is a covenant, an agreement between
God and man. God promises to be our
Father and we promise to be His children.
Baptizing infants, before they are aware
of what will take place, is an expression
of God's great love for us. It shows
us that God loves us and accepts us
before we can even know Him or love
Him. It shows us that we are wanted
and loved by God from the moment of
Sacrament of the Greek Orthodox baptism
is rich with symbolism, every step of
the process reflects the journey from
evil into the light of love for our
Lord and savior Jesus.
- The first step begins with the entrance
to the church. This is to show that
the one being received is not yet a
member of the Church. The priest calls
upon the sponsor to renounce Satan and
all his works from the child. The renouncing
of Satan is done facing the west, it
is where the sun sets, the place where
the ancient Greeks believed to be the
location of Hades, the gates of Hell.
Then the priest faces east, where the
sun rises. He asks the godparents to
accept for the child "Christ, who
is the light of the world". Renouncing
Satan and accepting Christ expresses
our faith from the master of darkness
to the master of light.
priest makes the sign of the cross over
the child, this is repeated often during
the service. The cross is the sign of
victory, this puts the devil into flight.
In the ancient times, slaves were branded
to show which master they belonged to.
The sign of the cross brands us as member
of Christ's flock.
CREED - The godparents are asked
to confess faith in Christ on behalf
of the infant. They recite the Nicene
Creed. The Creed was the password that
distinguished the ancient Christians
as members of the Christian faith.
THE CHILD - Form the moment the
child is received into the Church, emphasis
is placed on individuality, with his
name he is distinguished from every
other child. This is an expression of
dignity in the eyes of God. It is the
Church's expression of acceptance of
him as an individual in his own right,
a new beginning of life through baptism.
BAPTISMAL FONT - The baptismal font
is the language of the Church Fathers
in the Divine Womb whence we receive
the second birth as children of God.
"But to all who receive Him, who
believe in His name, He gave power to
become children of God; who were born,
not of blood nor of the will of the
flesh nor the will of man, but of God."
TRIPLE IMMERSION - We believe that
Christ died for our sins. The full immersion
in water symbolizes death. Through baptism
we share mysteriously in Christ's death.
The baptized infant rises out of the
water as a new person, cleansed of every
sin and promising the surrender of his
life to Christ, his Savior. The triple
immersion symbolizes the three days
our Lord spent in His tomb as well as
the Holy Trinity - "The servant
of God - is baptized in the name of
the Father and the Son and the Holy
WATER - The water is used for cleansing.
Through this sacrament Christ cleanses
us from original and personal sin. Our
bodily eyes see the priest cleansing
the infant, however our spiritual eyes
see the High Priest (Jesus) touching
the child baptizing him in the name
NAKED INFANT - The child is baptized
naked, as it comes from the womb of
his mother, so he emerges from the womb
of God - the baptismal font. The removal
of the child's clothing signifies the
old slough of sin which will be cast
off entirely through baptism. Nakedness
without shame reflects the original
state of man in Paradise, which God
created and had called good.
ANOINTING WITH OIL - Olive oil is
blessed by the priest and applied to
the child's hands, feet ears and mouth,
in order to dedicate them to the service
of Christ. The god parents then anoint
the entire body of the child with the
oil. This originated with ancient Greek
wrestlers who anointed their body with
olive oil in order to make it difficult
for the opponents to maintain a grip
on them. In baptism the child anointed
with olive oil expresses a prayer that
with Christ's help he may be able to
elude the grip of sin.
NEW CLOTHES - The new clothes signify
the entirely new life that we receive
after we are "buried with Jesus
in His death." In the early church,
the newly baptized did not put on the
old clothing he had taken off. He put
on a new white robe, which was worn
during the services of Easter Holy Week.
Most baptisms were performed on Holy
Saturday. The white robe symbolizes
the purity of the sole cleansed from
sin, and the robe in which Christ appeared
in at the Transfiguration. St. Gregory
of Nyssa states that the white robe
which one wore after baptism symbolizes
the garment of light which was man's
before the Fall.
CANDLES - In the early church the
baptismal candle was always kept by
the one that was baptized. The baptismal
candle was brought to church on feast
days, on the anniversary of one's baptism
and at midnight Easter liturgy. If the
person was to be wed, they would light
the same candle at the wedding ceremony.
If one was to be ordained they would
light it at the ordination. When the
final hour of life approached it was
lit yet again as the soul went forth
to meet its Judgment. It was a constant
reminder for the Christian to live and
die by the light of Christ.
SACRAMENT OF CHRISMATION or CONFIRMATION
- In the Orthodox Church the Sacrament
of Confirmation is administered immediately
following the baptism. It is considered
the fulfillment of baptism. Human nature
purified by baptism is made ready to
receive the manifold gifts of the Holy
Spirit. The Greek word for Confirmation
is "chrisma", which means
anointing. Thus by this Sacrament we
are made Christians "Chrismation"
is the ordination of laity. According
to belief, everyone baptized is a lay
person ordained by a priest by this
sacrament. He receives the gift of the
Holy Spirit and becomes an ambassador
for Christ in this world.
EUCHARIST - Immediately following
the baptism the "newly enlightened"
receives the precious Body and Blood
of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion,
and in the case of an infant, is brought
to church regularly to receive the sacrament.
The new life in Christ is renewed again
and again with the Eucharist As nature
provides nourishment of the child after
birth so God provides Holy Communion
for the child's spiritual life after
CUTTING OF HAIR - After confirming
the child, the priest cuts three locks
of hair from his head. This is an expression
of gratitude for receiving God's blessings
in baptism and confirmation. Having
nothing to give in return, the gift
of his hair )a symbol of strength like
Samson) is a promise to serve God with
all his strength.
RELIGIOUS DANCE - A procession around
the baptism font by the priest and godparent
holding the child is believed to be
a reflection of the celebration of angels
dancing and expressing their joy that
a new soul has been registered in the
Book of Souls.
GOSPEL READING - "All authority
in heaven and on earth has been given
to me. Go therefore and make disciples
off all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and the Son and the
Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe
all that I have commanded You; and lo,
I am with you always, to the close of
the ages." (Matthew 28; 16-20)