The official term to describe the sacramental or mystical actions of the Orthodox Church is "Holy Mysteries."  In the Gospel of Saint Mark (4:11), Jesus Christ told His disciples that "to you has been given the of the kingdom of God" Saint Paul used the term to refer to Christ Himself…to that which is spoken in the Spirit, and to the hidden wisdom of God (1 Cor 2:7.) The Holy Mysteries are therefore understood to be completely dependent upon God's acting in self-giving, and on our receiving, and through them God's ways and thoughts are mystically revealed and experienced. 

The Orthodox Church acknowledges at least seven Holy Mysteries which include Baptism, Chrismation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Reconciliation, Holy Eucharist and Unction (anointing for healing). While these seven may be listed in catechetical material, the Church does not adhere to the fixed number seven. Other sacramental actions of the Church also include the Funeral Service, Monastic Tonsure, and Blessing of the Waters at Epiphany, as well as other actions of our life in Christ. In Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit, not only the formal Holy Mysteries, but everything we do in the Church -- prayer, worship, service to others, and even our thoughts - participates in the life of Christ as an experience of the mystery of His Kingdom.

Podcast + Transcript

"The Eucharist Is..."

A Poetic Podcast Compilation of the Descriptions used by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, of blessed memory, to describe the Holy Eucharist. Recorded on the 25th anniversary of his departure from this life.

"The Sacrament"s by Fr. Thomas Hopko+

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"The Sacrament"s by Fr. Thomas Hopko+

Read a basic and comprehensive summary of "The Sacraments" from Fr. Thomas Hopko, of blessed memory, Former Dean of Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary.

"The Sacraments" by Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald

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"The Sacraments" by Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald

Read a descriptive summary of the Holy Mysteries of the Orthodox Church, by Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary

"The Holy Eucharist" by Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald

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"The Holy Eucharist" by Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald

Read a description of the practice and theology of the Holy Eucharist in Orthodox Christianity by by Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary

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The Sacramental Life of the Orthodox Church by Rev. Alkiviadis C. Calivas, Th.D.

The Holy Mysteries of the Orthodox Christian Faith prepare the faithful for the future life, but they also make that life real, here and now.

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