Infant Blessing (Saranta)
New born infants are brought to the church to be blessed on the eighth and fortieth day. The eighth day blessing is related to the feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, when he, according to the Jewish law, was circumcised and received the name Emmanuel. This feast is celebrated in our Church on the 1st of January, eight days after Christmas, and it is after this event that we are offering prayers for the new born infant.
The fortieth day blessing is also related to the blessing that our Lord Jesus Christ received when he was brought to the Temple and blessed by the elder Symeon, who, having recognized in the person of the infant Emmanuel the realization of the promise made to Israel about the coming of the Messiah, and the final fulfillment of its hopes for salvation, uttered the prayerful words: “Now let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen Your salvation”, and for this reason, having foretold the coming of the Messiah, is recognized by the Church as a prophet.
It is customary for the mother and the child not to go out during these first forty days of the infant’s life but for urgent matters, and their introduction into the Church is considered as their re-entry into the world and their sacramental reintegration into the life of the Church.
The prayers that are pronounced emphasize this sanctification in their lives, since the mother is blessed in these prayers to receive communion. This is why we encourage all mothers to receive this blessing during the liturgy and to receive also communion as a sign of their being reintegrated in the life of our Lord, following the trying time of their pregnancy.
The mother with her child should be in church by 9:45 a. m. on Sunday, at the end of the Matins, right before the beginning of Liturgy, and the priest will come at the Entrance of the church to bless them both.
The forty days signify, as in so many other instances in the life of the Church (the forty days commemoration of the departed, the forty day fast in Lent), our passage through various.