participation in the Mysteries

Even if persons with developmental disability lack the potential to ever reason abstractly, their experience of the Mysteries (the Sacraments) can engagedbe just as rich as those who can reach that stage. For the Mysteries have Divine depth, and always beckon one forward to greater participation and fuller comprehension of their import. For the experience ultimately transcends conceptualization.

pictured on the left: an engaged couple. Marriage is one of the Mysteries of the Orthodox Church.

Fr. John Breck, in “Down Syndrome at Pascha,” in his book God With Us: Critical Issues in Christian Life and Faith, describes Marie, a woman who had Down Syndrome, at the Holy Friday service: (pp. 66-67)

She was entirely dressed in black. Her face was streaked with tears, her head was bowed, and her arms hung down at her sides. As she approached the shroud, she slowly made the sign of the cross three times, prostrated herself before it, and for a moment kept her head to the floor. Then she rose, kissed the face and then the feet of Christ, and finally venerated the Bible and the Cross. “

Here’s a word from the publisher on the book as well as the site through which one may order it:

Of course, one must be baptized and/or chrismated into the Orthodox Church to participate in the Church’s mysteries. Here is an article that addresses our beliefs in this regard: For more on the Orthodox Church, see also


2 Responses to “participation in the Mysteries”

  1. 1 coldfire March 20, 2008 at 4:39 PM

    This is a major problem in my protestant church. There has been such a syncretism in the west of Christianity with Hellenistic Philosophy to the point that logic and reason has become so central to the message that we have marginalized the mentally disabled. I pray that such wrongs may be righted in the protestant church. Please pray for us, your fellow worshipers of Christ, that we might remedy such problems.


  2. 2 armsopenwide March 21, 2008 at 12:14 PM

    I certainly will, coldfire. I was there.
    St. Siluoan of Mt. Athos prayed this variation of the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us and on Thy world.”
    We pray the Jesus prayer to remove the beam from our own eyes, but we also intercede, generally and specifically, and the forms are such that are appropriate to a total trust of God’s wisdom.


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