St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Ottawa

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

The Sacramental Life

God has made it possible for us to come to know Him through His Revelation in the Bible, His Incarnation in Jesus Christ and through reception of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). Through the Sacraments, we commune with God in a mystical way. The Sacraments are our means of experiencing salvation in this life and a taste of eternal life to come.


Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:18-20).


Baptism is the Sacrament by which those immersed into water in the name of the Holy Trinity are reborn. By this, we are buried in the water and then rise out to put on a new life in Christ Himself. In Baptism, we are washed in Christ, received into a divine relationship and we promise to devote our lives to the service of God. The following guidelines are offered concerning the Sacrament of Baptism at St. Elias.

  1. At least one sponsor is required as a guarantor to the Church that the child will be brought up in the Orthodox Faith. The Godparent must be a practicing Orthodox Christian, in that no one can guarantee something that they do not possess.  The other Godparent must at least be a validly baptized Christian.
  2. Godparents must meet with the priest prior to the celebrating of the Sacrament in order to discuss the significance of this Sacrament in their lives and the life of the child.  Godparents must also receive confession and communion on a Sunday prior to the baptism.
  3. Parents should discuss plans for the Baptism of their child with the priest prior to making any commitments concerning naming a sponsor, date and time.

Funeral Service

The service for the repose of the soul of the faithful departed is offered in the Church by the priest and the community for all Orthodox believers. In the event of a death, the priest should be informed immediately so that proper arrangements can be made.


Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and will be one flesh (Genesis 2:24).


Holy Matrimony is the Sacrament by which two Christians are united as one body in an image of Christs union with His Church. The Sacrament confirms the love that exists between a man and a woman in God by Christ in the Holy Spirit.

For marriages celebrated at St. Elias Cathedral, at least one member of the couple should be a baptized Orthodox Christian; the other member, if not Orthodox, must at least be a Christian baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (i.e. Catholic.) All plans for the wedding should be discussed with the priest at least six months in advance of a proposed date and before a date is set. There are times during the Liturgical Year that marriage is prohibited (such as during the various fasting periods of the Church calendar.)

All couples must attend pre-marital counseling with the priest in the months prior to the wedding, and receive confession and communion in the weeks leading up to the wedding.

Chrismation and Reception of Converts

Adults who wish to be received into communion with the Orthodox Church are provided a period of introduction and instruction. Under the guidance of the priest and with the encouragement of the community, the candidate participates in the worship of the parish and learns the basic teaching of the Orthodox Faith. The candidate is formally received into the life of the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism or by Chrismation (if previously baptized as a Christian in the name of the Holy Trinity and immersion of water). Through Chrismation, the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to confirm us in the Orthodox Faith. An Orthodox sponsor is required for the reception of converts.

It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; He has put His seal upon us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Communion (Eucharist)

The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him (John 6:56).

This is our Holy Communion with God through Jesus Christ. We are spiritually fed by receiving the true body and blood of Christ. Christ instituted this Sacrament at His Last (Mystical) Supper to show the new relationship that exists between God and His Church. The Eucharist is the central mystery of the Church. When we receive the precious Body and Blood of Christ, we become filled with the saving presence of God the Son. The preparation and offering of Holy Communion in the Liturgy is the principle work of the parish.  Only Orthodox Christians should approach the chalice for Holy Communion.  All others are invited to pray with us and receive portion of the antidoron (blessed bread) after venerating the Cross after the dismissal.

Orthodox believers should prepare to receive the Eucharist: through prayer, fasting and regular Confession.

The Eucharistic Fast is observed as part of our preparation to receive Communion. Fasting among Christians is rooted in the example of Christ and His disciples. If Communion is to be received in the morning, then we fast from food and drink from the night before. If Communion is to be received in the evening, then we fast from our noon meal on. Fasting regulations are relaxed for children, the sick, the elderly, or those with medicinal needs.


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and He will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

This Sacrament of Penance allows us to be forgiven for those sins we commit after our Baptism. We cleanse our Baptismal garment through the tears of our repentance. It is necessary to be aware and reflective of our sinfulness so we can grow spiritually. Many describe sin as missing the mark; therefore we confess our sins so that our aim becomes more direct. Consistent participation in this Sacrament is essential for all Orthodox. Confession is offered Saturday night after Great Vespers and Sunday Mornings during Matins.