Friday, May 9, 2014

The Mysteries of the Church

In English the preferred word used for the mysteries of the Orthodox Church is sacraments. However, the Greeks –who speak English - follow the Greek tradition, using thus the word mystery (Μυστήριο). St. John Chrysostom explains why the Divine Eucharist is called mystery, ‘because what we believe is not the same as what we see, but we see one thing and believe another . . .  When I hear the Body of Christ mentioned, I understand what is said in one sense, the unbeliever in another.’[1] We understand that there are two characteristics: we have the visible and invisible aspect. For example during the Divine Liturgy we receive the Body and Blood of Christ (this is an inward, spiritual understanding) whilst observing that we are receiving bread and wine (which is the outward and visible sign of the action). 

[1] Homilies on I Corinthians, vii, I (PG. lxi, 55).

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