The Orthodox Pages


























Question 176

Hi father I have a question , when I felt the need to make a wax candle of a body part for a person that was taken unwell I took it and them to church to have a prayer read by the priest from the church I grew up in.  I want to ask this question The priest was reading his prayer in English ... he asked for this young person To be forgiven for their sins ... therefore making this youngster feel that they had been given this illness because of their sins ... they could not understand this ...all this did was distance the youngster from going back to church, as they felt they had been told by our religion that they were struck by this illness because of their sins .  How can I explain it to them? 


Answer to Question 176


I’m not sure which prayer or prayers your priest read. In general there are three prayers that we read for those who are suffering from bodily ailments. Of these three only the second one makes mention of sins, but doesn’t say that the illness was a result of the person’s sins.  The prayer reads:


“O Almighty Master, the healer of our souls and bodies, who humbles and exalts; who chastises and also heals; in thy mercy visit our brother/sister (.....) who is unwell. Stretch forth thine arm, that is full of healing and raise him/her from his/her bed and cure him/her from his/her illness. Expel the spirit of disease; banish from him/her every wound, every pain, every suffering, every fever or shivering; and if there be in him/her offences and transgressions, loose, remit and forgive him/her through thy loving kindness, Yea, O Lord, spare thy creature, in Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom thou art blessed, together with thine all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever; world without end. Amen.”


The prayer simply says that “if “ there are offences in him to forgive them. But in general we understand that illnesses are a result of sin, not the person’s sins, but mankind as a whole. God created Adam to live immortal, but with his disobedience and fall from God’s grace, illnesses and death entered into this world. Without Adam’s sin there would be no illnesses and there would be no death. So if Adam’s one sin resulting in illnesses and death, it is logical to say that everyone’s sin effects us in some way, it does not necessarily mean our own sins, but all of mankinds.  Christ also confirms that sin can cause illnesses: In the story of the man sick of the palsy Jesus first said to him “thy sins be forgiven thee”.  The scribes were scandalize by this saying that Jesus had blasphemed because who can forgive sins but God. Christ then said to them “What is easier to say, thy sins be forgiven thee or to say Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” (Matthew 9:2-8)  So in effect Christ is saying that whatever he said it would have the same meaning, either thy sins be forgiven thee or arise take up thy bed and walk.