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The Experience Of God vol. 5: The Sanctifying Mysteries

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Fr Dimitri Staniloae






This wonderfully written and carefully translated book, The Sanctifying Mysteries, is especially important for English speakers, because it constitutes the first comprehensive treatment in the English language of the holy mysteries from an Orthodox doctrinal perspective. The book will doubtlessly prove to be a valuable resource for all people of faith, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike, who wish to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the holy mysteries…By highlighting the essential role of the sacred mysteries in the life of the Church and in the life of her individual members, Fr. Staniloae stirs the heart and mind of his readers, helping them discern the awesome truth that through the sacraments Christ becomes everyone’s contemporary. Through them Christ touches, purifies, illumines, redeems, sanctifies, and deifies every person who comes to Him in faith. Hence Fr. Staniloae counsels that participation in the sacraments demands not only faith but also effort if their powers are to be perfected and their recipients to undergo a real transformation into the image of Christ.

Fr Dimitru Staniloae (1903-1993) is widely considered as one of the greatest Orthodox theologians of the 20th Century. He was Professor of Dogmatics at the Theological Institute in Bucharest, Romania from 1947-1973. In 1990 he was made a Member of the Romanian Academy. — Backcover



1. Christ’s Saving Mysteries: Creation Unified and Made New in the Church
A. The Sacraments and Creation
B. The Christological and Ecclesiological Basis of the Mysteries
i. Visible and Invisible Operations: The Body, Soul, and Grace of Christ
ii. Christ, the Unseen Celebrant of the Mysteries
iii. The Christological and Ecclesial Character of the Mysteries
iv. The Priest as Visible Celebrant of the Mysteries
2. Baptism: The Mystery of Rebirth through Water and the Spirit
A. The Unity between Water and the Holy Spirit as Womb of the New Man
B. The Multiple Efficacy of the Act of Baptism and of the Priest’s Declaration
i. Baptism as the Death of the Old Man and as Rebirth
ii. Baptism as the Power of Continuous Spiritual Growth
iii. Baptism as the Restoration of Christ’s Image in Man
iv. Baptism as the Gate of Entrance into the Church
C. The Absolute Necessity of Baptism for Salvation
3. Chrismation: “The Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit”
A. The Link between Baptism and Chrismation
B. The Special Activity of the Holy Spirit in the Mystery of Chrismation
C. The Meaning of the Visible Act of Chrismation
4. The Divine Eucharist: The Mystery of the Lord’s Body and Blood
A. The Relationship between the Three Mysteries of Initiation
B. The Real Presence of the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist
C. The Presence of the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist and the Transformation of the Bread and Wine
D. The Eucharist as Sacrifice and Mystery
E. The Priest as Celebrant of the Eucharist
5. Repentance: The Mystery of Forgiveness
A. The Institution of the Mystery and Its Practice from the Beginning of the Church
B. The Constitutive Elements or Stages of the Mystery
i. The Confession of Sins and Its Spiritual Value
ii. The Epitimia (Penances) Recommended by the Priest
iii. The Absolution Given by the Priest to the Penitent
6. Ordination: Priesthood as the Living Image of Christ
A. The Distinction between Ordination and the Other Mysteries
B. The Invisible Priesthood of Christ, Source of the Visible Priesthood of the Church
C. Priesthood and the Unity of the Church
D. The Institution of the Priesthood; The Three Ranks of Priesthood from the Beginning of the Church
E. The Spiritual Character of the Christian Liturgical Priesthood and the Priesthood of the Faithful
F. Apostolic Succession
F. The Visible Aspects of Ordination and the Invisible Power It Bestows
7. Marriage: The Mystery of Human Love Crowned in Glory and Honor
A. The Place of Marriage among the Other Mysteries
B. Marriage as a Natural, Lifelong Bond between a Man and a Woman
C. The Strengthening and Ennobling of Marriage by Christ
D. The Mystery’s Constitutive Aspects and Their Significance for the Spiritual Power Bestowed by the Mystery
8. Holy Unction: The Mystery of Divine Healing
A. Definition and Main Purpose
B. Secondary Purpose


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