A General Introduction to the Holy Mysteries
1 The Definition of Holy Mysteries
1.1 The Lord Jesus is the Mystery which "was kept secret for long ages' (Romans 16:25). He was incarnate in the fullness of time and gave Himself for man and saved us. When He ascended to the heavens after his resurrection, He did not abandon man-'I wiII not leave you orphans' (John 14:18)but He sent the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). He established the Church and made of it his Body: the giver of life and "the piIIar and ground of the truth' (1 Timothy 3:15).
1.2 The Church is the Body of the living and life-giving Christ. She gathers believers to her lap by the Holy Spirit who acts within her: "And I will pray the Father" and he will give you another Comforter" to be with you for ever' (John 14:16).
1.3 The Holy Mysteries are sacred actions performed by the Church through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. In these she offers to believers the grace of the Holy Spirit with tangible signs to sanctify them and make them true children of God in an incomparable worship. In that worship God through the Holy Spirit draws people to Himself and to the Church" his Body, so that they grow in grace and stature, becoming perfect persons, "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ ... a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing' (Ephesians 4:13; 5:27).
2 The Number of the Holy Mysteries
The Holy Mysteries as Holy Church is accustomed to cite them are: Baptism" Holy Chrism, the Eucharist, Repentance, the Mystery of Priesthood, Marriage, and the Mystery of the Holy Oil.
3 The Complementarity and Interrelation of the Holy Mysteries
The effect of the Holy Mysteries is complemented and corelated in the human soul.
By Baptism, man has a second birth into the spiritual life. In Holy Chrism, we obtain the grace that confirms us in this spiritual life and enables us to grow in it. At the Eucharist, we are nourished by divine food and united with the source of grace and eternal life. Through Repentance, we are healed from our sins. In the Mystery of Priesthood, man receives the grace by which to bring others to new birth in God through the Holy Mysteries and the word. In Marriage, man receives the grace of matrimonial union and the power to form a family. By the Mystery of the Holy Oil, man receives healing for spiritual and physical illnesses.
4 The Celebration of the Holy Mysteries
A bishop or a canonically ordained Orthodox priest serves the Holy Mysteries according to the rules set down for performing each Holy Mystery.
5 The Place of Celebration
5.1 A priest serves the Holy Mysteries in his own parish; but he may serve them or share in a celebration outside his parish in the same diocese, after informing the parish priest concerned. If he serves the Holy Mysteries or shares in a celebration outside his diocese, he must have the permission of the local bishop.
5.2 A priest may not leave his parish to serve the Holy Mysteries in another parish without the permission of his superior.
6 The Performance of the Holy Mysteries
In the performance of the Holy Mysteries it is imperative to adhere strictly to what is appointed in the ritual books. Only the relevant ecclesiastical authority may alter what is laid down therein, whether by adding or deleting or making any other kind of change.
7 The Participation of the Faithful in the Holy Mysteries
7.1 The Holy Mysteries are to be celebrated in church with the active participation of the faithful. They are actions pertaining to the whole Church and are not to be regarded as private and individual celebrations.
7.2 Faithful believers, who have been properly prepared, participate frequently in the Holy Mysteries so that they may receive the graces granted through them and so that the Holy Mysteries may bear fruit to eternallife in their souls.
7.3 Baptism cannot be repeated: 'I believe in one Baptism' (The Creed). The Mystery of Priesthood also can only be conferred once.
If there should be any remaining doubt as to the validity of a baptism, and if this doubt is sustained after a thorough investigation, then the baptism must be repeated, conditionally.