THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY BAPTISM
The purpose of this document is to familiarise you with the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and to help you understand some of the basic tenets of the Orthodox faith concerning this Sacrament.
The Mysteries, the word used by the Orthodox Church for Sacraments, are the living waters of the life-giving Holy Spirit, which are watering and rendering fertile the land of the Living, that is the Church. Without partaking of the Sacraments we are depriving ourselves from our life-line, our participation in the life of the Church. Without Sacraments we cease being Christian.
The Sacrament of Confession reconciles us to God through a conscious act of repentance; it is a tangible sign that we want to change the course of our life, and that we realize that unless we change the way we do certain things we will continue to live in the absence of God and in the presence only of our self centered being.
If confession reconnects us with what we have lost from our life through our sins, that is, God, the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist is restoring the presence of God in our life, in a concrete, organic manner, through His Life that is entering into our very being through the consecrated Bread and Wine changed during the Divine Liturgy into His Body and Blood. This is the Sacrament that unites us to Christ by making us receptacles of His Life; thus, our body and whole being becomes a Holy Temple of His Life.
The Sacrament of Baptism integrates us as members of Christ’s Head, so that we, as members, and He as the Head of the Church may form together the living Body of the Church.
The Godmother or Godfather represents, for the one who is to be baptized, the Church. They are the ones who are introducing the candidate to the life of the Church. It is for this reason that they must be Orthodox. How is it possible for someone who is not a member of the Living Body of Christ, to introduce a new member into that Body?
The Godparents must respect the rules of the Church of which they are members. It is for this reason that the Church cannot accept as Godparents those who have contracted a marriage outside the tenets of the Church, such as civil marriage, or those who have been married to non Christian partners outside the Church. Nevertheless, the Church accepts as Godparents those Orthodox who have been married in an Orthodox Church to non Orthodox Christians, be they Catholic or Anglican, or any other denomination which is acceptable to the Orthodox Church.
– To process an application for Baptism the Church needs the following documents from the candidate:
– Birth certificate of the candidate for Baptism
– Marriage certificate of the parents of the candidate.
– Marriage certificate of the Godparent in case he or she is married, and a Baptism certificate if he or she is not married.
For someone to be able to take part in an Orthodox Sacrament, he or she must be a member of the Orthodox Church and of the Greek Community. It is evident that in order for the Community to be able to maintain the Church as well as the persons who are responsible for providing various services, the members must pay their dues to the Community. It is for this reason that the Community has established an amount for what it offers.
For the Sacrament of Baptism your financial obligations to the Community are as follows:
May we remind you not to neglect to give an offering to the sexton and the chanter. They work hard to offer you a memorable service without being remunerated additionally for their effort; with whatsoever amount you may want to thank them, do it with joy and gratefulness. You are kindly requested to pay these dues 2 weeks before the sacrament of baptism
The white clothes that the neophyte wears symbolize the radiant glory of God that is poured forth by Christ on him or her who received Him as a radiant tunic on his\her body; the candle also is the light that guides the neophyte to the illuminated regions of God’s light, and leads him to the gift of love that is granted to him as a “seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”.
The newly baptized person’s family offers to the Church the gifts of bread, wine and olive oil, as well as incense that will be used by the priest in the Divine Liturgy for the life, health, salvation, peace and divine visitation of the neophyte.