Birth, Forty Day Blessing & Baptism
The birth of a child is more than a joyful occasion or the fruit of conjugal love. It is an expression of God's love for man. From the moment of conception, God's spirit is evident, for without Him there can be no life. Thus the Church, established by our Lord to continue His redemptory work on earth, is concerned about a life from the moment of conception and birth. At birth, the Priest is invited to read the prescribed prayers for the mother and child either at the hospital or at home.
FORTY DAY BLESSING
Forty days after birth and in accordance with the Old Testament tradition observed by the Virgin Mother (Luke 22:22-24), both mother and child make their visit to the Church. Having first notified the priest of the intended visit, they will be met at the Narthex where the appropriate prayers are read. The child is then carried by the Priest into the nave. Male children are carried into the Sanctuary and around the altar, whereas female children are only brought before the Royal Gate of the Iconostas. Since prayers of purification allude to
the reception of Holy Communion by the mother, it is recommended she prepare for Communion shortly thereafter.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…" (Matthew 28:19).
These were the last words that Jesus spoke to His disciples in the Gospel of Matthew. One would think that the last words of anyone are most likely the most important he/she would have to say. Obviously, to Jesus Christ, Baptism is of paramount importance. It is said that Baptism is the greatest of sacraments because without it we may not partake of the other sacraments of our Church. Baptism not only washes away all sin—original, voluntary and involuntary—but recreates and restores the image of God within us: giving us the potential to live a new life in Christ. In the Sacrament of Baptism, a person is incorporated into the crucified, resurrected, and glorified Christ and is reborn to participate in the divine life. Baptism is necessary for salvation and in accordance with tradition, must be performed by triple immersion in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, according to the form in the service Book. It is conferred only once. Four locks of hair are cut in the sign of the Cross on his/her head. A white outfit symbolizing purity is worn and a baptismal candle is held proclaiming that Christ is the light of this child's life. Finally, the child receives his/her first Communion. Thus, unlike other Christian denominations, in the Orthodox Christian baptismal service the child becomes a full member of the Church immediately through Baptism, Chrismation and Holy Communion.
PLANNING A BAPTISM AT OUR ST. BARBARA PARISH
- Parents, one or the other or both, if Orthodox, must be member(s) in good standing. This requires that parents, if Orthodox, are current pledging members (Stewards) of the Church. [Click here for Stewardship Commitment form] (Leslie…will get this to you with the Stewardship Section)
- The Sponsor (Godfather or Godmother) must be an Orthodox Christian and must be a member in good standing at his or her Orthodox Parish, and current in his or her membership pledge if from this Parish. If the sponsor is married, the marriage must have been blessed by an Orthodox Priest, or else her or she cannot serve as a sponsor.
- If the Sponsor is from another parish, a certificate from the priest is required, showing his membership status. This certificate is to be presented to the officiating priest prior to the Baptism.
- 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.
- 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 to the Holy Altar to receive Holy Communion.
- 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.
- The day, time, and other arrangements must be made with the Priest by calling the church office at least three weeks before the baptism.
- To insure the proper dignity and solemnity of your child's baptism, pictures should be limited as much as possible.
- Unless other arrangements have been made by the Sponsor and parents, the Sponsor should provide:
- A quantity of pure olive oil
- A bar of soap
- Two towels – one large and one small
- A white sheet in which to wrap the infant
- Three white candles
- Cross and chain for infant
- One under garment (shirt)
- Optional: Martyrika (lapel crosses)
CONVERTS - when receiving into the Orthodox Church, a person who comes voluntarily from another confession, the Orthodox Priest will accept the candidate by means of whichever of the two modes might apply:
- In the event of an un-baptized infant near death, an Orthodox Priest must be called for a clinical baptism.
- In the absence of an Orthodox clergyman, an Orthodox layman or any other Christian, may baptize the infant by the sprinkling of water, repeating the formula, "The Servant of God (child's name), is baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
- Baptism in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by triple immersion;
- Chrismation and confession of Faith.
Proof of the fact of baptism must be established by an authentic document. The Priest must undertake to instruct the applicant in matters of the Faith and practices 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.
If the Priest is expected to attend the reception, formal invitations must be sent as in done in the case of other guests.
WHEN BAPTISMS ARE NOT CONDUCTED
Baptisms may not be performed from Christmas Day through the feast of Theophany (December 25th to January 6th), during Holy Week, or on any of the Great Feastdays of the Lord. Baptisms may be done during seasons of fasting, such as Great Lent, the Dormition Fast and during the Christmas Advent. However, due to the solemnity and fasting expectations of these days, it is preferred to schedule Baptisms outside these holy seasons. Any questions or concerns may be brought to the priest's attention.
PLEASE CALL THE CHURCH OFFICE IN ADVANCE TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH FR. PETER FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS AND TO SECURE THE DATE FOR YOUR 40-DAY BLESSING OR BAPTISM. COMPLETE THE FORMS BELOW AND MAIL TO THE OFFICE.
Click Here for 40-Day Blessing Form
Click Here for Baptism Information Form