Greek Baptism

The Greek Orthodox Church recognizes Seven Mysteries or Sacraments. They are 1. Baptism (Christening) 2. Chrismation or Confirmation, 3. Eucharist or Holy Communion, 4, Penance or Confession, 5. Holy Orders or Priesthood, 6. Holy Matrimony and 7. Holy Unction

In the service of Baptism / Christening three of the seven sacraments are administered to the candidate, they are: 1. Baptism / Christening 2. Chrismation and 3. Holy Communion.

Baptism / Christening is the sacrament in which he who is thrice immersed in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, is cleansed from all sin and is regenerated spiritually.

The sacrament itself is divided into two distinct parts. The service of the Catachumen in which the various prayers of exorcism are read by the priest, and the baptismal rite in which the catachumen is thrice immerse in sanctified water in the Name of the Holy trinity.

In the service of the Catechumen the sponsor (godparents) in behalf of the infant is asked to renounce Satan and everything connected with him. The sponsor then blows and spits three times upon the Devil. This is done facing the west for it is in this direction that the sun descends and was believed by the ancient Greeks to be the direction of the Gates of Hades. Facing the east, in which the sun rises and where Christ began his redeeming ministry, the sponsor is asked if he "unites himself to Christ" and answers in the affirmative.

The Pistevo or Creed, which is the professes belief of every Greek Orthodox Christian, is recited by the sponsor. The name, which should be a Christian one, is then given by the sponsor who has previously consulted with the parents. The infant is then prepared for the trine immersion.

The priest begins the Baptismal Rite with the words: "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit now and ever unto ages of ages. Amen."

Standing before the baptismal Font, which represents the "divine Womb" whence we receive our second birth as children of God, the priest recites the prescribed petitions and prayers necessary for the blessing and purification of the water used to cleanse the infant from the inherited original sin.

Pure olive oil is hallowed and administered to the various members of the infant's body. The priest anoints the face, chest, mouth, nose, ears, legs and feet in dedication to the service of Christ. The sponsor then anoints the entire body of the child symbolical of the Chrismation of kings and in belief that the evils of the devil will slip away.

The infant is then immersed thrice in the blessed water in the Name if the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The trine immersion signifies the crucifixion of our lord and his three day entombment. The emersion represents the glorious resurrection of our lord whereby he tramples death and granted life anew to the neophyte.

The sacrament of Chrismation is then administered to the members of the infant's body by the priest stating the words; "The seal of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Amen." This sacrament is the completion and perfection of the mystery of baptism in which the neophyte is strengthened and sealed in the gifts of the holy spirit and is dedicated to the service of Christ and his church.

The child is then tonsured, cutting the hair in the form of a cross, in the name of the Holy trinity, for the hair is the symbol of strength. This also represents the very fist offering of the new born Christian to God and his church. It is indicative of dedication, offering and sacrifice.

The neophyte is then dressed in white attire signifying the purity of the soul which has been cleansed from sin.

The Godparent is given a white candle symbolizing that Christ is the light of the world and that Christians are to live and die by the light of Christ. The spiritual parent then holds the neophyte in his arms and stands behind the Baptismal font directly opposite the priest who with censer in hand intones; "For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ . Alleluia." The procession around the Baptismal font takes place three times representative of the Holy Trinity and in remembrance of the early Christians who proceeded to the church following the Baptism of the Catachumens on the feast of the resurrection.

Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans 6:3-11 is read by the chanter followed by the reading of the Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 28:16-20 in which Christ directed the Apostles to baptize all nations in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the sacrament of Holy Communion, the precious Blood and Body of our saviour, is administered to the neophyte indicating that the child is spiritually nourished by the church. It is traditional that the newly baptized Christian receives Holy Communion on three subsequent Sundays accompanied by the godparent. When the ceremony is over, the parents kiss the hand of the godparent and receive their child and all relatives and friends wish them "Na sas Zisi" this translates to "life to him / her."

For the sacrament of Baptism (Christening) one of the godparents must be an Orthodox Christian and must bring the following items to the church.

1 small white towel
1 large white towel
1 large white oil sheet
1 set of baptismal undergarments
1 bottle of olive oil
1 bar of soap
3 white candles
1 baptismal outfit for the child
Martirika - Christening witness pins
A gold cross and chain
A baptismal box.

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