Frequently Asked Questions
Orthodox Christian Baptisms
What items do I need for the christening ceremony?
You will need the following for the baptismal ceremony:
(1) large white bath towel used for drying off after the immersing.
A Godparent – or sponsor – must be:
– At least 12 years of age and a Baptized Christian.
For the parents of the child:
If the legal name of the one to be baptized is not a Christian Name of a Saint, then a baptismal name must be chosen.
How much is the baptism fee?
There can be NO charge for Baptism or any of the Churches Sacraments. Jesus said to his disciples; “”Heal the sick, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons,freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Never-the-less, there are those who desire to give gift to the monastery, we therefore suggest a Walmart Gift Card that can be used for food. The amount of your gift would of course be up to the individual and what they can afford. But again, this is optional.
What happens during the Baptism?
(1) The child is presented to the church.
(2) The child is immersed in the baptismal font three times, symbolizing the three days Christ spent in the tomb. This event is a reenactment of Christ’s baptism, death and Resurrection.
(3) If a Baby, after immersion, the priest places the Baptized in the open arms of the Godparent, who holds a new white sheet as a symbol of the soul’s purity.
(4) Immediately following the baptism in the font, the priest administers a second sacrament: Chrismation, where the Baptized receives the gift of the Holy Spirit.
(5) The reading of scriptures takes place and the priest administers a third and final sacrament, Communion.
How long is an Orthodox baptism?
The actual baptism lasts about 30-45 minutes.
Does the baby’s head get submerged into the water when baptized?
No, generally the baby’s head is not immersed into the baptismal font. While each priest might have a different style, traditionally, the baby is held under the arms by the priest and lowered into the font . The font contains about 6-10 inches of water. The baby will likely be submerged up until his or her belly. The priest then, holding the baby with one hand under the arm, uses the other hand and scoops water from the font with his hand and pours it over the head over the head of the baby.
Who can hold the baby during the baptism?
The baby may be held by anyone during the baptism – but usually the priest.
Who signs the Ecclesiastical Baptismal Certificate?
The certificate is signed at the end of the baptismal ceremony by the priest who then may present the certificate to the Godparent for signing as a witness.
What is the Godparent’s responsibility after the baptism?
The Godparent is the one who usually obtains a baptismal cross to be given to the child after baptism and should nurture the newly baptized child into the Christian faith. This can be done through regular attendance at worship services, teaching your Godchild about the Christian faith, and encouraging the child/adult to participate in religious education and functions.
It is however customary for the Godparent to bring their Godchild to Holy Communion for three consecutive Sundays after baptism. This is done in order to form the habit of frequent communion for the child.
The Godparent should remember their Godchild at holidays, birthdays and on his or her name day.
What is the reason we use olive oil in a baptism?
Olive oil – and not vegetable or other oil – is used to anoint the baptized individual into the Christian faith. The reason Christians use olive oil is biblical and dates back to the time of Noah.
At what age should a person be baptized?
Ideally in a baptism, a child should be baptized between 4 and 12 months. The sooner the better so that they can participate in the life of the Church and take Communion.
There is no age limit on when a child or adult can be baptized. The Orthodox church welcomes anyone into the church at any age. The ceremony of the dunking will be adjusted based on the age of the child or adult so that it is appropriate.
Why is a baptism done?
The sacrament of baptism and Chrismation brings great happiness to any Christian family as, once baptized, they can begin life in the Christian faith.
Can an adult or child be baptized twice?
No, a person may not be baptized twice. Baptism is a sacrament and can only be done once. The Bible says; “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Once baptized, the individual is part of the Christian faith and a second baptism is not able to be performed. A priest in a different parish from the original baptizing parish would not be able to perform a baptism if the person is already a member of the Christian faith.
What are the non-permissible dates of the calendar year to hold a baptism?
Baptisms may not be conducted on the following days unless it is absolutely necessary and permission is obtained from the Bishop:
1. December 25th – January 6th
2. Holy Week
3. Major Feast Days
What is the difference between an Orthodox baptism and a Roman Catholic baptism?
The nature of the baptism is the same for both the Roman Catholics as the Orthodox baptism: It is the cleansing of sin from the baptized individual and the beginning of membership into the Church. Both religions recognize baptism as a Sacrament. Both churches conduct a Trinitarian baptism – or acknowledge the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both churches pledge the baptized individual to the Service of God forever.
Some of the differences between an Orthodox and a Roman Catholic baptism include:
- The Orthodox church conducts deep water triple immersion baptism. The Roman Catholic church pours water..
- The Godparents are obligated by the church to care for the raising of the child should the parents perish, at least with regard to his or her religious education. Godparents are considered to be second parents to the baptized individual in the Orthodox church.
- The Sacrament of Chrismation is the equivalent of the Sacrament of Confirmation – the giving of the Holy Spirit. In the Roman Catholic Church, Confirmation is separate from the Baptism – given to those 7 or older – and is performed by a Bishop. In the Orthodox Church a priest performs the Sacrament of Baptism followed by the Sacrament of Confirmation—the first Communion, in the same service.
Can my child have a non-Christian name and be baptized in the Orthodox church? What is the practical implication of choosing the baptized name when it is different than the child’s legal name?
A person must be baptized with the name of a Christian Saint, however this name does not need to be the person’s given birth name. A person can have two names – the baptized name and the non-baptized (birth certificate) name. The baptized name needs to be the Name of a Saint. For example, a person named Scott Christopher can not be baptized as Scott. But, he can be baptized as Christopher. Thus, this person’s middle name can serve as the baptismal name.
Jesus commanded His Apostles to.”go and make disciples of all nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 12:19). A Christian denomination that baptizes only in the name of Jesus contradicts the command of Jesus.