Holy Unction in the Orthodox Church

Holy Unction on Holy Wednesday

Bishop Anthony reads the Seventh Prayer at the service of Holy Unction

Last night, on Holy Wednesday, Bishop Anthony was with us to celebrate the service of Holy Unction.

. . .Hearken to our supplication, and receive it as incense offered unto thee; and visit these thy servants, and if they have done aught amiss, either by word, or deed, or thought, either by night or by day; if they have fallen under the ban of a priest, or under their own anathema; or hath been embittered by an oath, and have foresworn themselves: We beseech thee and supplicate thee: loose, pardon, forgive them, O God, overlooking their sins and wickednesses, and all which they have committed knowingly or in ignorance.

-from the Seventh Prayer of Holy Unction

Holy Unction is one of the seven sacraments of the Orthodox Church, most commonly celebrated on Wednesday evening of Holy Week (although it can be done privately at any time throughout the year). This service comes from the apostolic tradition described in the New Testament, James 5:14-15, “…let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven”.
The service of Holy Unction was also recorded by St. Serapion, a fourth century bishop, in the Euchologion of Serapion of Thmuis.

Holy Unction on Holy Wednesday
The priest anoints the faithful on the forehead, hands, etc in the form of a cross saying, “The blessing of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ: for the healing of the soul and body of the servant of God, [name], always: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen”

Holy Friday Vigil

Last night was Holy Friday (Good Friday) for Orthodox Christians. There is a tradition of some of the faithful keeping vigil at the tomb from the end of the Lamentations service until Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning.

Taken from the Antiochian Archdiocese website:

After our Lord died on the Cross, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus, bound it in linen cloths with spices and buried it in a new tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat opposite the tomb watching as their Lord was buried. The Church over the centuries has joined with these two women in keeping watch over Jesus’ tomb. The Holy Friday Vigil at Christ’s tomb is our opportunity to help keep watch over our Lord’s body as He descends in to Hell to loosen the bonds of death. What better way to understand the death and resurrection of Jesus than to participate in the Vigil by His tomb?

A handful of people from our parish signed up to read or chant, either for a few hours or as needed through the night.

One thing I like about reading through the Psalter is recognizing the verses we use in our hymnography, sometimes long sections of the psalms put to music. Other times just a few verses, like the Alleluia Verses we chant during the Bridegroom Matins.

I get tired sitting in the pew, but when someone starts chanting I can’t help but sing along, even if I’ve got my headcovering pulled halfway over my face and my eyes closed 🙂

We somehow went without doing this the past couple years, but I hope we’ll be able to keep it up from now on.

Does your parish keep vigil on Holy Friday?

Here’s a friend of mine chanting By the Waters of Babylon

And from Holy Transfiguration Monastery

2015 Pascha Basket: Part 2

It’s hard to post during Holy Week! I’ve started to work on all the homemade stuff for my Pascha basket, I’ve got two things down and many more to go. So far…

One ingredient coconut butter: start with plain shredded coconut. Blend, blend, blend. It smells heavenly, and I can’t wait to taste it.

And one batch of raw macadamia nut cheese. It’s not pretty yet – I’m putting it in this glass dish to chill, then hopefully moving it to a more appealing mold. This picture, though, shows how nicely the macadamia cream firmed up after about 36 hours hanging in a nut milk bag.

I have a tiny 1/2 C of pine nuts fermenting right now for a second cheese, and I’m about to start a batch of cashews. Then I’ll need something to eat them with.

Will you have any homemade specialties in your basket?

Holy Friday: Vespers of the Unnailing


The Epistle Reading for the Vespers of the Unnailing on Holy Friday
Brethren, the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your call, brethren: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth: but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.”

When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 1:18-31; 2:1-2

With a Lying Kiss

betrayal icon

The law-transgressing Judas, O Lord, who dipped his hand with thee in the plate at supper, hath put forth his hands with iniquity to take silver; and he who calculated the price of the spice did not shrink from selling thee, O priceless One. And he who put forth his feet for the Master to wash, deceitfully kissed him to deliver him to law-breakers. Verily, he hath been cast away with his thirty pieces of silver, without beholding thy third day Resurrection, through which, have mercy upon us.

Judas the traitor, being deceitful, betrayed the Saviour Lord with a lying kiss; and he sold the Master of all like a slave to the transgressors of the law. But the Lamb of God followed like a sheep to the slaughter, who is the only Son of the most merciful Father.
-2nd & 3rd Stichera from the Vesperal Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday, Tone 2

Victory Through Christ

Icon of St. Dorotheos
“First we go out to meet our Lord and receive him with palms and olive branches and seat him on the colt and come with him into the Holy City. What does this mean, sitting on a colt? He is seated on a colt that he may convert the soul (which, as the Prophet says, has become irrational and is compared to senseless beasts) into an image of God, and subject it to his own divinity. What does it mean, going to meet him with palms and olive branches? When someone marches out to war against an adversary and returns victorious, all his own people go before him with palm branches to mark his victory. The palm-branch is the symbol of victory. Again, when one man is injured by another, he desires to approach an authority who can vindicate him. He carries an olive branch and calls out, asking to be heard and helped. The olive branch is the symbol of mercy. Therefore, we go out to meet our Master Christ with palms because he is victorious–for he conquered our enemy–and with olive branches–for we are asking his mercy. May we, by asking, conquer through him and be found carrying the emblems of his victory, not only the victory by which he won for us, but also the victory which we won also through him by the prayers of all the Saints. Amen.”

-St. Dorotheos of Gaza

All Things are Possible to Thee

1LazarusO Lord, wishing to see the tomb of Lazarus — for Thou wast soon to dwell by Thine own choice within a tomb — Thou hast asked: Where have ye laid him? And, learning that which was already known to Thee, Thou hast cried to him whom Thou hast loved: Lazarus, come forth. And he who was without breath obeyed the One Who gave him breath, even Thee, the Savior of our souls.

Standing before the tomb of Lazarus, O Savior, and calling to the dead man, Thou hast raised him as from sleep. He shook off corruption through the Spirit of incorruption, and at Thy word he came out bound with grave-clothes. All things are possible to Thee, all things serve Thee, O loving Lord, all things submit to Thee. O our Savior, glory to Thee.

Stichera & Doxostikon for Lazarus Saturday