I feel great responsibility writing a blog for my business when I’m giving information regarding the sacraments of the church and their meaning. I am certainly not educated on this subject from the Church’s point of view and feel much concern with what I’m passing on. All I know of the sacraments is the little worldly tradition I have grown up with which hopefully supports Church tradition. I will post information that I have found written in books by Saints and people with knowledge of the matter. I want to sincerely thank Fr. Georgios who has kindly allowed me to translate the writings from his blog. I have found information here that I feel comfortable to pass on. When I was baptizing my children, I only seemed to be concerned with the baptism from a wordly point of view. Who will be the godparent/sponsor, what church will the baptism take place in, where will the party be, what favors will I give out, what am I going to wear. Never did I stop and ask myself what is the meaning of this Mystery of the Church and why am I doing this for my child. Now that I’m older and wiser, (ha, ha), with my present business, I find myself having some responsibility to know the true meaning of the two sacraments of the Church that I’m representing. What is the meaning and purpose of Orthodox weddings and baptisms? With Fr. Georgios’ blessing, the help of Google translate and some information I have read in one of St. Paisios’ books, I’m passing on some information regarding Orthodox baptisms, to the best of my ability. A copy of Fr. Georgios blog post will be posted after the English translation for those that prefer to read it in Greek. The Greek version does not contain St. Paisios words.
What is the baptism
It is the only way that one enters the Church of Christ and receives the stamp that is enduring and shows that he belongs to God. The baptism is a“plantation towards eternity” (M. Athanasios pg 29,10) and “a vehicle towards the heavenly kingdom….” (M. Vasilios, pg. 31, 433). “When the child is immersed in the baptismal water by the priest during Holy Baptism, he receives the Holy Spirit without knowing it, and divine Grace dwells in him from then on.” (St. Paisios ‘Spiritual Awakening’ pg214) The Mystirion is Godsent because Christ himself got baptized and sent his Apostles after His Resurrection, to baptise saying: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” “Mat 28:19. Hense, the church baptizes each person that wants to be a member. The baptism belongs in the nonrepeated Mysteries. Also, the third dunking in the Holy Water of the baptismal font, symbolizes the three day death and Resurrection of Christ.
Why baptize at an infant age
From the third century it was established that people would be baptized at an infantile age as it is done today. And of coarse, before they were baptized as infants, the rule was that they would be baptized at an older age, so they would confess their faith. Why do we get baptized at an infant age?
1. Getting baptized at an infant age is proof how much love the Church has towards the children. The Church doesn’t want to leave them outside the pen of Christ, prey to the devil and far from the life giving grace.
2. From the bible we are informed that infants were baptized from the Church even in those Ancient years, from the first century AD. ((Πρξ.στ” 13! 5. 31-33, ιη” 8, ϊΙ-2. 24,44,47,48).
3. For all those that contend that an infant baptism violates the person’s freedom, because the child is baptized without being asked and complied, we answer with the same logic that we wouldn’t be sending them to school or giving them their immunizations, etc. Just like these actions are taken for the benefit of the child, as is the infant baptism as well.
4. Lastly the Church baptizes infants with the will and responsibility of the parents.
The Procedure of the Sacrament of Baptism
1. The sacrament begins with the catachesm in the narthex of the Church. That is where the priest reads the exorcisms. Then he asks the sponsor to renounce satan three times in account of the child and to join with Christ upon confessing the Creed. As St. Paisios also mentions in the book ‘Spiritual Awakening’ “....only when we preserve the Grace of our Holy Baptism, through which we deny Satan, are we united to Christ and receive the Holy Seal, The Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit”.
2. Following, the Sacrament of the Baptism starts in the center of the church in front of the baptismal font. Baptizing the child in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and with the third dunking in the blessed water of the font which symbolizes the three day death and resurrection of Christ.
3. The Chrismation follows and it is a separate Mystirion. With the Chrismation the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit are transferred to the child.
4. Cutting of the hair: the priest cuts some hair from the child in the shape of the cross, to dedicate to God.
5. Dressing the child: the baptismal clothes of the child are blessed and relatives or the mother dress the baby. At The baptismal font, the priest and godparents wash their hands.
6. Putting on the cross: The cross will accompany the child all his life.
7. The dismissal: The mother, after making three prostrations to the godparent recognizing their high and sacred mission and kissing his hand, takes the newly baptized child back in her arms.
A couple more words
1. The priest who baptized the child has a special spiritual relationship with it. Many priests are worthy to marry the children who they also baptised 20 years prior. Cultivate this relationship with your priest who is your child’s spiritual father.
2. Chose to baptize your child in your parish church. Don’t get distracted from vainglorious ideas and change parishes. Your church records registry of baptisms. You will gain from this when there is need.
The idea of a one stop shopping experience for all the baptismal items seemed like an awesome idea and something we wanted to offer to our customers. Therefore, we created the “Baptismal Basket”. Much thought went into what items we would include in this considering the cultural and Orthodox Church traditions.
Upon doing our search, we learned that many vendors in the U.S. import their products from Greece. It was something we looked into briefly for some of the products. Due to the hassle and expense of shipping, methods of payments required, we decided to use products we can find in the U.S. We also took into consideration what people in our area would like to see in this basket. One of our biggest challenges were the ladopana (oil clothes).
At the end we felt happy with what we chose and the baptismal basket became our signature product:
Spending a substantial amount of time across a table with your business partner while you both are working on the same candle, handling all the decorating material together, is a time to get to know them. You become a business family. You learn how to get along together, support each other, solve business problems and make big business decisions. All this can only happen with great communication, patience and understanding.
Argie’s basement was ideal for our work shop. We decided to start decorating baptismal candles first. It was fun and challenging for us as this was something neither one of us had attempted to do before. Argie and I spend hours on trying to create new designs for the candles. There were times that we doubted ourselves and wondered if future customers would be attracted to something unusual.
When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus was also baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased."