In the Orthodox Church we baptize new members at any age. The same was true in the early Church. All infants born into the faith are baptized as early as possible. And as a baptized Orthodox Christian the new member is entitled to full membership in and access to the sacraments of the Church. Some faiths choose to wait for the so-called “age of reason”. However, just because a baby can’t dress or feed itself doesn’t mean this won’t be decided for them. In the Orthodox Church, a baby is a full member of the Church from the beginning. In this way, going to church and being a Christian will become as familiar to them as getting dressed in the morning.
That’s not to say that no one is responsible for the decision to baptize an infant. It’s not only the job of the parents, but also the Godparents to make spiritual decisions for the baby. It is then the Godparents responsibility to make sure the child is brought up as a good Christian. There is a spiritual bond between Godparent and child as they strive to live a spiritual life together
What Happens in the service of Baptism
The service of baptism is made up of two parts.
(1) The first part prepares the person for baptism and is called the catechesis or the teaching. This part includes the making of a learner of the faith, the prayers of exorcism, reciting the Creed, the rejection of the devil, and the acceptance of Christ. This used to be done over several weeks, but now is all part of the same service.
(2) The second part is the basic service of baptism. This is the part that takes place around the baptismal font. After the priest asks for the descent of the Holy Spirit to bless the water, then the person is anointed with the “oil of gladness”. The person is then Baptized with three immerions. The newly baptized Orthodox Christian is then Chrismated in the Orthodox Church (receiving the Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit), Tonsured (giving of the firstling of their hair to God) and dressed in new white clothes as a symbol of newness, and a Clean soul free from sin. They are then given a cross and process around the Baptismal font taking their first steps as a Christian. Then the New Orthodox Christian is given communion for the first time.
St. George Greek Orthodox Church of Cape Cod
1130 Falmouth Road
Centerville MA 02632
Phone: (508) 775-3045
Fax: (508) 775-3888