Holy Wednesday Evening
The Sacrament of Holy Unction
Offered on Holy Wednesday and at other times upon request.
The Sacrament of Holy Unction is a sacrament of faith (James 5:14-15). It is meant for any sick person and is always celebrated in the hope that it will bring healing. While this certainly is the desired effect, it is not the indispensable condition of the Sacrament. The essential purpose of the sacrament is to allow the person to share in the victory of Christ and to raise him into the realm of God's Kingdom. It communicates spiritual power so that the trials of sickness may be borne with courage, hope and fortitude.
The solemn celebration of the Holy Unction on Great Wednesday serves to remind us of Christ's power to forgive and liberate the conscience of personal and collective sin. Thus, it helps emphasize the glorious expectation of Pascha: the resurrection, redemption and sanctification of all life. In addition, it helps us to realize how fragile human life really is and how dependent we are on God; if our life is to have any true meaning.
The Order of the Service
1. Introductory Prayers and Psalms 143 & 51
In these Psalms we confess our sinfulness before God and ask Him to cleanse us and make a "new and right spirit within us." (Psalm 51:10)
2. Canon. In this series of verses that are read or sung, we ask God to show mercy upon us and cleanse our souls, to drive away all evil powers, to grant salvation to those who are sick or suffering, and to grant us the healing of our souls and bodies. At the end of several sets of verses, we ask God to renew our lives so that we may bless, thank and glorify Him forever.
3. Short Prayers or Troparia to the Saints. We pray to the Saints especially those who have helped the sick and suffering, and to those who have been martyred for the glory of God and to the Mother of God to intercede for us for the salvation of our souls.
4. Epistle and Gospel Lessons and Prayers. There are seven sets of Epistle and Gospel readings and prayers:
At the conclusion of the service the open Gospel book, which contains the accounts of Jesus' many miracles, is laid with the printed pages down upon the heads of those who are ill. By doing so it is hoped that they will also receive physical and spiritual healing and that the faith in the written word of our Lord will be strengthened in the minds of those present. Just as Christ laid His hand upon the sick when He performed His many miracles, the priest lays his hand upon the Gospel which rests on the heads of the faithful.
Each of the seven prayers asks for the remission of our sins, for the healing of our souls and bodies and for life everlasting.
Rev. Father Peter J. Orfanakos, Parish Priest
Phone: (203) 795-1347 | E-mail: | 480 Racebrook Road - Orange, Connecticut 06477
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