In Christianity, the laying on of hands (Greek: cheirotonia – χειροτονία, literally, "laying-on of hands") is both a symbolic and formal method of invoking the Holy Spirit primarily during baptisms and confirmations, healing services, blessings, and ordination of priests, ministers, elders, deacons, and other church officers, along with a variety of other church sacraments and holy ceremonies.
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers.
For the majority of Christian denominations, the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, is the third person of the Trinity: the Triune God manifested as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; each entity itself being God. Nontrinitarian Christians, who reject the doctrine of the Trinity, differ significantly from mainstream Christianity in their beliefs about the Holy Spirit. In Christian theology, pneumatology refers to the study of the Holy Spirit. Due to Christianity's historical relationship with Judaism, theologians often identify the Holy Spirit with the concept of the Ruach Hakodesh in Jewish scripture, in the belief Jesus was expanding upon these Jewish concepts. Similar names, and ideas, include the Ruach Elohim, Ruach YHWH, and the Ruach Hakmah. In the New Testament it is identified with the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete and the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is a Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. The synoptic gospels recount that John the Baptist baptised Jesus. Baptism is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. Baptism is also called christening, although some reserve the word "christening" for the baptism of infants. It has also given its name to the Baptist churches and denominations.
In the New Testament the laying on of hands was associated with Christ healing the sick (Luke 4:40) and after his ascension, the receiving of the Holy Spirit (See Acts 8:14–19). Initially the Apostles laid hands on new believers as well as believers. (See Acts 6:5–6). In the early church, the practice continued and is still used in a wide variety of church ceremonies, such as during confirmation.
The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first being the Old Testament. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture.
The laying on of hands is a religious practice. In Judaism it accompanies the conferring of a blessing or authority.
Acts of the Apostles, often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian church and the spread of its message to the Roman Empire.
In Eastern Christianity, laying on of hands is used for the ordination (called cheirotonia) of the higher clergy (bishops, priests and deacons) which is distinguished from the blessing (called cheirothesia) of the lower clergy (taper bearers, readers and subdeacons)as well as making an abbot or abbess or promoting a deacon to archdeacon, etc. Priests and deacons receive the laying on of hands by a single bishop, bishops are consecrated by three or more bishops.
Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches, and the denominations descended from the Church of the East. The Ukrainian Lutheran Church is also an Eastern Christian church that uses the Byzantine Rite. The term is used in contrast with Western Christianity, although its scope has been one of continual discussion. Eastern Christianity consists of the Christian traditions and churches that developed distinctively over several centuries in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Malabar coast of South India, and parts of the Far East. The term does not describe a single communion or religious denomination. Some Eastern churches have more in common historically and theologically with Western Christianity than with one another. The various Eastern churches do not normally refer to themselves as "Eastern", with the exception of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.
Minor orders are ranks of church ministry lower than major orders.
An altar server is a lay assistant to a member of the clergy during a Christian liturgy. An altar server attends to supporting tasks at the altar such as fetching and carrying, ringing the altar bell, among other things. If young, the server is commonly called an altar boy or altar girl. In some Christian denominations, altar servers are known as acolytes.
The chrism (Greek: myron) which is used at chrismation and the anointing of sovereigns is believed to contain chrism which the Apostles blessed and laid their hands on, the former since some existing chrism is poured into newly consecrated chrism and the latter is stated in the prayer used in the consecration of chrism. This is consecrated and added to as needed by the primates of the autocephalous churches, and is dispersed to priests for their use in administering the sacred mysteries (sacraments). In the Eastern Christian Tradition, anointing with the chrism is the equivalent of laying on of hands.The presentation of this chrism which has received the laying on of hands, together with an antimension is the manner in which a bishop bestows faculties upon a priest under his omophorion (i.e., under his authority).
Chrism, also called myrrh, myron, holy anointing oil, and consecrated oil, is a consecrated oil used in the Anglican, Armenian, Assyrian, Catholic and Old Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Mormon churches and Nordic Lutheran Churches in the administration of certain sacraments and ecclesiastical functions.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
Chrismation consists of the sacrament or mystery in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church of the East initiation rites. The sacrament is more commonly known in the West as confirmation, although Italian normally uses cresima ("chrismation") rather than confermazione ("confirmation").
The laying on of hands is also performed at the end of the sacrament of unction. This mystery should be performed by seven priests six of whom lay their hands on a Gospel Book which has been placed over the head of the one being anointed, while the senior priest reads a prayer.
The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament – normally all four – centering on the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the roots of the Christian faith. The term is also used of the liturgical book, also called the Evangeliary, from which are read the portions of the Gospels used in the Mass and other services, arranged according to the order of the liturgical calendar.
In the Catholic Church, the laying on of hands is performed in the sacrament of Holy Orders and is the means by which one is included in one of the three major orders: bishop, priest, or deacon. Ordination can be administered only by a bishop in Apostolic Succession (valid), and should only be accomplished by a bishop who is properly authorized by the Holy See (licit). The laying on of hands to the priesthood enables a person so ordained to act in persona Christi ; i.e., "in the person of Christ." Ordination allows a priest validly to administer sacraments, most notably giving that individual the authority to celebrate the Eucharist. The sacraments of ordination and confirmation are, however, reserved exclusively to a bishop (with certain exceptions).
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
There are seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three categories: the sacraments of initiation, consisting of baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of reconciliation and anointing of the sick; and the sacraments of service: holy orders and matrimony.
The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, refers to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope, which includes the apostolic episcopal see of the Diocese of Rome, and the universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church. Founded in the 1st century by Saints Peter and Paul, by virtue of Petrine and papal primacy according to Catholic tradition, it is the focal point of full communion for Catholics around the world. As a sovereign entity of international law representing papal jurisdiction, the Holy See is headquartered in, operates from, and exercises "exclusive dominion" over the independent Vatican City State enclave in Rome, Italy, of which the pope is sovereign. It is organized into polities of the Latin Church and the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, and their dioceses and religious institutes.
The sacrament of Confirmation is "the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost", and "brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace."In the Western Latin-Rite Latin Church, the sacrament is customarily conferred only on persons old enough to understand it, and the ordinary minister of Confirmation is a bishop. Only for a serious reason may the diocesan bishop delegate a priest to administer the sacrament (canon 884 of the Code of Canon Law). However, a priest may by law confer the sacrament, if he baptizes someone who is no longer an infant or admits a person already baptized to full communion, or if the person (adult or child) to be confirmed is in danger of death (canon 883).
Laying on of hands is part of Anglican confirmation,anointing of the sick, and other parts of liturgy and pastoral offices. The Guild of St Raphael, founded in 1915, is an organization within the Anglican church specifically dedicated to promoting, supporting and practicing Christ's ministry of healing through the laying on of hands as an integral part of the Church. The laying on of hands is also performed in the sacrament of Holy Orders and is the means by which one is included in one of the three ordained orders of the church: bishop, priest, or deacon. Ordination can be administered only by a bishop in Apostolic Succession.
A Cathar Perfect, the highest initiate in the Cathar hierarchy after spending time as a Listener and then Believer, had to undergo a rigorous training of three years before being inducted as a member of the spiritual elite of the now defunct religious movement. This took place during a ceremony in which various Scriptural extracts were quoted, including, most particularly, the opening verses of the Gospel of John. The ceremony was completed by a ritual laying on of hands, also known as Manisola, as the candidate vowed to abjure the world and accept the Holy Spirit. At this point, the Perfecti believed, the Holy Spirit was able to descend and dwell within the new Perfect — hence the austere lifestyle needed to provide a pure dwelling place for the Spirit. Once in this state of housing the Holy Spirit within themselves, the Perfect were believed to have become "trans-material" or semi-angelic, not yet released from the confines of the body but containing within them an enhanced spirituality which linked them to God even in this world, as expressed in the Gospel of Luke. The Cathars were decimated and annihilated as a sect during the Albigensian Crusade.
Pentecostal Christians practice the laying on of hands as part of prayer for divine healing and the anointing of the sick. While laying on of hands is not required for healing, Pentecostals believe that, in addition to its biblical origins, the act of touching is an encouragement to faith.
In adherence to strict autonomy and autocephalocy, the Southern Baptist Church does not officially prescribe, reject, or affirm the practice of laying on of hands. Each church is expected to decide the matter for itself between its clergy and its congregation. In regards to ordination, the laying of hands is representative of authorizing, permitting, and recognizing the calling of the receipiant to the clergy.
Southern Baptist Christians employ the laying on of hands during the ordination of clergymen (such as deacons, assistant, and senior pastors) as well as situations of calling for divine healing.
The laying of hands generally encompasses three different variations. Some, all, or none of these are employed at each church, based on each congregation's preferences.
Like baptism and the administration of the Lord's Supper (the Eucharist), Southern Baptists believe the laying of hands to be a solely ceremonial action which, while still holy and important, does not empower or invoke the specific task it is used to call for.In ordination, the laying of hands is not empowering the individual to serve in the clergy, but to authorize and recognize his spiritual gifts and his calling to do so. In healing, it is to ascribe urgency and importance, not to invoke actual healing. Southern Baptists do not believe that God's power can be invoked by man, but that the decision to heal or not heal is God's will alone.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requires the laying on of hands for many of its ordinances, including confirmation, ordination to the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, and blessings of healing and strength.
Anointing of the sick, known also by other names, is a form of religious anointing or "unction" for the benefit of a sick person. It is practiced by many Christian churches and denominations.
In the Christian churches, holy orders are ordained ministries such as bishop, priest, or deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament. The Anglo-Catholic tradition within Anglicanism identifies more with the Roman Catholic position about the sacramental nature of ordination.
A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state.
Anointing is the ritual act of pouring aromatic oil over a person's head or entire body. By extension, the term is also applied to related acts of sprinkling, dousing, or smearing a person or object with any perfumed oil, milk, butter, or other fat. Scented oils are used as perfumes and sharing them is an act of hospitality. Their use to introduce a divine influence or presence is recorded from the earliest times; anointing was thus used as a form of medicine, thought to rid persons and things of dangerous spirits and demons which were believed to cause disease.
Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are thus then authorized to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is undergoing the process of ordination is sometimes called an ordinand. The liturgy used at an ordination is sometimes referred to as an ordination.
In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of Christianity created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. In some denominations, such as the Anglican Communion and Methodist Churches, confirmation bestows full membership in a local congregation upon the recipient. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, confirmation "renders the bond with the Church more perfect", because, while a baptized person is already a member, "reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace".
In Christianity, a minister is a person authorized by a church, or other religious organization, to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister, which itself was derived from minus ("less").
Presbyterium is a modern term used in the Catholic Church and Eastern Catholic Churches after the Second Vatican Council in reference to a college of priests, in active ministry, of an individual particular church such as a diocese or eparchy. The body, in union with their bishop as a collective, is a symbol of the collaborative and collegial nature of their sacerdotal ministry as inspired by the reforms made during the Second Vatican Council.
The Chrism Mass is a religious service held in Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism.
In keeping with its prevailing self-identity as a via media or "middle path" of Western Christianity, Anglican sacramental theology expresses elements in keeping with its status as a church in the Catholic tradition and a church of the Reformation. With respect to sacramental theology the Catholic tradition is perhaps most strongly asserted in the importance Anglicanism places on the sacraments as a means of grace, sanctification and forgiveness as expressed in the church's liturgy.
The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.
The sacraments are viewed as vital ministries in Community of Christ for both individual and community spiritual development. They are viewed as essential to the mission, identity and message of the denomination, providing a common foundation for religious practice across the world. The sacraments practiced by Community of Christ are baptism, confirmation, the Lord's supper, marriage, administration to the sick, ordination, blessing of children, and evangelist's blessing. These latter two are not widely practiced as sacraments in other Christian denominations. Community of Christ does not observe confession as a sacrament.
The priesthood is one of the three holy orders of the Catholic Church, comprising the ordained priests or presbyters. The other two orders are the bishops and the deacons. Only men are allowed to receive holy orders, and the church does not allow any transgender people to do so. Church doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised Catholics as the "common priesthood".
Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church that is administered to a Catholic "who, having reached the age of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age", except in the case of those who "persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin". Proximate danger of death, the occasion for the administration of Viaticum, is not required, but only the onset of a medical condition of serious illness or injury or simply old age: "It is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."
Consecrations in Eastern Christianity can refer to either the Sacred Mystery (Sacrament) of Cheirotonea of a bishop, or the sanctification and solemn dedication of a church building. It can also be used to describe the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Divine Liturgy. The Chrism used at Chrismation and the Antimension placed on the Holy Table are also said to be consecrated.
The Lutheran sacraments are "sacred acts of divine institution". Lutherans believe that, whenever they are properly administered by the use of the physical component commanded by God along with the divine words of institution, God is, in a way specific to each sacrament, present with the Word and physical component. They teach that God earnestly offers to all who receive the sacrament forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. They teach that God also works in the recipients to get them to accept these blessings and to increase the assurance of their possession.
In the Catholic Church the term minister enjoys a variety of usages. It most commonly refers to the person, whether lay or ordained, who is commissioned to perform some act on behalf of the Church. It is not a particular office or rank of clergy, as is the case in some other churches, but minister may be used as a collective term for vocational or professional pastoral leaders including clergy and non-clergy. It is also used in reference to the canonical and liturgical administration of sacraments, as part of some offices, and with reference to the exercise of the lay apostolate.