October 2010 Letter
Dear brethren, We celebrated on September 16 the reception of our beloved Father Luke Istafanous, who began his service in our church, that witnessed him as a deacon, a Sunday School servant, and a servant of family meetings. We ask the Lord to bless his priesthood and enjoy the fruit of his service; thirty, sixty and a hundred folds.
We take this opportunity to point out that the priesthood is one of the seven sacraments of the Church, which is believed by both families of the Orthodox Church, as well as the Catholic Church. They were founded by Christ himself and handed to His disciples to practice them, and hand over to the churches they established. Below are few of many verses that confirm the establishment of these sacraments from the Bible:
1) Baptism: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3: 5) and “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28: 19).
2) Chrism: in order to receive the Holy Spirit, was originally practiced by laying of hands of the apostles “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8: 17), and later by anointment “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” (1Jn 2: 20).
3) Eucharist: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed 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 them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant” (Mt 26: 26-28).
4) Repentance and confession: “So Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you … If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20: 21-23).
5) Anointment 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. And the prayer of faith will save the sick …” (Jam 5: 14-15).
6) Matrimony: “…He who made them at the beginning `made them male and female,’. and 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’?” (Mt 19: 4-5).
7) Priesthood: chapter 10 of the gospel according to St. Mathew mentions the calling of the 12 disciples and their ministry, then the Lord tells them “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Mt 10: 40).
God willing in a later letter we’ll discuss the sayings of the church fathers about these sacraments and how they exerted in the early church since the beginning of the Christian era.
Asking you to keep the church, its priest, servants and all services, in your prayers. May the blessing of Saint Mary, and St. Mercurius Abou Sefein and all the saints be with us all.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, October 1, 2010