Ministry to the Sick

In his Epistle, the Holy Apostle James teaches us that, when someone among us is sick, the faithful should call for the elders (i.e., presbyters) of the Church so that they may pray over the sick and anoint them with oil in the Name of the Lord. Just as in the story of the four faithful friends who lowered the paralytic to our Lord Jesus Christ through the roof (cf. Mk 2:1-12, Lk 5:17-39), it is the faithful prayers of the whole Church that grants healing, which is accompanied by forgiveness of sins, because spiritual health is often connected with physical health.

One of the seven major Mysteries (commonly, but erroneously, referred to as “sacraments”) in the Coptic Orthodox Church is the Mystery of Anointing the Sick, which is also known the Mystery of the Lamps, because seven lamps were lit by the early Christians and the sanctified oil therefrom was used to anoint the sick for healing. Today, the oil is poured in a plate and seven threads are dipped in it. The number seven signifies the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the Church (Is 61:1-3).

When someone is sick, it is important that this Mystery be celebrated along with two other Mysteries: the Mystery of Repentance/Confession (for the forgiveness of sins) and the Mystery of the Eucharist (for communion with God and a pledge of eternal life).

Remember O Lord those of Thy people that are sick, to visit them in mercies; and in compassion make them whole.

Prayer of Consolation from the Divine ΕΥΧΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ of St. Gregory the Theologian

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