Becoming an Orthodox Christian
BECOMING AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN
The decision to become an Orthodox Christian should be made with great prayer and discernment. When making this decision, an appointment should be made to meet with Father Jason. At this first meeting, it will be determined whether you will be received into the Church through Baptism and Chrismation; or, through Chrismation only.
Regular Church attendance is mandatory for anyone desiring to become a member of the Church. Meetings for religious instruction (catechesis) will be scheduled, and you will be given material to study which will complement the guidance given by Father Jason.
Give careful consideration should be given to whom you will ask to become your sponsor (God-parent). This person must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with a canonical Orthodox Church. If the sponsor is from another parish, he/she must provide a letter from his/her parish priest.
The date of your Baptism/Chrismation needs to be set as soon as possible. At this point you will be informed by the priest of what items will be necessary to prepare for this sacred event.
Please remember that once you have been received in the Orthodox Church that you will no longer be permitted to participate in sacraments of other religious denominations.
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE BIRTH OF A BABY
Call the priest immediately! The priest must be informed as there are specific prayers that are read on the day of birth, as well as on the eighth day, and 40th days. The prayer read on the day of birth is simply a thanksgiving prayer. The prayer on the eighth day proclaims the name of the child in anticipation of Baptism (Luke 2:21). These prayers can be read either at the hospital or home, or at the same time. The important thing is that both mother and baby receive pastoral care.
As we pattern our lives after that of our Lord, we present our children to the Church on the 40th day, just as He himself was presented to the temple (Luke 2:22-40). This is when the mother and child also come to the church for the first time. The mother is prepared to once again enter the church, and to receive the sacraments. The child is also presented to God as the child is dedicated to Him in anticipation of its Baptism when he or she becomes a full member of the Church.
The mother and child do not enter the church but remain in the narthex (or cry room). The priests should always be informed in advance of the date of the 40-day blessing, as should the parish council upon arrival. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the priest will meet the family in the narthex and read the appropriate prayers with the mother and child.
The child is received in the arms of the priest. He then asks what the baptismal name of the child will be, and processes with the baby in the church for the first time. The parents follow the priest to the icon of the panagia.
After the 40-day blessing, it’s recommended that the parents schedule the date of Baptism. Spiritual birth is even more of a priority than physical birth. Please do not delay baptizing your child.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father andof the Son and of the Holy Spirit…" (Matthew 28:19).
Baptism is the greatest of sacraments. Without it we will not be born again (John 3:5-7). Baptism not only washes away the stain of original sin, but regenerates and restores the image of God within us so that we may live a new life in Christ. Also, without baptism, we cannot partake of the other sacraments in the Church.
The mystery of Baptism is our own personal Paschal experience, where we participate in the death and resurrection of Christ. It is where we die with Christ by descending into the font, and we rise again with Him through our emergence.
The Baptismal Font is both a "Tomb” and a “Womb” of the Church. It is a "tomb" in the sense that we die with Christ in order to live with Him. And, it is the "womb" because in it, we are reborn through the Holy Spirit. We are also appointed a guardian angel over the soul of the one being baptized.
After Baptism, the newly baptized is immediately Chrismated with the Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. This gives him/her the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit Himself through His presence in the Holy Chrism. It is the child's personal receiving of the Holy Spirit – a personal Pentecost!
Tonsuring also takes place (i.e. the cutting of hair) in the sign of the Cross. A white outfit symbolizing purity is given to us. If the baptized is an infant, we call this the “onesie of righteousness!” A baptismal candle is given proclaiming that Christ is the light of this child's life. Finally, the baptized receives his/her first Communion. Unlike other Christian denominations, a baptized Orthodox Christian becomes a full member of the Church immediately through Baptism, Chrismation and Holy Communion.
PLANNING A BAPTISM AT KIMISIS
The date of the Baptism must be made with the priests through our church office. It is recommended that infants be baptized after the 40-day Blessing and within six months of birth. This beneficial for a number of reasons to include the comfort of the child.
For families who are participating as stewards at Kimisis, the expenses that are associated with the service are covered by stewardship. In other words, if you are current in your financial pledge to Kimisis, and involved in the life of the parish - no payment is necessary.
Stewards of Kimisis are never obligate to make payments to the church for a sacrament. However, please remember that there are always expenses that are incurred by the parish that must be offset such as: day to day utilities and costs associated with the clergy, chanters, and those who help maintain our facilities. For example, the church must be cleaned after the service. This fee is $100. Chanters are also typically paid $150. And, although it is not necessary to pay the priest, it is a nice gesture, and it is typically more than one would pay the chanter.
For families who are not stewards, we ask that a minimum contribution of $750 be given to Kimisis prior to the service. This amount contributes to expenses that are associated with our facilities, clergy, and other human resources. Exceptions can be made on a case by case basis, and must be approved by Father Jason before the sacrament can proceed.
The following is required before a baptism takes place in the Orthodox Church:
- The baptismal name of your child must be of Christian origin.
- Parents and godparents must meet with Father Jason prior to the baptism, so that the appropriate paperwork can be filled out, and that he can explain the sacrament and address any concerns that the parents might have.
- Sponsor(s) must be in good standing in a canonical jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church. This can be verified at the Church office. If they are not stewards at Kimisis, a letter from their home parish must be sent to our church office in advance of the sacrament.
- Baptismal Cross
- Olive Oil
- Large white towel or sheet for after baptism
- A small hand towel
- A bar of white soap
- White clothing to dress the child in (to include undergarments i.e. a white “onesie”)
- The only people who are allowed near the font are clergy, sponsors, parents, and people who are helping with the baptism.
- Photographers should check with the priest before they begin.
- Children are encouraged to circle around font at “Osoi eis xpistov…”
- Parents are encouraged to be present with the sponsors! This can be a stressful day for the baby. The baby will likely need mom there.
The sponsors need help! Make sure you designate someone to help dress the baby, etc. after the priest has baptized, chrismated and tonsured and baby.
AFTER THE BAPTISM
Three days after the Baptism the child should be bathed in a tub. The water from this tub must not go in any drain but poured around the foundations of the home or in an area where no one would walk. Care must be taken with the towels and sheets that were used during the Baptism. These must be rinsed in a tub before conventional washing. The water should be disposed of in the same manner mentioned above. If you have any questions, ask your priest about how to wash any clothing that has touched and substance that has been blessed. When in doubt, treat everything with respect.
The newly baptized should also be brought to church for the next three Sundays in its baptismal outfit and candle by the godparents and/or parents to receive Holy Communion. Like all Christians, the newly baptized must attend church regularly.
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 fasting, such as Great Lent, the Dormition Fast and during 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.