- When to Baptise
- 40 Day Blessing
- God Parents
Baptism is the gateway to grace and participation
in the Mysteries of the Church. It is a new birth and is performed
for our salvation.
He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16).
The Epistles of the Apostles tell us that through Baptism we are sanctified, cleansed, justified, die to sin, are buried with Christ to arise with Him.
You were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:11)
We are buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:4)
The Greek word is “baptizo” which literally means “to immerse.” After anointing with oil the priest takes the child facing East, while the sponsor anoints the entire body, and then immerses the body three times saying, The servant of God (name) is baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
This is done in accordance with the command
of Christ Himself.
Make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. (Matt 28:19)
In Baptism all sins are forgiven. As the priest is finishing the blessing of the water he recites a prayer which says; “Will You the Sovereign of all, show this water to be the water of redemption, the water of sanctification, the cleansing of flesh and spirit, the loosing of bonds, the remission of sins, the illumination of the soul, the bath of rebirth, the renewal of spirit, the gift of adoption to sonship, the garment of incorruption, the fountain of life…. “
Baptism is like a resurrection, a new birth.
The prayer continues;
“Being buried in the likeness of Your death through baptism, he (she) may likewise become a partaker in Your resurrection; and having guarded the gift of the Holy Spirit, and increased the measure of grace entrusted to him (her), he (she) may receive the prize of the heavenly calling and so be numbered among the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, in You our God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Through baptism the door is opened to a new way of life. One now is united with the body of Christ in the Church and has the opportunity to receive the gifts of God though the Mysteries of the Church. Our spiritual growth still depends on our God given free will. We must be willing to follow God’s will. Through the mystical life of the church we will be supported in our spiritual growth. Baptism is the starting point of our salvation. Afterwaards we must cooperate with divine grace and partake of the support given to us through the Mysteries of the Church.
When to Baptize
Baptize your child as soon as possible after the forty-day blessing. Baptism's are not permitted December 25 thru January 6, and Easter Holy Week. There may be other days such as major feast days that may be inconvenient or inappropriate,
Some Protestants argue that the only valid baptism is that of an adult who believes in Christ. They claim that baptizing a helpless infant who is only a few weeks old and who is unable to believe is meaningless. Why baptize a baby when it doesn't know yet what is happening? Why not wait for the baby to grow and believe in Christ and ask for baptism? If we were to follow this line of reasoning, we wouldn’t inoculate the baby against disease until he grows up and asks for it! But we know better. Baptizing infants before they know what is going on is an expression of God's great love for us. It shows that God loves us and accepts us before we can ever know and love Him. It shows that we are wanted and loved by God from the very moment of our birth. Nothing shows the nature of God's grace more than infant baptism. The Orthodox Church does not belittle personal faith in an adult who seeks baptism, but instead insists that the whole emphasis of baptism is not an what the baby does or the parents or the godparents, but on what God does. The fact that we are Christians is not due to any act on our part; it is due to the act of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Of course Baptism demands a personal response on the part of the baptized child when it reaches the age of reason. The child must accept what God did for him or her in Baptism. Baptism is not a divine pass that will get us into Heaven automatically. It must be followed by a personal awareness or awakening to the many gifts of God's love bestowed upon us through this great sacrament. Infant baptism is a practice that comes from the earliest days of the Church.
1. The Sponsor (Godfather or Godmother) must be an Orthodox Christian. If the Sponsor is married, the marriage must have been blessed by an Orthodox priest.
2. The role of the Sponsor is directly related to infant baptism. Since the infant is unable to make the necessary confession of faith, the Sponsor stands and vouches for it.
3. The Sponsor should be ready to recite the Nicene Creed either in Greek or English. For three consecutive Sundays after the baptism, the Sponsor should carry the neophyte for the Holy Altar to receive Holy Communion.
4. According to the tradition of the Orthodox church, one name of Orthodox Christian origin should be given to the child at the time of baptism.
5. The day, time, and other arrangements of the baptism must be made with the priest. Please call the church office to discuss these arrangements at least one month before the baptism.
6. The Sponsor should provide:
-- A complete change of clothes for the child
-- One bottle of olive oil
-- A Gold cross for the child
-- Three white candles
-- One of each of the following: bar of soap, hand towel, bath towel, sheet
7. In the event that an unbaptized infant is near death, an Orthodox priest may be called to perform a clinical baptism. In the absence of an Orthodox clergyman, a layman or any other Christian may baptize the infant by sprinkling water on the child while repeating the following three times: "The servant of God (name), is baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
8. Those who wishing to become an Orthodox Christian must receive catechism from an Orthodox priest. After receiving instruction in the faith, the candidate is accepted into the church by one of three ways prescribed by the Sixth Ecumenical Council (Canon 95) as appropriate:
-- Baptism in the name of the Father, of the Son, and Holy Spirit by triune immersion
-- Confession of Faith.
Proof of baptism must be established by an authentic document. The priest must undertake to instruct the applicant in matters of the faith and practice that govern the inner life and outward behavior of the Orthodox Christian. If the applicant has not been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity in a Christian church by the principle of "oikonomia," he or she must be baptized as prescribed in the Service Book.
Forty Day Blessing
The most important custom for the newborn and the mother is the forty-day blessing (sarantismos), a reenactment of Mary's bringing Jesus to the temple on the fortieth day after his birth (The Presentation of Jesus Christ in the Temple). The mother brings her baby to church on the fortieth day (or the closest following Sunday) for a brief service of purification and to formally bring the baby into the church. Call the priest to arrange for the time.
According to tradition this is the first time that the new mother and the baby are allowed to enter the church. (In the past some peopled believed that going outside the house before the prescribed forty days would bring bad luck.)
The mother and child remain in the church narthex and do not enter the nave until the priest has offered a prayer. Then the priest carries the baby to the front of the church, followed by the mother and sometimes other participants. The priest proclaims: "The servant of God is brought within the church in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
After the forty-day blessing, close family members say, "Na mas Zisi" ("May he/she live for us") and acquaintances offer congratulations with "Na sas zisi" ("May he/she/ live for you"). Since mother and child are still in delicate condition, no celebration or reception afterwards is necessary.
Above taken from the book A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America by Marilyn Rouvelas
The Church Tradition
The Feast of "Our Lord's Presentation in the Temple, (Feb 2) " takes place 40 days after the Nativity of Christ or Christmas. The readings for the Divine Liturgy that day are as follows: Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 7:7-17; and Gospel Lesson: Luke 2:22-40.
Christ was presented to the Temple in obedience to the Mosaic Law which he as the Messiah had come to fulfill. The parents would bring the child along with a sacrifice, "a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons."
Why did Jesus submit to the Law?
Jesus submitted to the Law so that the Law might be fulfilled in Him, and in all who accept Jesus as Messiah. The old people, Simeon and Anna symbolize the dying of the Old Covenant and the establishing of the New Covenant in Christ.
The Purification of Mary
The Hebrew Tradition of Leviticus 12 portrays a woman as being unclean for forty days after the birth of a male child and 80 days after the birth of a female child. The woman would come with a lamb, if she could afford it, or if not, two turtle doves or two pigeons. Mary and Joseph were poor because they could not offer a lamb, but offered two turtles doves. However, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Human beings feel impure in the presence of God, it is a humbling experience. Such times occur at birth and death. Giving birth is not a sin, neither is conceiving a child, however coming to the Church and acknolwedging Him as the Giver of Life and thanking Him for protecting the Mother during child birth is why it is now done.
The woman has been absent from the Liturgy for forty days since the birth of her child and is in need of re-establishing herself in the assembly of the Church. She enters the Church, having encountered the miracle of Birth and pryers of thankgiving are offered for having protected the Mother during child birth. The child is also prayed over for God to watch over it and protect it until the time for its baptism. The Child is brought before the icons of Christ and up the steps infront of the Royal Gates of the Holy Altar and offered to God.
Resources on the role of Women in the Church
Behr-Sigel, Elisabeth. The Ministry of Women in the Church. California: Oakwood Pub. 1987.
Conclusions of the Inter-Orthodox Consultation on The Place of Women in the Orthodox Church and the Question of the Ordination of Women. Rhodes, Greece, 30 October-7 November 1988. Minneapolis: Light and Life Pub. 1990.
Gvosdev, Matushka. The Female Diaconate: An Historical Perspective. Minneapolis: Light and Life Pub. 1990.
Topping, Eva. Saints and Sisterhood: The Lives of Forty-Eight Holy Women. Minneapolis: Light and Life Pub. 1990.
Taken from the web site of the Asumption Greek Orthodox Chruch, Scotsdale AZ
Choosing the God
In the Orthodox Church every person, child or adult, should have a godparent (sponsor) at the time that they enter into the faith through Holy Baptism and Chrismation. To be a godparent is at the same time a great honor and a tremendous responsibility. God asks each godparent to assist in leading souls along the narrow path which leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. For this reason the role of the godparent is not to be minimized or trivialized. It is in fact a role that is holy and needs to be taken seriously.
The task of steering a child along the narrow path, and bringing them up according to the law of God is perhaps the greatest of all things in life. St. Theophan the Recluse says that there is no holier act. What better thing can we offer our children than to lead them to our Lord and teach them to imitate Him in their life.
Parents must exercise the greatest care in the selection of godparents for their children. They must bring godliness and holiness to the child. The faith of the godparent and their involvement within the sacramental life of the Church is crucial. It goes without saying that they must be an Orthodox person.
The parents are responsible for the celebration after the baptism ceremony. Invitations should not include the name of the child as this will be give during the ceremony. Just invite guests to the baptism of your son or daughter.
You will also have to select two people to undress and to dress the baby at the ceremony. You should also choose tow or more children to walk with candles around the font at the prescribed time during the ceremony.
You should also give the godparent a gift to show your appreciation.
of the Godparent
The primary responsibility of the godparent is to encourage the child to live an Orthodox way. The first responsibility should be to take the child for communion following the baptism. The child should receive communion three times. Bring the baptismal candle, lighting it just before communion and carry it and the child to the front for the sacrament.
Provide the child with information about their patron saint and give the child an icon of the saint encouraging him or her to emulate the traits of this saint.
Remember the child's name day, birthday and other special occasions such as Easter and Christmas. Attend church together when possible.