Who should be anointed with Holy Myron? Can a non-orthodox receive Orthodox Sacraments? Do the Orthodox have Eucharistic Communion with the non-orthodox?
It was in 1974. This writer was a very young priest in charge of a mission parish in Chicago, which he founded for the Indian Syrians. In one of the parish committee meetings, one member accused him for not conducting a marriage between an Orthodox young woman and a Protestant (Church of South India) young man, who had desired to have the wedding according to rite of the Orthodox Church to please his bride. Most of the members of the Committee did not understand the theological ramifications of the decision of this writer not to bless that marriage.
The bridegroom, who was a Protestant, requested this writer to bless his marriage in the Orthodox Church, and he had no objection to go through any Orthodox rites for that purpose. He told this writer to anoint him with Holy Myron, not because he had had any understanding of what Holy Myron was, or because he had desired to convert to Orthodoxy. He just wanted his marriage in the Orthodox Church to please his bride. This writer asked him if he had the intention to continue his life in the Orthodox Church; and he said emphatically that he would not be converted to Orthodoxy. And this writer told him that he could not anoint him with Holy Myron with insincere intentions. The marriage did not take place in the Orthodox Church; an Evangelical Pastor witnessed their marital vows. Within a year, it was reported this couple became members of a Pentecostal Assembly!
These are the questions arising from this incident: Who is anointed with Holy Myron? What should be the intention behind receiving the unction of Holy Myron? What is Holy Myron?
Let me answer the last question first without any sophisticated theological jargons. Holy Myron is a sacrament of Christian initiation received along with Baptism. The sacramental liturgy of Holy Myron says that it is the fragrance of Christ, sign and seal of true faith, and the PLENITUDE OF THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. The entire Orthodox theology of Holy Myron is encapsuled in these words of anointing. Any convert from heretical groups is accepted into the Church with the unction of Holy Myron. The Orthodox Church accepts only the sacrament of baptism of Protestants or other groups, if they retain the right intention and form of baptism. (For example, baptisms performed by sects such as Baptists, Pentecostals, and the like are not accepted as valid, because their intentions are defective, and converts from such churches are to be baptized again before they are chrismated). Converts from any Christian sects that do not have a valid priesthood and do not have Holy Myron (Chrism) as a sacrament are to be chrismated before they are accepted into Holy Orthodoxy. It should be clearly understood that without a valid apostolic succession of the priesthood there is no imparting of sacramental grace beyond baptism, hence even if a heretical group talks about Holy Chrism, their rite of confirmation (as they call it) is null and void; it does not generate grace.
Any person, who is about to receive this plenitude of the gift of Holy Spirit through Holy Myron, should already have the genuine desire to convert to Orthodoxy. If Holy Myron is used to anoint anyone who does not have the proper spiritual preparation to be received into the Church, or who does not have the desire to convert, that rite is a desecration of the sacrament, and it is sacrilegious. In other words, any act of chrismation that does not have the genuine intention of bringing someone to the Holy Church is sacrilegious. If the celebrant is morally certain that a person who is about to receive Holy Myron is doing it with ulterior motives, the sacrament of Chrismation should not be administered (it is based on this principle that this writer denied the chrismation and marriage of the person mentioned earlier). Many priests are pressured into such situations in order to please people and to move smoothly without criticism; but they should always remind themselves that they are the custodians of faith and preservers of the mysteries of God, and their primary task is not to be politically correct.
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