Polycarp the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Smyrna; Proterios, Archbishop of Alexandria; Gorgonia the Righteous, sister of Gregory the Theologian; Damian the New Martyr of Mount Athos; Boswell, Abbot of Melrose Abbey
Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral shares your joy in anticipation of the Holy Baptism of your child. Through Baptism, your child is filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit and is brought into the fullness of life in the Holy Orthodox Church, the Body of Christ.
For instructions, forms, guidelines and more, please see the Baptismal Packet.
The service begins with initial petitions and prayers blessing the water and then the baby is anointed with pre-baptismal oil. Oil is an oft-used symbol in the Orthodox faith, representing light, reconciliation and peace. From ancient times, oil was recognized as having marvelous medicinal properties, and as such represents the healing of the stain of original sin. The priest makes the sign of the cross in the water with the oil three times and anoints the baby on its brow, chest, ears, hands, feet and back. The sponsor makes the confession of faith on the child’s behalf by reciting the Nicene Creed. The baby is immersed in water thrice in the name of the Holy Trinity, during which the entire Church “seals” each immersion with an “Amen.” After the service, the child is dressed in a post-baptismal outfit representative of its new spiritual life. For two consecutive Sundays after the Baptism, the sponsor carries the infant to the Holy Altar to receive Holy Communion.
Dear Parent (s),
Congratulations on your new baby! Na sas zisi! We are delighted to be planning your christening that you plan to baptize your child in the Holy Orthodox faith. he Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation are the first and most important steps in the life of every Orthodox Christian. We rejoice that you wish to bring your child forward to become a member of the Body of Christ and to receive life everlasting. We will share in your joy as you bring your child to church to receive communion and to grow in our faith.
These sacraments are also statements of commitment to Christ's Holy Church. We welcome you and are eager for you to become active participants in our liturgical and communal life. Nothing is more fulfilling both spiritually and personally! At Saint Nicholas, we express our commitment to Christ by participating in the Stewardship Program. While this program establishes some requirements for those who seek to baptize their children, our most important goal is to involve your family in our life in Christ.
In the Sacrament of Holy 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 Holy Tradition must be performed by triple immersion in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The sponsors must be currently practicing Orthodox Christians in good ecclesiastical standing, which includes being financial stewards of this parish (or other Orthodox parish). If from another parish, you must inform them that we must receive a Letter of Good Standing (signed and sealed by the parish priest) from the Orthodox parish they attend. It must be understood that if your sponsors are not local stewards or if we do not receive a Letter of Good Standing from another parish – they will not be allowed to participate in the christening. This will necessitate choosing alternate sponsors and could interfere with holding the christening on the planned date. So please inform your sponsors and take care of this requirement early, so that it does not become a complication to you child’s christening.
PLANNING THE CHRISTENING: You may wish to have a reception in the Saint Nicholas Fellowship Hall. If so, you must contact the Church office (734/332-8200) to ask about availability and cost. Scheduling a christening does not guarantee availability of the Fellowship Hall for your reception. Our chanter can be present, Rev. Father Nicolaos H. Kotsis will discuss this with you. The fee for his services is between you and him.
IN PREPARING YOUR INVITATIONS, be sure that they refer to the event as a christening and not a baptism. This is to distinguish between Orthodox practices as opposed to that of most other Christian denominations. In Orthodoxy we fully Christianize (the origin of the word christening) or initiate a child into the Faith through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and communion. This is in keeping with original early Christian practice. Almost all other Christians partially initiate the child into Christianity by only baptizing him or her and delaying confirmation and communion until years later.
THESE ITEMS SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO CHURCH FOR CHRISTENING:
1. A complete (including “t” shirt) white christening outfit for child.
2. A small (about 4 oz.) bottle of olive oil.
3. Gold cross. (You may wish to have child’s name engraved on back).
4. Hand-held, decorated candle (2 smaller ones may also be brought).
5. Bar of soap (optional).
6. Two white hand towels (not wash cloths).
7. Two white bath towels.
8. Twin-sized bed sheet for protection of sponsor’s clothing (optional).
9. Martyrika (witness ribbons).
10. Boubounieres (candy-covered almonds wrapped in tulle).
ON THE DAY OF THE CHRISTENING, plan to be at church a half hour before the scheduled time. This will afford the opportunity to acclimatize the godparents to their responsibilities and to lay out the child’s clothing in the changing room, which is the lounge in front of the ladies’ room near the narthex of our church. Video and still photos may be taken from a position behind the Bishop’s throne on the right side of the solea of our temple. Flash may be used when necessary. Two children from your circle of family and friends (old enough to hold lit candles safely) and preferably of the same gender as the child to be christened, should be selected to participate in the procession around the font which takes place in the middle of the service. (In lieu of children, the child’s grandmothers have been known to fill this role.) The sponsors should familiarize themselves with the Creed, which they must recite loudly and clearly as part of the service which precedes the christening.
FOLLOWING THE CHRISTENING the child must be brought to communion (preferably by a sponsor) two more consecutive times (to complete the cycle of three). If the christening takes place on a Saturday, this means bringing the child to Sunday Liturgy the next day and on the Sunday following that. The child should be brought forward in his or her white christening outfit with the christening candle lit. A child brought forward for communion should always be held with its head on your right arm. Whether you or a sponsor is bringing a child for communion, it is important to remember that you are setting an example for the child. Consequently, an adult should never (unless there is a critical reason) bring the child up for communion without receiving it along with the child.
SPECIAL WASHING is required of all clothes and towels which may have come into contact with the blessed oils used in the christening. These must all be washed by hand first and the water thrown into your back yard – not down the drain. You wouldn’t want these blessed oils being flushed into the sewerage system by your washing machine.
THE BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATE which you receive immediately following the christening is an important piece of documentation for your child. Not only will he or she need to present it to the church when it comes time for marriage, but it often proves to be an important piece of supporting documentation and identification in civil matters. Consequently, as with any important document, it should immediately be kept in a safe deposit box or similar location.
YOUR CHILD’S GOLD BAPTISMAL CROSS is an important and usually valuable symbol of your child’s initiation into the Faith. Following the christening, this too should be kept in a safe place. You may wish to purchase a less expensive cross and also have it blessed during the service for your child’s everyday use. You may then give your child his or her original baptismal cross when he or she becomes older and more responsible. Be assured that your child will someday thank you for taking this precaution.
The above information is included for the benefit of ALL families conducting a christening.
Not all information and/or instructions may apply in your particular case.
Rev. Father Nicolaos H. Kotsis welcomes any specific questions you may have. By familiarizing yourselves and your child’s sponsors with these instructions, your child’s initiation into the “army of Christ” will be smoother and more meaningful.
In order to have the baptismal certificate ready for the signature of Rev. Father Nicolaos H. Kotsis and the sponsors – you must complete and return the enclosed PDF. information sheet A.S.A.P. (fill out separate sheet for each child).
MAIL OR FAX (734/332-8201) THIS FORM A.S.A.P. TO:
Rev. Father Nicolaos H. Kotsis
Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
3109 Scio Church Road
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103