Sacraments and Divine Liturgy
-What is a Sacrament?
A Sacrament is a visible act performed by a minister of the Church by which an invisible grace is given to our souls.
-Do the Sacraments always give grace?
Yes, the Sacraments always give grace to those who receive them worthily.
-Should we have a great desire to receive the Sacraments?
Yes, we should have a great desire to receive the Sacraments because they are the chief means of our salvation.
-How many Sacraments are there?
There are seven Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Penance, Ordination, Matrimony, and Prayers over the sick.
-What is Baptism?
Baptism is a Sacrament, which cleanses usfrom original sin and gives our soul the new life of sanctifying grace.
-What other graces does Baptism give us?
By Baptism we become Christians, i.e. children of God, members of the Church, and heirs of heaven.
-Is Baptism absolutely necessary for salvation?
Yes, Baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation because Christ has said: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’
-Who is the minister of Baptism?
The minister of Baptism is the priest.
-How is Baptism performed?
Baptism is performed by immersing the child into the water three times, giving the name, and saying at the same time, ‘This servant of God is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
-Why is the child immersed into the water three times?
The child is immersed three times in memory of Our Lord’s remaining in the tomb for three days.
-How soon should a child be baptized?
A child should be baptized as soon as possible after a week of his/her birth.
-What sin do parents commit who put off for a long time, or entirely neglect, the baptism of their children?
Parents who put off for a long time, or entirely neglect the baptism of their children commit a very grievous sin because they deprive the child of the grace of baptism and endanger his/her right to eternal life. The Church does not bury those who die without being baptized.
-Can baptism be repeated?
No, baptism cannot be repeated if performed by a lawful minister of the Church and in the right way.
-What kind of name should be given a child at baptism?
If the given name is not a Saint’s name, it is advisable that aSaint’s name also be given as a second name.
-What is a godfather?
A godfather is a Christian man who sponsors the child for membership in the Church at the baptism.
-What is the function of the godfather?
The function of the godfather is to hold the child in his arms and act as a spokesman for him at the baptism.
-Can a non-Armenian Church member be a godfather at the baptism of an Armenian child?
The godfather at an Armenian Baptism must be a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church because he is sponsoring the child to become a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church. You cannot sponsor someone to become a member of a certain society unless you are a member of it.
-What does the child promise through his godfather at baptism?
The child promises through His godfather at baptism to renounce the devil and all his works, and to live according to the teachings of Christ and His Church.
- What does the child ask at baptism through his godfather?
The child asks for faith, hope, love, and baptism.
-What is the duty of a godfather after baptism?
The duty of a godfather after baptism is to see that the child is brought up as a good Christian and a good Church member is, cooperation with the parents.
-Who should be chosen as godfather at baptism?
Only those members of the Church who know their faith and live up to the duties of their religion should be chosen as godfather for baptism.
-What is Confirmation?
Confirmation is a Sacrament by which we receive the Holy Spirit in order to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.
-When does Confirmation take place?
Confirmation takes place immediately after Baptism.
-How is Confirmation administered?
Confirmation is administered by anointing with Holy Chrism (Myron) the nine parts of the body, saying a special prayer for each part.
-Which are the nine parts of the body of the newly baptized child that are anointed at Confirmation?
They are the forehead, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, heart, back and feet.
-What is Holy Chrism (Myron)?
Holy Chrism is a mixture of olive oil and essence of forty three kinds of fragrant flowers, balms, and various kinds of incense.
-Who consecrates the Holy Chrism?
His Holiness the Catholicos alone consecrates the Holy Chrism in anelaborate and sacred ceremony assisted by the bishops and priests of the Church.
-What is the Sacrament of Penance?
Penance is the Sacrament whereby the sins, which we have committed after Baptism are forgiven.
-When, did Our Lord institute the Sacrament of Penance?
Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Penance when He breathed on His Apostles and gave them power to forgive sins, saying: “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” This power was given by Christ to His Apostles and through them to their successors, the bishops and thereby the priests of the Church.
-What is sin?
Sin is disobedience to the commandments of God.
-Is temptation a sin?
No, temptation is not a sin, if the act to which we are tempted isnot committed.
-How is a sin committed?
A sin is committed by thought, by word, and by deed.
-How many kinds of sin arethere?
There are two kinds of sin: Mortal sin and Venial sin.
-What should the penitent do to receive Forgiveness?
Three conditions are required on the part of the penitent to receive forgiveness: Contrition, confession, and doing penance.
-What is contrition?
Contrition is a sincere sorrow for our sins, together with a firm purpose to sin no more.
-How may we have a firm purpose to sin no more?
We may have a firm purpose to sin no more by avoiding not only sin itself, but also the dangerous occasions of sin.
-How can we obtain a sincere sorrow for our sins?
We can obtain a sincere sorrow for our sins by earnestly praying for it, and by reminding ourselves that by our sins we have offended God, Who is infinity good to us.
-What consideration, concerning Our Savior will lead us to sorrow for our sins?
We must consider that Our Savior died for our sins and that by sinning grievously we crucify Him again.
-What is confession?
Confession is to accuse ourselves of our sins before a priest for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness from God.
-How can we make a good confession?
We can make a good confession by:
1.Being humble and sincere.
2.Praying heartily for the grace to wake a good confession.
3.Examining carefully our conscience.
4.Taking time to make a good act of contrition.
5.Resolving by the help of God to renounce out sins and to begin anew life for the future.
-In what manner must we make our confession to the priest?
We must go to the Church; kneel before the priest in the presence of God; make the sign of the Cross saying: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. Then recite “Our Father” and then say: “I have sinned against the all Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I confess before God, and before the Holy Mother of God and before all the Saints and before thee, father, all the sins, which I have committed. For I have sinned in thought, word, and deed, willingly and unwillingly, knowingly and unknowingly, I have sinned against God.” Then we mention whatever sin we may have committed and tell our priest about any problem weighing on our conscience; and finally ask him for Absolution.
-What do we mean by doing penance?
We mean to carry out the obligations imposed upon us by the priest.
-Why do we have to do a penance after our confession?
We have to do a penance after our confession so that we may make some reparation to God for our sins, and that we may receive help to avoid them in the future.
-What must we do in addition to the penance imposed on us by the priest or when he does not impose any Penance?
1.Do acts of charity.
2.Increase our social works to the Church.
3.Read theHoly Bible and other religious books.
4.Give more time for private prayers and Church attendance.
5.Deprive ourselves of some particular pleasures we especially like,
6.Endure our hardships and sufferings patiently.
7.Observe the days of abstinence.
DAYS CF ABSTINENCE
-What is a day of abstinence?
A day of abstinence is aday on which we are not allowed the use of meat, dairy products and eggs.
-Which are the days of abstinence?
The days of abstinence are:
1.All Wednesdays and Fridays of the year except those falling in the period between Easter and Ascension day.
2.Weekdays of Lent and Holy Week.
3.Weekdays preceding certain great holy days.
-Why does the Church command also abstain?
The Church commands us to abstain so that we may mortify the flesh and satisfy God for our sins.
-Is it a dutyto contribute to the support of our Church?
Yes, it is a duty to contribute to the support of our Church according to our means, so that God may be duly honored and worshipped and the Kingdom of His Church advanced.
-Who is the minister of penance?
The minister of penance is the priest.
-How does the priest forgive sins?
The priest forgives sins in the name of God, when he pronounces the words of absolution
-What is absolution?
Absolution is a pronouncement made by the priest in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of the sins of the penitent.
-How should we ask absolution from the priest?
After confessing our sins and receiving the instructions of the priest, we must say: “Reverend Father, I hold thee as my reconciler and intercessor with the only begotten Son of God, that by the power given thee, thou wilt release me of the bond of my sins, I pray thee.”
-What are the words of absolution said by the priest?
The words of absolution said by the priest are: “May God, the lover ofman, have mercy upon thee and grant thee forgiveness of all thy sins, both those which thou hast confessed and those which thou hast forgotten. Therefore, with the priestly authority, and by Divine command that whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, I absolve thee of all participation in sin committed in thought, in word, and in deed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and I re-instate thee in the Sacraments of the Holy Church, that whatsoever good thou mayest do, may he accounted to thee for good and for the glory in the life to come. Amen.”
-What is Holy Communion?
Holy Communion is the Sacrament, in which we receive, under the appearance of bread and wine, the true Body and Blood of our Lord,
-Who instituted Holy Communion?
Christ instituted Holy Communion at the Last Supper the night before He died.
-how did Christ institute Holy Communion?
Christ instituted Holy Communion in this way: He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it toHis Apostles, saying: “Take and eat, THIS IS MY BODY”: then He took a cupof wine, blessed it, and giving it to them said: “Drink ye all of this; THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE NEW COVENANT which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins;” finally He gave His Apostles the commission: “Do this inremembrance of Me.”
-What did Christ, mean when He said ‘Do this in remembrance ofMe’?
When Christ said: “Do this in remembrance of Me,” He gave to the Apostles the order to do this sacred ritual as a memorial of His passion and death, suffered for the salvation of mankind,
-How are the bread and wine changed into the Body and Blood of Christ?
The wine and bread are changed into the Body and Blood of Christby the power of the Holy Spirit, to whom, all things are possible.
HOLY SACRIFICE OR DIVINE LITURGY -Is Holy Communion a Sacrament only?
Holy Communion is not a Sacrament only, it is also a sacrifice as the Armenian word ‘Badarak” describes it.
-What is sacrifice orBadarak?
A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God. In this Holy Sacrifice Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God under the elements of bread and wine.
-What isthis sacred act called?
This sacred act is called Divine Liturgy or Holy Mass.
-Is the Divine Liturgy one and the same sacrifice with that of the Cross?
The Divine Liturgy is the same sacrifice as that which Christ Himself offered on the Cross to His heavenly Father.
-For what purpose is this sacrifice or the Divine Liturgy offered?
This sacrifice is offered
1.As a memorial of the Passion and Death of our Lord.
2.To satisfythe justice of God for the sins committed against Him.
3.To be united with Jesus Christ, the source of our spirituallife.
4.To thank Him for all His benefits to us.
5.To obtain all other graces and blessings through Jesus Christ
ATTENDANCE AT THE DIVINE LITURGY
-How must we attend the Divine liturgy
We must attend the Divine Liturgy with reverence, with attention and with devotion.
-What is necessary to receive Holy Communion worthily?
To receive Holy Communion worthily it is necessary to have:
1.A right intention
2.To go to confession and receive the absolution of the priest.
3.To be fasting for at least six hours or from midnight before partaking of Holy Communion unless, for reasons of health, one has obtained permission from his priest to take medicine or light nourishment.
-Is it a sinto receive Holy Communion, without confession?
Yes, it is a great sin to receive Holy Communion without confession as St. Paul said, “He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself.”
-How should we prepare ourselves for Holy Communion?
We should prepare ourselves for Holy Communion by:
1.Thinking of our Divine Redeemer. Jesus Christ, Whom we are about to receive into our hearts.
2.Examining our conscience to recall to our mind all the sins we have committed since our last confession.
3.Making reconciliation with those of our fellow men with whom we are not on good terms.
RECEIVING OF THE HOLY COMMUNION
-When, is Holy Communion received?
Holy Communion is received during theDivine Liturgy immediately after the “Der Voghormia” (Lord Have Mercy) and “Chrisdos badarakial” (Christ is Sacrificed) are sung by the choir and the curtain is withdrawn.
-What should wedo after Holy Communion?
Alter Holy Communion we must spend some time in prayer, thanking Our Lord for the grace we have received, renewing our promises of love and obedience to him, and asking Him for blessings for ourselves, our families, our community and our Church in general.
-How often are we to receive Holy Communion?
We are instructed to receive Holy Communion:
1.At least on five greater Holy Days of the Church, Christmas, Easter, Transfiguration (Vartavar), Assumption (St. Marys Day), Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
2.As often as we can; without fail at Easter and Christmas time.
3.When entering a hospital during an illness.
4.When in need of strengthening ourselves spiritually.
-How is Holy Communion administered?
Holy Communion is administered in both kinds; the priest puts a small portion of the Holy Body (consecrated bread) dipped in the Precious Blood (consecrated wine), into the month of the person communicating.
-How are small babies given Holy Communion?
The priest simply touches the lips ofthe small babies with his finger, which has previously been dipped in the Precious Blood (consecrated wine). ‘This is called Communion by lips.
-What is the Sacrament of Matrimony?
Matrimony is the Sacrament by which the Church consecrated the union of a man and a woman, for life in a lawful marriage.
-Who instituted the Sacrament of Matrimony?
God instituted the Sacrament of Matrimony by creating Adam and Eve and by uniting them in marriage.
-What special grace does the Sacrament of Matrimony bestow upon those who receive itworthily?
The Sacrament of Matrimony’ gives to those who receive it worthily a specialgrace to:
1.Make them, a unit in the kingdom of God,
2.Make them instruments of the increase of the family of God, i.e. His Holy Church.
3.Give them strength to perform parental duties.
-What are some ofthe parental duties?
Some of the parental duties are:
1.To bring up their children in the fear of God
2.To love and be faithful to one another.
3.To bear patiently the difficulties of their state.
-Who has the authority to perform, the Sacrament of marriage?
Only those who have the priestly order have the authority to perform the Sacrament of marriage.
REQUIREMENTS FOR MARRIAGE
-What are the principal requirements of the Church for a lawful marriage?
The requirements are:
1.To be of proper age.
2.To he in good health.
3.Not to be of close kinship.
4.To have mutual agreement.
5.To have a witness at the marriage (best man). This witness should be preferably of our faith, at least a Christian.
6.To be of the same faith.
-What should a good Church member do to prepare for a holy and happy marriage?
To prepare for a holy and happy marriage, a good Church member should:
1.Pray that God may direct his/her choice.
2.Seek the advice of the parents and the priest.
3.Practice the moral virtues, especially temperance and chastity.
4.Regularly attend the Church and frequently receive Holy Communion. It is an obligation for the man and woman to receive Holy Communion a few days before the marriage ceremony.
RULES FOR MARRIAGE
-What is the sixth commandment of the Church?
The sixth commandment of the Church is not to marry within certain degrees of kinship, nor to solemnize marriage at the forbidden times.
-Which are the times on which the Church forbids to solemnize marriage?
The times in which it is forbidden to marry without special permission are
1.period of Lent.
2.Holy Week and the week after Easter.
3.All days of abstinence..
-What are the certain degrees of kinship within which we are forbidden to marry?
We are forbidden to marry with a first cousin or any relative closer than a first cousin.
-Does the Church encourage mixed marriage, outside of our faith?
No, the Church does not encourage mixed marriages because they often bring about family discords, indifferentism, and neglect of the proper religious training of the children in our faith.
-What is Ordination?
Ordination is the Sacrament through which men receive the power and the grace to perform the sacred duties of priests, bishops, and other ministers of the Church.
-What are some of the requirements to receive Holy Orders worthily?
To receive Holy Orders worthily it is necessary to:
1.Have a calling for the ministry and be of excellent character.
2.Have the prescribed age, learning, and physical perfection.
3.Have the sincere intention to devote his life to the sacred ministry and be free from selfish motives.
-What are the chief powers of the priest?
The chief powers of the priest are:
1.To perform the Divine offices and all the rituals of the Church, except the consecration of a Church.
2.To preach the word of God.
3.Toadminister all the other Sacraments except Ordination.
4.To govern his parish according to the canons of the Church.
-Why is the office of a priest honorable?
The office of a priest is honorable because he is a consecrated person; he administers the holy mysteries of the Church; he has devoted his whole life for the good of the Church.
MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH
-What is an ordained person called?
The ordained person is called a minister of God.
-Who is the minister of the Sacrament of Ordination?
The bishop is the minister of the Sacrament of Ordination.
-What are the main Holy Orders in the Armenian Church?
The main Holy Orders or ranks in the Armenian Church are Clerk (Chorister), Deacon, Priest, Vartabed, Bishop, Patriarch, and Catholicos.
-How is power given to the ministers of the Church?
The power is given to all ministers of the Church by the imposition of hands; however, a priest, a bishop, and the Catholicos are, in addition, consecrated by the anointment of Holy Myron.
PRAYER OVER SICK
-When is this Sacrament administered?
This Sacrament is administered when the sick one is in great pain and in need of comfort and healing.
-How is this Sacrament administered?
This Sacrament is administered by reading the Gospel and other prayers prescribed for the occasion, by hearing the confession of the sick person, and by giving Holy Communion.
-What other ceremony accompanied these prayers in the earlier days of the Church?
In the earlier days of the Church the priest used to anoint certain parts of the body of the sick with the Holy Chrism (Myron). From this ceremony the Sacrament derived the name of Last Anointment or Extreme Unction.
-When is it advisable to call the priest to visit the sick?
It is advisable to call the priest to visit the sick in any serious illness even though there be no apparent danger of death, as it is the duty of the priest to visit the sick and to administer to his spiritual needs.