The Maronite church along with other Eastern churches use the term mysteries to describe the sacred rites by which the Church perpetuates the saving action of Christ on earth. The Western church uses the term sacrament. In the Eastern churches, mystery generally refers to the realm of the holy and to God's plan of salvation. The Syriac/Maronite world, observed by the senses, was only the surface of the real. With the eyes of faith we are able to appreciate the real presence of God in creation.
The seven Holy Mysteries are; Baptism, Chrismation (or ‘Confirmation’) and the Eucharist, which make up the the three Mysteries of Initiation; Penance (‘Reconciliation’ or ‘Confession’) and Sacrament of the Sick, are the Mysteries of Healing; and Crowning (or ‘Marriage’) and Holy Orders, make up the Mysteries of Vocation or Community.
As Maronite Catholics, we believe Christ's presence in creation did not end with His death. His resurrection confirms His presence among us in power. Christ is present in His disciples and all those who form His Mystical Body. By being united to Christ, the "image of God" which each one of us possesses by our creation reaches fulfillment.
The process of being united to Christ is achieved through the "mysteries". In other words, Christ not only performed acts of divine power during His public life, but He continues His divinizing power in the mysteries that He instituted. Just as Christ used earthly things and gestures as instruments of divine power, so He provided that through the invoking of the Holy Spirit by the Church on water and oil and bread and wine we would have the means of sanctification.
Therefore, Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist and the other sacred rites are called mysteries because they introduce us to the world of the holy which is incarnated in our visible world. They enable us with the eyes of faith to realize that "God is with us" and that His Spirit is available to us.
Our Divine Liturgy teaches us that during the service of the Eucharist, our earthly celebration mirrors the angelic liturgy in heaven. In other words, during the course of the Anaphora we are brought into sacred time and sacred space, the realm of mysteries. In the same way, when we celebrate baptism, chrismation and the other mysteries, we also enter the world of sacred time and space and partake of holy things.
Baptism is the first of the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church to be received. It opens the doors to the Christian Faith and to the other Mysteries (Sacraments).
As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion.
Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church.
Seeing that a Marriage is a celebration of a Sacrament, the Church prescribes that it is to be celebrated in a sacred place, that is, in the parish church.
Every human being has a vocation from God, since each of us plays an essential part in God’s plan.
It is the responsibility of the faithful to notify the pastor of an illness of a parishioner.
Saint Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church
14 Reeve St, Somerset, NJ 08873, US
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