Dear beloved parishioners of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church,
The spiritual journey to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ begins Friday. So, this coming Saturday, Nov. 16th, from 5:00 pm to about 6: 30 pm, we’ll be celebrating the Mystery of Holy Unction (not a Great Vespers Service) as we begin the fast.
This Sacrament is described in Holy Scripture by St. James the Brother of the Lord: “Is any among you sick? 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 (James 5:14–15).” Thus, we can see that this Holy Mystery has a twofold purpose: bodily healing and the forgiveness of sins.
Of course, the Church doesn’t believe that this anointing is automatically followed by recovery of health, for God’s will and not man’s prevails in all instances. Sometimes the sick person is healed and recovers after receiving the Sacrament, but in other cases he/she doesn’t recover, but the Sacrament, nonetheless, gives him/her spiritual strength.
Our Archbishop ALEXIOS directs that all of us “should attempt to attend this service and be anointed with the blessed oil of Holy Unction. As the Priest anoints the forehead, cheeks, chin, palm and back of hands, we should ask God’s forgiveness”. His Eminence also directs that “… family members will not be permitted to take Holy Unction home, however the Priest may anoint those unable to attend the service of Holy Unction on another day.” Therefore, please contact me if you are unable to attend in order to coordinate another time of anointing.
It is appropriate that we make a self-examination of our thoughts, words and deeds since our previous confession, praying to the Lord that He, "help us see our sins so that we may repent of them." This increases our sense of humility and reliance on God’s strength. As we do for Holy Communion, it’s appropriate to seek out others we may have wronged or who have wronged us in some way and ask their forgiveness. We can have our children ask forgiveness of all their family members setting an example for them by asking forgiveness from them first. In all these ways, our children become more aware that something special is about to happen during Holy Unction.
NOTE: If possible, please fast for at least 6 hours before being anointed.
With love in Christ,