Unification - what is it? How does the unction proceed?
Among the seven sacraments performed by the Russian Orthodox Church, there is one that often evokes completely wrong interpretations and is associated with a number of prejudices. It is called the unction. What is this and what is being accomplished, we will try to find out by referring to its history and having considered the order of the rite. It is with him that we begin the story.
What is an unction and how is it performed?
The sacrament can be performed both in the church over a large number of parishioners, and at home, over a single person who, due to health reasons, is unable to leave. The order of the sequel prescribes the participation of seven priests in it, but in the event that there are fewer, even one, the sacrament of the Unction is considered valid. Practice shows that even in urban environments it is very rarely possible to collect a large number of priests.
As the unification passes, the rite of this sacrament itself indicates in detail.Before it begins, preparatory prayers and a canon are recited. Behind this - excerpts from the New Testament. Next comes Lektenia. During her reading, the deacon utters aloud the names of all on whom the sacrament is performed. After the litany, the rite of consecration of the oil (oil) and the anointing is performed. At this time, the priest says a special ancient prayer, read only in these cases. At the end of the prayer, he lays the gospel on the heads of those present and reads the closing prayer.
When one priest finishes his actions, another comes to replace him, the whole cycle repeats again. The consecration of the sacrament prescribes its sevenfold repetition, which requires the participation of seven priests, but, as mentioned above, fewer of them are allowed.
Historical information about the sacrament
By its roots, an unction, or, as it is otherwise called, anointing, takes place in biblical times. To see this, it is enough to open the Gospel of Mark. It describes how Christ sends the holy apostles to preach the coming of the Kingdom of God, to call all to repentance and to heal bodily and mental ills.
To this end, His disciples anointed the afflicted with oil, that is, with oil. Their similar actions, which received blessings from Jesus Christ Himself, are a prototype of the present sacrament, which we call the Council. That this is so, there is not the slightest doubt. In addition, the holy Apostle Jacob mentions anointing with oil. He writes about the need to perform this action in case of illness of any of the brethren. According to him, by the grace of God, the one who suffers is healed at the same time from illness and absolution.
Unification - the path to healing the soul and body
The two New Testament episodes cited irrefutably testify to the erroneousness of the widespread opinion regarding the unction - that this sacrament is performed exclusively over the dying and is like a farewell to another world. The apostles performed it for healing, and the apostle James, in his epistle, recommends performing it in order to save him from his illness. Therefore, there is no reason to mix it with any death rituals.
The fallacy of this understanding is explained by the fact that in the medieval western church this sacrament was really parting words for the dying and was called “the last anointing.”In the XV-XVII centuries, it migrated to us in Russia and was established here in a similar status. But already in the middle of the XIX century, the Moscow Metropolitan Filaret took the most decisive actions in order to give it exactly the value that it has now.
Death Harbor What is it and what is happening
The holy church, however, emphasizes the need for an unction for people dying. This is an absolutely necessary action for them, because often in such a state a person cannot physically confess and cleanse his soul before entering another world. In this case, the unction allows you to do this even without the conscious participation of the dying person. But even if he is conscious, he needs to confess, take communion, and gather. The unction of the dying person is just the case when it is performed not in the temple, but at home or in the hospital.
The futility of the sacrament without sincere faith
It is necessary to dwell on one more important delusion, which many adhere to, over whom the worship is performed for the first time. That this sacrament has a beneficial effect on human health, they know, perhaps, everything.But many, unfortunately, perceive it as a kind of magic action, the result of which depends solely on correctly performed ritual actions. This is a deeply erroneous opinion.
The oil with which the anointing is performed is not a cure for all diseases, and it is not the healing that brings healing, but the all-merciful Lord. Our prayers are addressed to him, and in His power to bestow healing. That is to become worthy of this mercy of God is truly in our power. For this and sacraments granted. They help us cleanse our sins with the help of the grace of God. Diseases - this is their offspring. Therefore, to heal the body, one must first purify the soul and repent of sins.
The difference between absolution and confession
However, for this purpose, believers regularly confess. Then, what task does the unction do in this connection? What is it, a form of in-depth repentance or something else? No, it's different. During confession, we receive absolution for the sins that we have been named. But after all, in everyday life, we constantly, voluntarily or not voluntarily, break God's commandments and often, going to confession, we cannot remember most of them.
Even if we write down our sins, then even then it will hardly be possible to name them in full, because sometimes we sin without even realizing it. It is in order to be cleansed from all sins, whether conscious or not, named during confession or forgotten, and the sacrament of unction is given to us. The anointing with consecrated oil brings the healing of sin to our souls.
Sincerity of repentance is a condition of absolution
It would be a mistake to believe that, by cleansing us from all transgressions, congregation thereby makes it possible with impunity to transgress God's commandments. To think: “Today I will sin, but at the Holy Understanding everything will be forgiven,” is the greatest frivolity. Sins are released only under the condition of sincere repentance, but in this case it cannot be.
Preparation for the sacrament
There are a few more questions often arising from those who decided to go through the unction. For example, do you need to fast in front of him or can you not limit yourself to food? The answer is absolutely clear: no, you do not need to fast. The only sacrament that is performed on an empty stomach is the Communion of the Holy Gifts. In addition, we need strength to withstand the two hours during which the unction takes place.
How to prepare for it, what to bring to church with you, also sometimes raises questions. It is usually recommended to confess and take communion before the unction, but if this is not done, it does not matter, you can do it later. During the meeting, it is customary to hold lighted candles in your hands, but you can buy them in a candle shop and you don’t need to bring them with you. But the text of the rite to carry with them is highly recommended, since in this case it is possible to understand the meaning of the prayers read deeper and more thoroughly.
Finding out what is a church and how it is conducted, the following should be added to the conclusion. Very often there is a situation when a person who wants to take part in it, for one reason or another, does not have time to start the sacrament. As stated above, it consists of seven repeating cycles. If he was late and came to the second or third, would such a meeting be valid for him? This question is always given an unequivocal answer: yes, there will be. Even if the latecomer received only one anointing, it is considered sufficient. However, it is always recommended to arrive on time.