastical life, Chrismation which is the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, and Divine Communion through which we partake of the Body and the Blood of Christ. Saint Nicholas Cabasilas says that Baptism is the spiritual birth of man, Chrismation is movement, and Divine Communion is life.

Finally, we must emphasize that the mysteries are the taps through which we receive the water of Grace of the Holy Triune God, and of course we participate in God's gifts according to our spiritual state, that is, according to the degree of the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God.

Saint Nicholas Cabasilas writes that the Church is "shown in the mysteries", that is, the Church is revealed through the mysteries, which means that through the mysteries we experience that we are members of the Church. Saint Gregory Palamas writes that the Church feeds us as infants with her two breasts, which are Baptism and the Divine Eucharist. Without them we cannot live, nor can we claim to be true members of the Church.

And, of course, we must be well aware that our participation in these mysteries has preconditions, that is, to have faith in the divinity of Christ and our salvation, proper spiritual preparation and a sense that we are members of the Church of Christ.

We must partake of the Mysteries of the Church to be true members and to feel that we belong to a spiritual family.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.