The Holy Mysteries are at the very center of our life in the Church. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware states that, in the mysteries, “the Church takes material things—water, bread, wine, oil—and makes them a vehicle of the Holy Spirit.” He adds that, in every one of the mysteries, “there is the combination of an outward visible sign with an inward spiritual grace.” (The Orthodox Church, p274).
Since, in the words of the Apostle Paul, we are called to be “stewards of the mysteries” (1 Cor 4.1), what you will find on this page are basic guidelines for participating in some of these acts of worship with our parish community. Of course, in such a brief document, it is impossible to anticipate every need or situation, so, if you have questions that are not addressed, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
All baptisms take place on Sunday mornings, prior to the Divine Liturgy. Adults are baptized after an extended period of preparation and instruction called the catechumenate. (You can click on this link for information about that process: Putting on Christ) Infants are baptized only if their parents are already members in good standing of our parish community.
Only Orthodox Christians who are in good standing with their parish community are able to participate in the Eucharist. In our parish community, if you wish to partake of the Eucharist, you must also arrive at the Divine Liturgy before the reading of the Holy Gospel. If you are an Orthodox Christian visiting from out of town, and you wish to participate in the mystery, we would ask that you contact us before you arrive at the Divine Liturgy. Christians who are not members of the Holy Orthodox Church are not permitted to partake of the Eucharist. This is not because we Orthodox wish to be divisive or exclusive; it is simply an honest recognition of the fact that we do not all share the same beliefs.
This mystery is available almost every Saturday night of the year, immediately after Great Vespers (please be sure to use the sign-up sheet that is available in the narthex; this ensures that no one is overlooked or left out). Confession is also available just about any other time by appointment with our parish priest. Only Orthodox Christians can participate in the mystery; however, our priest visits with and prays with anyone who wishes to talk about spiritual matters or personal issues.
This is the Church’s Healing Service. It is offered for the entire parish community once each year during Holy Week, but, in the case of a life-threatening illness, it can also be offered at other times, for a specific person. For other medical issues, prayer with the anointing of oil is available. Only Orthodox Christians can participate in the Service of Holy Unction, but the clergy can offer prayer with the anointing of oil for anyone who desires it.
We only schedule weddings after one of the engaged couple has been a member of our parish community for at least twelve months; for further guidelines concerning marriage please click on this link: Guidelines for a Wedding Service at St John’s Orthodox Church. Anniversary Blessings are offered at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy; at least one of the participants in an Anniversary Blessing must be an Orthodox Christian and a member in good standing of our parish community.
The Funeral Service can only be offered for Orthodox Christians who will be buried; the service cannot be offered for people who are cremated. We offer Memorial Services at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy; that service is also available only for Orthodox Christians. For Christians who are not Orthodox, we offer the Akathist for the Departed; that service can be scheduled at just about any time in consultation with our parish priest.