UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Holy Unction Service in Penn-Ohio Deanery!
On the afternoon or evening of Great and Holy Wednesday, the Mystery of Holy Unction is conducted in many Orthodox parishes.
The foundation of the Holy Mystery of Unction is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. In the Book of James 5:14-16 we read; “If any among you sick, let him call for the presbyters 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 man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
The words “Anointing” and “healing” are mentioned over 150 times, in the New Testament. As we can see the act of “Anointing with oil” is quite common throughout the Holy Scriptures. We can receive the same grace and healing given by God through His Apostles by being anointed by Priest and/or Bishop.
This Holy Mystery is offered for the healing of soul and body and for forgiveness of sins. At the conclusion of the service of the Sacrament, the body is anointed with oil, and the grace of God, which heals infirmities of soul and body, is called down upon each person. The Sacrament is performed by a gathering of priests, ideally seven in number, however, it can be performed by a lesser number and even by a single priest.
This year, the clergy of Penn-Ohio Deanery of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, along with their spiritual father and hierarch His Grace Bishop Daniel, gathered for this Holy Mystery at Holy Wonderworker Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox pro-Cathedral in Lakewood, OH. At about 6:30PM, the parish church temple was filled with parishioners and visitors to the parish family to take part in the Holy Unction Mystery.
His Grace Bishop Daniel addressed the faithful of the Church with his remarks at the conclusion of the service, teaching the faithful about the spiritual meaning of this sacred service.
The bishop stated: “The express purpose of the Sacrament of Holy Unction is healing and forgiveness. Since it is not always the will of God that there should be physical healing, the prayer of Christ that God's will be done always remains as the proper context of the Sacrament. In addition, it is the clear intention of the Sacrament that through the anointing of the sick body the sufferings of the person should be sanctified and united to the sufferings of Christ. In this way, the wounds of the flesh are consecrated, and strength is given that the suffering of the diseased person may not be unto the death of his soul, but for eternal salvation in the resurrection and life of the Kingdom of God… In the Orthodox Church, healing of the soul ranks higher than the healing of the body. In fact, the healing of the body is offered as a sign of His mercy and blessing to the person experiencing God's healing and to inspire others to do His will... Sometimes the emphasis on spiritual healing is taken to mean that attempts at physical healing should be minimized. This is a grave misconception. In the Orthodox moral tradition both spiritual and physical healing should be brought to God.
The foundation of this misconception rests in ideas that faith somehow stands in opposition to science. It doesn't. God is the source of both faith and science and in the end no final conflict exists between the two… Christ came to the world to "bear our infirmities." One of the signs of His Divine Ministry was to heal the sick. The power of healing remains in the Church since Christ himself remains in the Church through the Holy Spirit.”
As the service neared the conclusion, the bishop, assisted by the clergy, holding the Holy Gospel over the faithful gathered in the parish temple, recited the prayer of Anointing for the healing of soul and body. Following the dismissal, the faithful approached the bishop and the clergy (Very Rev. John Harvey – Dean and pastor of Sts Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Youngstown, OH; Very Rev. Dennis Kristof – pastor of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox pro-Cathedral in Lakewood, OH; Very Rev. John Nakonachny – pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH; Very Rev. Andrew Gall – pastor of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Sharon, PA; Very Rev. Michael Hontaruk of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH; Rev. Paisius McGrath– pastor of Sts Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Lyndora, PA; Ihumen John Henry, Very Rev. Dmitri Belenki and Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH) for anointing, while the parishioners of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox pro-Cathedral in Lakewood, OH and visitors chanted Lenten sacred hymns.
Prior to the Prayer Service of Holy Unction, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, His Grace Bishop Daniel visited with a few parishioners of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH, who gathered for a short prayer service for the infirm and homebound parishioners of the cathedral parish family. A special prayer petition was proclaimed for the suffering brothers and sisters of Ukrainian nation that continue to live under a threat of a war conflict.
Photos by Subdeacon Adrian Mazur