It is beyond our human comprehension as to why our Lord would allow the suffering that we have to endure as we encounter the death of a loved one, especially those of untimely and sudden nature. At St. Elias we don’t even attempt to answer this (for doing so will imply elevating our knowledge to that of God’s). One fact remains, however: Death is caused by the evil of this world, but our God is most compassionate and merciful, and is always in control; He has a “planning calendar and a blue print” to which we have no access.
During those difficult times, the church will put forth all its resources, and marshal the entire community, to provide comfort to our grieving brethren. For our clergy, being with the family of the deceased takes precedence over any other church activity. (We hope that those who may be inconvenienced by rearrangement of the priests’ and deacons’ schedules understand the reasons behind this).
Prayer services will be performed at the Funeral home according to the wishes of the family; however, the funeral service is always done at the church in a closed casket.
In addition, Sunday memorial services are said on the 9th and 40th day. The family of the deceased traditionally offers Holy Bread and/or especially-prepared “Boiled Wheat” to be used for the memorial services.
The funeral services may be conducted for any deceased person that was a member of the Eastern Orthodox Faith in good standing both spiritually and financially, for at least one (1) year last past, for the person, as well as for other acceptable persons in accordance with canon law.
The sacrament of Baptism allows us to follow the tradition of our Lord as he was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. It is a “new Birth by water and the Holy Spirit” into the Kingdom of God. John3:5.
It is recommended that children be baptized at the earliest possible age. The selection of the Godparents should be made with care. As the name implies they will be the parents who have the secondary (and if need be the primary) responsibility of the spiritual needs of the child. And since the Godparents will be speaking on behalf of the child, they must be members in good standing in the Holy Orthodox Church.
During the sacrament of Baptism, the baby receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Chrismation) as well as First Communion.
Baptisms should be scheduled with the pastor as early as possible. In addition to properly selecting the Godparents, select a name of a saint to be used as that child’s middle name. Also please bring to the church 2 large white towels (child is totally immersed), new white outfit for the child (born again in purity), and a cross (“..must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me”) and 2 large white candles.
For the three Sundays following the baptism, it is traditional for the Godparent to bring the child to receive communion.
No child may be refused baptism. In all events one of the Godparents must be of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Faith and must have been a member of an Orthodox Church in good standing spiritually and financially, for at least one (1) year last past.
Anointing the Sick
The power of healing (on God’s terms) are an inherent part of the Orthodox faith. We are reminded in the Scriptures: “Are any among you suffering? They should pray…They should call the presbyters [priests] of the Church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of Faith will save the sick, and the Lord raise them up… The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” James 5:13-16
Special church services are periodically held to pray for the health of one or more of our parishioners. This service is similar to the one that takes place during Wednesday of Holy Week.
In addition, our priests make it a priority to visit the sick, be it at home or in hospitals. Please notify the church office if you know of someone who may be in need of prayer service and the anointing with the Holy Oil.
Additional Holy Oil, that was blessed and mixed with the Tears of the Icon of the Miraculous Lady of Cicero, is also available anytime.
The sacrament of anointing (sometimes known as “Unction”) is intended for spiritual, physical or even mental illness, and regardless of the nature or gravity of the illness. And since it is a sacrament, it is reserved only for Orthodox Christians.
If one is to identify a single concept that makes the Orthodox Church unique it is that of “Continuity and Apostolic Succession”. This uninterrupted trace to Jesus and His disciples can be preserved only through the Ordination of our Priests by the physical presence of a Bishop, who confirms and certifies that the candidate is capable of teaching and practicing the Orthodox faith as written in the Bible by the church fathers.
Today St. Elias is served by the Pastor, Fr. Elias Nasr.
As Orthodox Christians, we have to think strategically and prepare ourselves for the coming decades, by encouraging young men to enter the seminary and otherwise prepare themselves for the Holy Priesthood. One need only to observe the life of our ordained clergy to realize what a demanding and thankless vocation it is. However, it is a calling; and very “few are chosen”, but the rewards…well, you can say “they’re out of this world!” Please…always remember our clergy in your prayers.
For those who may have heard the calling (or even a whisper of it) and are interested in ordination to the Deaconate or beyond, a three year Masters in Divinity degree is required. Scholarships are available for qualified candidates.
In an era where the concept of family and marriage is being diluted, it is refreshing to see the value the Orthodox Church places on the Sacrament of Marriage. It is not “until death do us part,” rather the Sacrament allows us to sanctify our human love into an unending Divine experience.
The wedding ceremony uses traditional symbolism to reinforce the necessity of God’s presence as a prerequisite to a successful marriage. Among the items used are Crowns, which indicate that the grace of the sacrament makes the couple a prince and princess in the kingdom of God at that time, as well as a reminder of the martyrdom and sacrifice that must be made by the husband and wife. You may bring your own crowns (if you prefer to keep them), or the church will provide them for your use. Two large candles are also used in the ceremony, which the couple needs to bring with them.
Marriage Preparation Classes are a prerequisite to the sacrament. It creates an opportunity to openly discuss with one of our clergy the responsibilities and the rewards of a “Christ-centered” marriage.
A Wedding Day is the most memorable for newlyweds. We at St. Elias want to help make it an enjoyable and inspirational experience. Please try to notify the pastor of the date as early as possible. Our Choir Director, Cantor are generally available, (please contact them directly if you’ll be needing them).
At least one of the parties to the marriage is a member of the Orthodox Faith and further provided that the other party, of the marriage is acceptable under the Canon Laws of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Orthodox party must have been a member of an Orthodox Church in good standing both spiritually and financially for at least one (1) year last past.
What are the qualifications and responsibilities of church membership? What are the requirements and rules relevant to sacraments of the Orthodox Church? In this series on “Members & Sacraments” we are publishing excerpts from the Archdiocesan Priest Guide and other sources that answer these important questions. Please share this information with your family and friends so that we can all be on the same page.
The following requirements are from the Priest Guide:
- Marriage is prohibited between ascending and descending blood relatives (e.g., between parents and children, or grandparents and grandchildren) in the direct line.
- Marriage is prohibited between collateral blood relatives to the Sixth Degree, e.g., first cousins.
- Marriage is prohibited between relatives by marriage to the Fourth Degree, e.g., between two brothers and two sisters, or a brother and his sister to a sister and her brother.
- Marriage is forbidden between spiritual relatives to the Fourth Degree, e.g., Godchildren with their Sponsors at Baptism.
- Marriage between blood relatives in the collateral line may be permitted in the Fifth and Sixth Degree, and marriage between relatives by marriage may be permitted in the Third and Fourth Degree, and between spiritual relatives in the Third and Fourth Degree in cases of extreme urgency. Such case MUST be reported to the Metropolitan of this Archdiocese who may issue a written dispensation.
- Understanding that the liturgical day begins at the Vesper Hour (sunset) the celebration of marriage is prohibited at the following times:
- Every Wednesday and Friday, the eve of every Sunday and Great Feast throughout the year, the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross (September 14), and the commemoration of the Beheading of the Forerunner (August 29).
- During the Christmas Fast (November 15 to December 25).
- During the Great Lent, including Cheese Week and Bright Week, i.e., from Meat Fare Sunday to Thomas Sunday.
- During the Dormition Fast (August 1-15).
- NOTE: In cases of extreme necessity when the celebration of marriage is considered necessary on one of the above listed prohibitive days or seasons, the Priest must first report the nature of the emergency to the Metropolitan and request written permission and dispensation which would permit the celebration of a marriage.
- The Sacrament of Marriage must be administered in a church building and not a private home. In cases where both parties are Orthodox, they should be instructed by the Priest to receive the Sacraments of Penance and Communion. If necessity requires the offering of the Marriage Service outside of a church building, a written dispensation must be requested from the Metropolitan.
The Holy Eucharist (Eucharist means Thanksgiving), or Communion, gives us an opportunity to continue the memory of Christ’s passion and unite ourselves to Him. It is the Sacrament of Sacraments. For Jesus commanded: “Do this in memory of me.”
All Orthodox Christians are expected to take part in this experience on a regular basis. The Holy Communion is given every Sunday to those who have physically and spiritually prepared themselves to receive The Body and Blood of Christ. Unless a communicant is ill, he or she is expected to have abstained from any food or drink (including smoking, chewing, etc.) since midnight. Spiritually, they are also expected to have enacted the Sacrament of Confession; and have cleansed their soul and conscience by settling any and all disagreements and misunderstandings, or have at least made a sincere attempt to do so.
Although we welcome and encourage all Christians to pray and worship with us, only Orthodox Christians may receive Holy Communion. The sad chapters in our history that divided Christianity, continues to deprive us from sharing in the Last Supper. This lack of “the common cup” should be used as a reminder to us, and an incentive for all Christians of goodwill, to work together on reuniting us into One, Holy, Universal and Apostolic-driven Christian Church.