Orthodox Baptism Sacrament
The Sacrament of Baptism unites us into the Church, the Body of Christ. The one baptized "receives the Holy Spirit without knowing it, and Divine Grace dwells in him from then on." (St. Paisios 'Spiritual Awakening' pg 214) It is through baptism that one becomes of fully participating member of the Church. During the Sacrament, the child is immersed into the waters three times in the name of the Holy Trinity. This immersion identifies that one dies to the old ways of sin and is born to a new life in Christ. All attending the Baptism then, publicly testify to Christ's Death and glorious Resurrection.
Christ himself was baptized and sent His Apostles after His Resurrection to baptize 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." --Matt. 28:19
As it has been a custom of the early Church, Orthodoxy encourages the baptism to take place at an infant age. God expresses His great love for us by excepting us before we even know Him or love Him. From the day of their baptism, children are expected to mature in the life of the Spirit, through their family and the Church. The Baptism of adults is practiced when there was no previous baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity.
The Orthodox Baptism is as important sacrament of the Church as an Orthodox Wedding. So much care and excitement is felt when one is honored to be the Godparent and when parents are ready to baptize their child.
Responsibility as a Parent
As a parent, one needs to apply the greatest care in selecting an Orthodox Christian who will accept the responsibility of being their child's Godparent. One who will provide the proper religious education and be a good example and inspiration to his/her Godchild. Traditionally, the koumbaro from the parents wedding baptizes their first child. Also, one willing to be a child's Godparent may ask the parents permission.
A beautiful way to honor God, Theotokos, and all the Saints is to select a name of Christian origin to be given to the child at the time of baptism.
The parents typically provide the Baptism Favors (Bombonieres).
Obligations as Godparent/Sponsor (Nono or Nona)
The Child's Godfather (Nono in Greek) or Godmother (Nona in Greek) is the one who vouches for the child and the family to the sincerity of the reasons why they are seeking baptism. He/she takes on the responsibility to represent the child who is unable to make the necessary confession of Faith for himself and along with the parents and guided by the church, makes a lifetime commitment to assist and guide the baptized child through the Christian walk of life.
- The Godparent of the child must be an Orthodox Christian and in good standing of their parish as a pledged steward and attending the divine services.
- If married, must have been married in the Orthodox Church.
- If divorced, must submit proof of divorce given through the Orthodox Church.
- Brings the child to church regularly for Holy Communion especially the three consecutive Sundays following the baptism.
- Provides the necessary items for the Sacrament including the Ladopana, Candles (Lambathes), Outfit/Dress, and Witness Pins (Martyrika).
Even though most of us grow up being Orthodox, we have much to learn about our faith. Books are a great way to educate ourselves about how the teachings of Christ are related to all the traditions of the Church and traditions we have followed throughout our lives. Don't hesitate to give a book in place of a greeting card!
Preparing to Serve as a Godparent: This is an excellent guide to prepare each godparent for the Sacrament of Baptism. In it's short 8 pages, topics like 'When it All Began', and 'What is Expected of the Godparent after Baptism' are explained. Published by Light & Life and available through the Orthodox Market Place.