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The Seven Sacraments

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The Seven Sacraments in the Coptic Orthodox Church are crucial aspects of the faithful's spiritual life, underlining important milestones and engagements with God's grace.
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Baptism, a revered sacrament in the Christian faith, symbolizes a spiritual rebirth through triple immersion in water, performed in the name of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Ranked foremost among the seven holy sacraments, baptism serves as the threshold to church membership, enabling believers to participate in the remaining sacraments.

The foundation of baptism originates from Jesus Christ himself. He established this sacrament through his own baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, when the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove. He further confirmed its significance post-resurrection, instructing his disciples: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). Additionally, he emphasized its importance in Mark 16:16: "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

Viewed as a redemptive sacrament, baptism is seen as a prerequisite for salvation and the gateway to eternal life. This belief stems from Jesus' words in John 3: "Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God."

Baptism is one of the four sacraments of redemption - the others being Myron (chrismation), Confession, and the Eucharist, which involves partaking in the holy body and the precious blood of Christ. Baptism signifies the believer's spiritual birth from water and the Spirit, a second birth following their physical birth from their parents.

Sunday, particularly before Mass, is often considered the optimal time for baptism. This tradition aligns with the priest's fast and commemorates the concept of death and resurrection associated with baptism, aligning with Sunday's celebration of the Lord's Resurrection. Administering baptism before Mass also allows the newly baptized individual and their family to partake in the Mass and receive the holy sacraments.
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Chrismation (Confirmation)

The Sacrament of Myron, also known as the Holy Anointment or the Sacrament of Confirmation, is a holy Sacrament with which we receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. The word ‘Myron’ is a Greek word which means ‘ointment’ or ‘fragrant perfume’.

The baptized person receives it immediately after Baptism so as to become a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit aids him to grow in his spiritual life. Although it is received directly after Baptism, it is an independent Sacrament, and the priests have to be very careful to grant it accurately to the baptized, anointing them with 36 crosses.

The Lord Jesus instituted it when He said: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom these believing in Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39).

The Baptized is anointed with 36 signs on his joints and senses so that the Holy Spirit can dwell within them. His body and soul become a temple of the Holy Spirit. By this anointment, God grants the grace of confirmation to the baptized as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Anointing the external organs with the Myron oil denotes anointing the power of the internal soul and its spiritual senses by the power of God to fight the hosts of evil and its power. This is because Myron is the most powerful weapon against the devil and the best protection against sin and its seduction.

Our fathers, the apostles, granted this Sacrament by the laying of their hands after Baptism, as we read in the Book of Acts when St. Peter and St. John laid hands on the people of Samaria who were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and so received the Holy Spirit, (Acts 9:2-6).

As the laying of hands for the dwelling of the Holy Spirit is a specific rite of the fathers, the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops, and as the regions of mission increased, consequently, the number of believers and those who entered faith increased. It was impossible for the Apostles to wander through all the countries and cities to lay hands on the baptized, so they established anointment by Myron as an alternative for laying on the hands for the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.
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Holy Eucharist

Known as:
  • Sacrament of Holy Communion
  • Sacrament of Thanksgiving
  • The Lord’s Supper
  • The Mysterious Supper
  • Sacrament of Community

The Meaning of the Eucharist

The Sacrament of Communion is a Holy Sacrament by which the believer eats the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, presented by the Bread and Wine. This Sacrament has the greatest importance among the Seven Church Sacraments. It is sometimes called the ‘Mystery of Mysteries’ or the ‘Crown of Sacraments’; for all the Sacraments are crowned by the Eucharist :
  • The person baptized must receive Communion directly after Baptism.
  • The repentant person must receive Communion after having confessed.
The person who marries must receive Communion after the wedding (which must take place between the Matins and Holy Mass), according to the original Rite of Matrimony. Also, whoever is ordained with any priestly rank must receive Communion following the Holy Mass of his ordination.

Its Institution

The Lord Jesus instituted the holy Eucharist on Covenant Thursday, in the Upper Room of Zion, shortly before His arrest and trial. After He celebrated the Rite of Passover of the Jews, He rose and washed His disciples' feet as a sign of repentance and preparation, then sat down and instituted the Passover of the New Covenant, the Sacrament of Holy Communion. “He took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat, this is My Body’, then He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to His disciples saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is My Blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’” (Matthew 26:26-28), and our teacher St Paul repeats the same words in 1 Corinthians (11:23-25).

The Sacrament of Holy Communion has many benefits, such as :
  • Abiding in Christ according to His precious promise: “He who eats My Flesh, and drinks My Blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56). By receiving this Sacrament, we become members of His Body, of His Flesh and of His Bones (Ephesians 5:30), and we also become partakers of the Divine Nature, (2 Peter 1:4).
  • It gives us the promise of eternal life: “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  He who eats this Bread will live forever” (John 6:54,58).
  • It provides growth in the Spirit and spiritual perfection and life in Jesus Christ, for He said: “For My Flesh is food indeed and My Blood is drink indeed.   As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” (John 6:55,57).
  • As food develops the body and keeps it healthy, so too the spiritual food, which is the Holy Body and Blood of Christ, strengthens the soul so that it may grow continually in grace.
  • It provides the remedy to the soul, body and spirit, as the Offertory Mystery says: “That they (Holy Body and Precious Blood) may become to us all for participation and healing and salvation for our souls, bodies and our spirits”.
  • Partaking Communion without worthiness causes weakness, sickness and death, for as St Paul said: “For this reason, many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep” (1 Corinthians 11:30).
  • Communion received worthily and with preparation results in health and strength for our bodies and souls. Our holy church fathers called Communion ‘the remedy for the death of sin’.
  • Communion results in our salvation and remission of sins, as mentioned in the final ‘Confession’ in the liturgy: “Given for our salvation, remission of sins and eternal life to those who partake of Him”.
By repentance and Confession before the priest, we are granted the remission of the sins we have confessed, but in Communion, we are granted remission of sins that we are unaware of, including the sins of lust that we are not conscious of. Communion is the washing and cleaning of the repentant’s heart from all sins, as we read in the Book of Revelation about those redeemed and saved who are “The ones who come out of the great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).

Communion gives a person immunity against sin. Material food gives him health and immunity against bacteria and viruses that attack him. Likewise, partaking of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ gives the spirit immunity and inaccessibility against the viruses of sins, Satanic warfare and bodily lusts, so the person lives in victory in his spiritual struggle. The Psalmist says: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). This verse was a prophecy about the Table of Communion and its benefits for victory against our enemies.
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Repentance and confession

The Sacrament of Repentance and Confession is a holy sacrament by which the sinner returns to God, confessing his sins before the priest to be absolved by the priest through the authority granted to him by God. By this absolution, the confessing person is granted the forgiveness of the sins he confessed.

Confession means admitting and declaring a certain matter. The Sacrament of Confession means verbal confession before the priest of sins and mistakes committed by a person and confessing and humbly repenting in order to be granted absolution and forgiveness.

Instituting the Sacrament of Confession

Our Lord Jesus Christ founded the Sacrament of Repentance and Confession when He said to His disciples, the pure apostles: “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).

Also, after the Resurrection, the Lord said: “‘As the Father sent me, I also send you.’ And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:21-23).

By this, He gave them the authority of binding sins or losing them through the authority given to them by the Holy Spirit and according to the contriteness of the confessing person.

Conditions of Repentance

True repentance has five conditions:
  • Contrite heart and remorse for previous sins.
  • Steadfast intention to improve.
  • Strong faith in Christ and hope in His love to forgive.
  • Verbal confession of sins before the priest.
  • Right Age for Confession
Parents must teach their children about the Sacrament of Confession from an early age, about twelve years old, so they may be acquainted from childhood with the Sacrament, for as the proverb says: “Teaching in childhood is like engraving on rocks”.
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Unction of the sick

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:13)
The Sacrament of the Unction of the Sick is one of the holy Seven Sacraments of the church, through which the sick, who are faithful, are healed from psychological and physical diseases. The priest anoints the person with the holy oil from which they obtain the grace of remedy from God.

It is called the ‘Sacrament of Lamps’, for the early Christians used to place oil in a lamp, from which hung seven other lamps. Each lamp was lit at the beginning of every prayer. This rite still exists. However, the seven lamps were replaced by seven wicks made from cotton wool, which sit in a plate of oil. The number seven signifies the seven spirits of God, which are mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 3:1). The Spirit of God dwells and sanctifies the oil in order to heal those anointed by it. It is advisable that the wicks be placed in the sign of the cross, in the plate of oil.

Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted this Sacrament when He said to His disciples: “Heal the sick, cleanse the leper” (Matthew 10:8), and, “Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, heal the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Luke 10: 8-9). For the Lord Jesus came that we may have life and that we have it more abundantly (John 10:10), so He healed the sick, raised the invalid, opened the eyes of the blind, purified the lepers and the lame, after having saved them and forgiven them their main cause of sickness, which is sin. “Jesus went about doing good and healing all those who the devil oppressed” (Acts 1:38), as Malachi prophesied about Him saying, “But to you who fear My Name, the Son of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2). Our fathers the Apostles practised it according to the orders of their Master, as the Bible says, “So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them” (Mark 6:12,13).

Our teacher St. James advised the believers to practice this Sacrament when they are sick and to ask for healing from God, who says, “I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15: 26). Also, David the Psalmist thanks God for saying, “Bless the Lord, O my soul….Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction” (Psalm 103: 1-4), and, “O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You have healed me” (Psalm 29:20), and also the prayer of Jeremiah the prophet: “Heal me O Lord, and I shall be healed” (Jeremiah 17:4). For this reason, St. James advises us, “Is anyone among you is sick, let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:13,14).
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Matrimony is a holy sacrament, officiated by a priest, of uniting a man to a woman. Through this holy sacrament, the man and woman become one, for as the Lord Jesus said, "For this reason, a man shall leave his Father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, let not man separate what God has joined together" (Matthew 19:5,6).

St. Paul expressed the sanctity of the Sacrament of Christian Matrimony, saying, "This is a great mystery" (Ephesians 5:32) and, "Marriage is honourable among all and the bed undefiled" (Hebrews 13:4).


  • Cooperation between men and women
  • Procreation
  • Protection against adultery and fornication

Cooperation between men and women

The Lord God said: "It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him" (Genesis 2:18), and "Woman was created for the man" (Corinthians 11:9).
'Comparable to him' means similar to and equal to him, helping and supporting him.


To preserve humankind from extinction. Bearing children makes the couple rejoice, fills the house with joy and strengthens the marital relationship. David says in the Psalm, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is His reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them" (Psalm 127:3-5), and, "Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, in the very heart of your house, behold thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord" (Psalm 128:3-6).

Children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward, but if the Lord God has not given children to a married couple, they should not grieve but say, 'Let it be Your will Lord', in complete surrender to Him. Christianity does not make reproduction the main aim of marriage, but the second aim after the cooperation between the married couple.

The church does not permit divorce when one of the partners is barren but advises them to continue together without destroying their happiness over a matter that is unnecessary.

Immunity against Adultery and Fornication:

St. Paul mentioned: "It is good for a man not to touch a woman, not to marry. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his wife, and let each woman has her husband … For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (1 Corinthians 7). Marriage is the remedy for human weakness, keeping oneself virtuous and preventing sexual immorality, which God detests.

Christian Marriage elevates the bodily union to become a spiritual union through the Holy Spirit, just as the Holy Spirit works in the Baptismal water to make humans a new creation and works through the Sacrament of Confirmation to ordain a person to become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Through prayers and faith, the Holy Spirit also works in the couple during the marital ceremony to unite them in the Lord. The two partners become one through the commitments made by the bride and groom in fulfilling the commandments of marriage and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian marriage is distinguished by specific characteristics, some of which are:


Christianity believes and insists on the law of monogamy, for in the beginning, God created male and female; one Adam and one Eve. Through Matrimony, the two become one in Christ. Hence, they are no longer two but one body.


The purpose of Matrimony is continuance, without divorce, except in the case of adultery. This is because a strange person has entered and corrupted the holy unity of Matrimony and profaned its holiness. However, if the person who sinned repented, and the partner forgave them, then the church permits the continuation of the marriage.

The second situation in which divorce may occur is due to the spiritual immorality or denial of faith and abandonment of Christianity by one of the partners. The matter of annulment of Matrimony is authorized by the church when a partner has deceived or cheated the other, and even issues regarding sexual impotence.

Bearing fruits

Through the Holy Spirit, the Christian family bears many fruits…
Christian virtues in the life of its members
When the Lord grants blessed children, the family must bring them up in fear of God and the church.

Service and good deeds that glorify our Father in heaven. They should deal with all people in true Christian love, living a life of service and self-sacrificing. Hence, the many fruits that a Christian family bears are not only children but love, virtues, and service.

The Sacrament of Matrimony should take place in the church, for it is the house of God and the house of angels. Before the altar, the groom receives his bride, committing himself while standing before the altar to love her like himself and treat her as an equal, not any less, and she also promises to obey him, as Sarah did with Abraham.

It is not permitted that the Sacrament of Matrimony take place in houses, except in the situation of persecution, where the lives of the bride and groom are at risk during the processions. It is also necessary that the houses be big enough for such an occasion.

It is also not permitted that the sacrament of Matrimony take place during seasons of fasting or times just before fasting begins, for it would not be possible for the newly married couple to abide by the commandment of fasting, both from a food and marital relation perspective.

The Matrimonial Rite is performed for virgin couples. However, if one of the partners is widowed, for example, there is another prayer called 'The Prayer of Forgiveness.

After marriage, the couple should have one confession father who will care for them and help them with their problems, with a fatherly spirit.

The Coptic Church believes strongly in the principle of one wife and adopts its principle from the holy Gospels, which constantly alludes to man having only one wife: "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her" (Mark 10:11), and as our teacher St. Paul says, "For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and rejoined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Ephesians 5:31).ion (Revelation 3:1). The Spirit of God dwells and sanctifies the oil to heal those anointed by it. The wicks should be placed in the sign of the cross in the plate of oil.
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The Sacrament of Priesthood is a holy sacrament through which the bishop lays his hands on the head of the elected candidate, so that the Holy Spirit will descend on him and grant him one of the priestly ranks. He is then given the authority to officiate the Sacraments of the church, doctrines, and others.

The word ‘priest’ is designated for a clergyman who spiritually serves people and their needs. The Jewish people referred to the person who offered sacrifices and oblations as a priest. In Christianity, the priest is a member of the priesthood who performs religious rites. The word ‘priest’ is derived from the Hebrew word ‘Kohen’, meaning priest.

The word ogHb (Ooab) in Coptic, meaning ‘priest’, is derived from the Coptic word eqogab (ethoab), meaning saintly or righteous. Hence ‘Ooab’ is given to the priest to signify that he is a righteous man, adorned by holiness and purity.

In Greek, the priesthood is called IeraTIoN (Eration), and the word for priest is eregV (Ereis), meaning minister (of the Sacraments and the congregation)

It is also known in Greek as the “Laying on of hands”, in Syrian as “Ordination”, and in Arabic as “Anointment”, signifying the granting of the seal of the Holy Spirit on the consecrated person.