Μέγα τὸ προκείμενον βάπτισμα· αἰχμαλώτοις λύτρον· ἁμαρτημάτων ἄφεσις· θάνατος ἁμαρτίας· παλιγγενεσίας ψυχῆς· ἔνδυμα φωτεινόν· σφραγὶς ἁγία ἀκατάλυτος· ὄχημα πρὸς οὐρανόν· παραδείσου τρυφή· βασιλείας πρόξενον· υἱοθεσίας χάρισμα.
“Great indeed is the Baptism that is set before to you. It is a ransom to captives; the remission of offenses; the death of sin; the rebirth of the soul; the garment of light; the holy seal indissoluble; the chariot to heaven; the luxury of paradise; a procuring of the kingdom; the gift of adoption.”
– St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Procatechetical Sermon
In the Sacrament of Baptism a person puts to death the old human nature that is subject to sin and rises to walk in newness of life in Christ. Baptism is the way in which we are joined to Christ’s death and Resurrection and become part of His body, the Church.
Guidelines for Baptism
Guidelines for Parents:
- A Sponsor (a.k.a. Godparent, Nounos/-a) should not be just any friend or relative, but should be a faithful Orthodox Christian who can ensure that the newly baptized child will be raised in the faith.
- Both parents, if Orthodox Christians, must be Members in Good Standing and current in their Membership Dues to the Church.
- A Name of Christian origin is to be given the child at baptism. If you are unsure about a Christian name, Fr. Gregory can help you choose an appropriate patron saint for your child.
- The day, time, and other arrangements must be made by submitting the Baptismal Application (see link above) to the Church Office at least three weeks prior to the baptism. No dates are set until confirmed by the Church Office.
- Someone should be appointed to undress and dress the child.
- Two people should be appointed to carry the candles during the service.
- To insure the proper dignity and solemnity of your child’s baptism pictures should be limited as much as possible.
Guidelines for the Sponsor:
The sponsor (godfather/godmother, nounos/nouna) must:
- be an Orthodox Christian;
- be a Member in Good Standing and current with their Membership Dues to the Church;
- if married, be Married in the Orthodox Church by an Orthodox Priest;
- if divorced, must have obtained an Ecclesiastical Divorce from the Orthodox Church.
- if from another parish, present to the parish priest prior to the Baptism, a Letter from the Parish Priest stating that he/she is in good standing with the Church and that he/she is eligible to serve as a sponsor.
The sponsor should provide:
- Small Bottle of Olive Oil
- Bar of White Soap
- Unused White Handtowel
- Large, Unused White Bathtowel
- Unused White Bedsheet (Flat, Twin-size is suitable)
- Three White or Natural Beeswax Candles
- Baptismal Cross with Chain
- White Underclothes (or diaper for infants)
- White Baptismal Gown or Outfit, including White Bonnet
The role of the sponsor was originally to give assurance to the Church for the faith of the one who was to be baptized; this is still the practice in the case of adult baptism or chrismation. In the case of infant baptism, the Sponsor speaks on behalf of the child, who is unable to make the necessary confession of faith.
During the service, the Sponsor must be able to recite confidently the Nicene Creed in either Greek or English.
For three consecutive Sundays after the Baptism, the sponsor (or the parents, if the sponsor lives elsewhere) should carry the infant to the Holy Altar to receive Holy Communion.
Reception of Converts
Adults who wish to join the Orthodox Church are received in different manners depending on their previous religious background. Depending upon the specific circumstances, Fr. Gregory will determine which of the following three means of reception is necessary:
- Baptism in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by threefold immersion
- Confession of Faith
In the event an unbaptized infant is near death, a priest should be called immediately for a clinical baptism. If time is of the essence, however, and the priest is unable to arrive in time, any Orthodox lay person may baptize the infant by sprinkling Holy Water on the infant or by raising the infant up in the air three times while saying, “The Servant of God (name) is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Days on Which Baptisms May Not Be Held:
Baptisms may not be performed during the following periods:
- September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
- December 13-25 (Nativity Fast & Christmas)
- January 5-6 (Theophany)
- Great Lent & Holy Week (7 weeks before Pascha)
- Pascha & Bright Week
- Pentecost (7th Sunday after Pascha)
- August 1-15 (Dormition Fast & Feast)
- August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist)
- On any Feast Day of our Lord (e.g. Transfiguration, etc.)
- On Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the Year (Fast Days)