The Seven Sacraments

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church serves the faithful through the seven sacraments. These sacraments are called mysteries because the invisible grace of the Holy Spirit is granted through them. Taking the example of pillars as has been said in the Proverbs of Solomon as a starting point; our Church teaches that there are seven sacraments (Proverbs 9:1). Of the seven listed below, both a bishop and a priest can perform the six sacraments. But only a bishop confers ordination. 




Of the seven sacraments, Baptism is the first. Baptism is the sacrament through which we are reborn and enter the Kingdom of God (Jn 3:5). Baptism has a Biblical basis (Mt. 28:19). Through Baptism sin is forgiven (Acts 2:8). Cleansing and blessing is attained through Baptism (1pet. 3:21; Tit. 3:5). Baptism is being born from the Holy Spirit. Our Lord Jesus Christ founded baptism. At the time when Jesus Christ was to be baptized, heaven was opened, and the mystery revealed (John 3:3) (Mathews 3:16). By accepting this truth, our Church baptizes people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holly Spirit in order to make them Children of Jesus Christ. In the book of Mathew, Jesus Christ told his disciples to go and baptize all the people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holly Spirit and make them disciples (Mathew 28:19). For this reason, the Church baptizes everyone and makes him or her true Child of God. Boys have to be baptized on the 40th day of their birth while girls have to be baptized on the 80th day (Leviticus 12). 





It is the holy ointment that one is anointed with after Baptism. Confirmation, like Baptism, is performed once and cannot be repeated. Through the sacrament of confirmation, the believer is granted the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the Apostolic times the baptized person was granted the Holy Spirit by laying of the hands (Acts 20:14-17). When the church expanded, however, the bishops who continued the works of the Apostles permitted the replacement of the laying of hands by the anointing of the Holy Oil. 




Holy Communion is the culmination of all sacraments of the Church. Holy Communion means offering of sacrifice. This is not an offering of man to God, but the offering of God for man. The sheep and goats were offered as sacrifices in the altars during the times of the Old Testament. These were examples preceding the offering of the flesh and blood of Christ during the New Testament. The offering of bread and cup of grace that Melchizedek offered to Abraham (Gen. 14:18) and the sacrifices that the Israelites offered during the day of their liberation exemplify Christ our Pascal lamb. Holy Communion has Biblical foundation (Mt. 26:26; 1Cor. 11:23-25). When the priest puts the bread on the paten and the wine in the chalice and conducts liturgical prayer, the bread is changed into the body of the Son of God and the wine into the blood of the Son of God. What is thus given in our Church is the body and blood of the Son of God. 




This is the sacrament through which the clergy are entitled to perform the various spiritual services of the Church and it has Biblical basis (Mt. 28:19,20; Eph. 4:11; Acts 26:20). 




Christian marriage is one of the seven sacraments, which is performed in a church by means of which the grace of the Holy Spirit is obtained. Holy Matrimony is based on the Bible (Gen. 1:27, 28,2:18; Mt. 19:4-6). 




Penance means to feel remorse, repent and cleanse oneself from sin. Although Christians are reborn through Baptism, human beings are liable to commit sins. Therefore, every Christian should have a father confessor (Nesha Abbat). Each one should go to the father confessor and confess his/her sins. (Lev. 14:31, Mt. 8:4; Epiphanius Faith of Fathers Haimanot Abew 59:20). Those who confess their sins and return to God receive the grace of God and by receiving the Holy Communion they will enter to their former place of honor. 




Unction of the sick is the Sacrament through which the priest anoints the body of the sick asking for divine grace to cure both body and soul. It is not an ordinary means of healing diseases and the healing power is not attributed to the oil but to the prayer. St. James mentions this Sacrament in his Epistle (Jas. 5:13-15, Mk. 6:13). 


Each of the Seven Sacraments has its own book of prayer and system of application. The Seven Sacraments as a whole are considered as manifestations of the faith and tenets of the religion of the Church.