In common with all Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox
churches, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church professes belief in the seven sacraments of baptism, confirmation, eucharist,
confession, the anointing of the sick, matrimony or holy orders. It regards the first four as being "necessary for every
believer". A church sacrament is a holy ordinance through which the believer receives an invisible grace under the form
of an outward sign, visible or audible. The Bible contains some instructions regarding every one of the seven sacraments.
The Divine Liturgy is the central worship service of the
Orthodox Church and the very heart of our church's life. It offers worshippers the proclamation of the Word of God in prayer,
hymns, Biblical readings and sermon.
The current practice
of the Orthodox Church is that only members of the Orthodox Church who are in good standing may approach to receive Holy Communion.
The Orthodox Church understands the Eucharist to be an action of the people of God that signifies a oneness of faith, worship
and life. Members of the Orthodox Church who wish to receive Holy Communion can obtain guidelines from the Head Priest of
the St. Mary Church.
The Church urges all Orthodox Christians to receive this Sacrament on a regular
basis. Confession is offered privately by appointment with any Orthodox priest who has been blessed to hear Confessions. The
priest then offers a prayer of forgiveness if there is sincere contrition and desire to turn away from sin and toward Christ.
All confessions are kept in strictest confidence. The Head Priest of St. Mary can provide members detailed information about
the Confession process.
anointing of the sick/Unction
Faithful members of the church are allowed
to take small amounts of Unction (Holy water) home with them to keep throughout the year. The consecration of holy water for
the healing of physical and spiritual sickness and sin. This service can be conducted at church or in homes as needed. The
clergy have reserved Unction for anointing the sick at any time. Holy Unction, like all sacraments, is exclusively reserved
for members of the Orthodox Church. Please call the Church Office if you need a priest to celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick.
For centuries, the prevailing practice in the Orthodox Church has been to baptize infants, although
older children and adults can also be baptized if they didn’t baptize for so many reasons. For those parents who wish
to have their children baptized, they are encouraged to plan a baptism, for girl when 80 days old and for boy when 40 days
old. Pre-baptismal instruction is required for parents and godparents. All dates should be coordinated well in advance through
the church office. Parents need to contact the Church Office to sign up for Baptism preparation.
It is important that the priest should be contacted before the wedding dates are planned. An initial meeting with
the priest and premarital counseling is required. The Church currently has no provision for blessing marriages between Orthodox
Christians and non-Christians (such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.). In the event that
a member of the Orthodox Church marries a non-Orthodox Christian who refuses to have their marriage blessed in the Orthodox
Church, or who marries a non-Christian, he or she should consult with a priest for spiritual counsel.
Immediately upon death the church can be contacted so that a priest may come and lead the family in prayer before
the body is removed. The clergy will also be available to help with all funeral arrangements, as well as a brief prayer service.
Memorial services are conducted as needed throughout the year, most commonly one year after
death. Always contact the church office in advance to arrange memorials. General memorial prayers are offered for all the
departed at the conclusion of a Divine Liturgy.
Liturgy and other religious services
of the Eritrean Church are celebrated in the Geez language, which has been the language of the Church for centuries. Sermons
are also delivered in the local languages. The clergy at St. Mary's use a mixture of Geez and Tigrinya. The choir sings in
Tigrinya. English language is also used in many occasions especially during the Bible study and other educational programs.