Dn. Dr. Christopher Sheklian, Director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, was the speaker for the second Live Session Discussion Series of the Christ as Healer Module. The Live Conversation on “Healing Services of the Armenian Church as Sacraments” took place on August 19, 2020.
Dr. Sheklian stressed three ideas throughout the conversation:
- The two Healing Services that are up on the website vemkar.us should absolutely be considered sacraments of the Armenian Apostolic Church. One of the services, which is posted under the name “Communion for the Sick,” and whose full title is “The Canon of Prayers for the Night Hour that is conducted over the gravely ill for the healing of pain and the remission of sin,” is the service that most closely corresponds to the Catholic sacrament of “The Annointing of the Sick” or “Extreme Unction.” The service called “Prayers for Healing Service” is derived from the liturgical service known as Khachahankisd or “The Rest of the Cross,” and also includes portions of the “Communion for the Sick.” Both of these services, in some form, are found in the liturgical book known as the Mashdots.
- Not only should these healing services be considered sacraments, but in fact, healing is central to any idea of the sacraments. “There is no rite or sacrament which is not a manifestation of God’s love—and therefore His healing power. It is not simply that the sacraments contain a reference to healing, they are in fact manifestations of God’s love that heals the entire world, which of course includes human souls and bodies. Sacraments, we might say, are fundamentally, in their essence, manifestations of the healing force of God’s love.”
- The Armenian Christian understanding of the sacraments is wide-ranging and encompasses “any manifestation of God’s love and grace that directs us to the salvific mystery of Jesus Christ.” There are not just 7 sacraments, but in fact “From the Armenian perspective […] grace, understood as salvation itself, the Kingdom of God, is everywhere and always present as a permanent and irrevocable condition of the world” (quoting from an article by Bishop Daniel Findikyan).
During the conversation, Dr. Sheklian asked the audience to help him enumerate the “7 Sacraments” as they are found according to Catholic Christian catechism. Dr. Sheklian incorrectly suggested that “Holy Communion” gets melded with “Annointing of the Sick” and also included Funerals in this list of sacraments. The list that he read in Armenian from St. Gregory of Datev is the correct list of the 7 Sacraments according to Catholic theology. They are:
- Holy Communion
- Final Unction/Annointing of the Sick
- Ordination/Holy Orders