Vladyka Nikolai of Ochrid/Zica Part 1
- FAITH AND ORDER:
PROCEEDINGS OF THE WORLD CONFERENCE
Lausane, August 3-21, 1927
George H Dorin Company, New York, 1927
ed. H. N. Bate
THE SACRAMENTS / Saturday morning, August 13th
The Conference met in full session on Saturday morning to coonsider
Subject VI, The Sacraments. The chair was taken by Sir Henry Lunn,
and the session was opened at 9:30 with devotions led by General-
Superintendent Dr Schian.
The following paper, prepared by the Rt. Rev. Nicholai, Bishop of Ochrida,
was read in his absence by Archbishop Germanos.
THE RIGHT REV. NICHOLAI, Bishop of Ochrida (Orthodox)
There are seven Sacraments in the Church militant on earth: Baptism,
Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Ordination (Cheirotonia), Marriage
and Extreme Unction. In the East the Sacraments are still called
Mysteries. Why? Because each one of them hides in itself a mysterious
and miraculous action of God the Holy Spirit. The very kernel of each of
them consists of this mysterious and miraculous divine action. In the
Christian Mysteries we do not know HOW but we know THAT, i.e., we do
not know how the Holy Spirit works in a Mystery but we know that He
works in and through it.
In the Mystery of Baptism God the Holy Spirit cleanses the soul from sin,
so that the soul receives God's sonship by grace and is recruited into the
army of Christ the Saviour. Baptism effectuates such a tremendous change
in a man that is called the new birth (John iii, 5). Baptism was ordered by
Lord (Matt xxviii, 19). "Whosoever is unbaptised cannot be saved, except
the martyrs, who even without the water (but by the blood) receive the
Kingdom of God" (Cyril of Alexandria).
In the Mystery of Confirmation, God the Holy Spirit fills the soul
cleansed and emptied from sin by Baptism, with positive powers or gifts.
And the gifts are different. Confirmation was ordained and instituted
the practice of the Apostles (Acts viii, 15-17; xix, 1-6; 2 Cor i, 20-22).
In the Mystery of the Eucharist and at the moment of the priest's
God the Holy Spirit descends on the bread and wine which have been set
forth and sanctified, and transubstantiates them into Christ's body and
(not transforms them but transubstantiates them; for the substance is
changed while the form of bread and wine remain to our eyes unchanged).
This Mystery of the perpetual love of God through sacrifice was ordered and
instituted by the Lord (Matt xxvi, 26-28; John vi, 53-57; I Cor. x, 16-17;
xi, 23-26). So Christ Himself is our real food; He communicates Himself to
us, that He may make us true men, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,
the very members of His immortal body. So great is the love of God that
in this Mystery the Lord gives us not only His gifts, as in other
but Himself. Greater love than this does not exist either in heaven or on
In the Mystery of Pennance, or rather of Absolution, God the Holy Spirit
forgives man his new sins done after Baptism. Thereby the man becomes
again clean before his God. A sinner travels away from his God into a
foreign land and becomes a companion of swine, throwing his pearl - his
soul - to the swine. Sin being repented of, confessed and forgiven, man
gets the liberty to enter again the house of his Father. The parable of
Prodigal Son explains clearly the origin and nature of sin, of true
of confession and absolution (Luke xv, 11ff). The Lord Jesus ordered and
instituted this Mystery through His words and actions (Luke vii, 47; Matt
xviii, 18). The Apostles understood their Master and followed faithfully His
example and His commandment (I John i, 8-10; Acts iii, 19; xix, 18).
In the Mystery of the Ordination of priests, God the Holy Spirit gives the
special grace of Orders to the priest, the minister of the mysteries in
Kingdom of God on earth, i.e. in the Church militant. This grace He gives
through the act of the laying-on of the hands of the Apostles and their
successors upon the head of those who have been found worthy. In the
priestly performance of a Mystery man counts almost for nothing, but the
grace of God the Holy Spirit is all-important. The priest, therefore, is
allowed to say, "I baptise thee," or "I forgive thee," or "I unite you" in
marriage, etc.; for the real performer of a Mystery is the Lord the Holy
This Mystery was commanded and instituted by the Lord and His Apostles
(John xv, 16; Acts vi, 2-6; xx, 28; 2 Timothy i, 6).
In the Mystery of Marriage, God the Holy Spirit by His grace unites two
human beings, man and woman, for the special purpose of the growth
of the Church of God according to God's commandment (Gen ix,1) and for
the mutual help of husband and wife in the work of their salvation. This
Mystery was ratified by the Lord Jesus (Matt xix, 5-6). He Himself
sanctified the bond of marriage through His presence at the marriage in
Cana of Galilee (John ii, 1). The Apostle Paul, seer of the highest
declares to us that marriage is a great mystery (Eph v, 22 ff).
In the Mystery of Extreme Unction, God the Holy Spirit comes to man's
life in its last emergency and heals the sick. The purpose of the Mystery
thus performed is described by St James (v, 14-15) as the restoration
of health and the remission of sins. This Mystery was practised and ordered
by the Apostles from the very beginning (Mark vi, 13).
And thus we have seven divine Mysteries as the seven different workings of
God the Holy Spirit, who is the true Dispenser, the Lifegiver, the Mover
the Treasurer of all divine gifts in the Church of Christ on earth. Five
Mysteries are related rather to the personal life and personal salvation of
each member of the Church, namely, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharust,
Penance, and Unction; and two of them are related to the good of the whole
Church, namely, Orders and Marriage. The first five mean: emptying
filling (Confirmation), feeding (Eucharist), freeing (Penance) and healing
in the last emergency (Unction). The last two mean: the increase of the
Church (Marriage) and the ministration of the Mysteries in the Church under
the all-powerful God the Holy Spirit (Orders).