All About the Christening Ceremony
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There are seven Holy Sacraments in the Greek Orthodox Church. These Sacraments exist because Orthodox Christians believe that God is part of every aspect of their lives. As Christians, they continually strive to be just like Christ, or as perfect as possible.
These special Sacrament services are tools that we, as Orthodox Christians, can take part in to help us strive to live in Christ’s image. This process is called Theosis in Greek, which means, “becoming like God”. As mortals, we understand that the stain of original sin prevents us from truly being perfect, but we are always striving.
Christening Ceremony Sacraments
During the Christening ceremony, two of these sacraments are performed – Baptism and Chrismation. Baptism cleanses our souls from the Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Chrismation gives us the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Both are vital in the spiritual life of the Orthodox Christian. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is often performed after the Baptism and Chrismation, but this is optional.
Christ established both of these sacraments when he said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This verse is part of the passage in scripture often referred to as The Great Commission.
Preparing for the Christening
When we prepare our children and ourselves for the Christening ceremony, we often go through the motions as if we are checking things off a to-do list. On the one hand, that is exactly what we need to do – make sure we have everything we need. On the other, it is important to remember that we are preparing for a solemn, spiritual ceremony.
Your priest will give you guidance about what you need to do. In the meantime, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Selecting the godparent. It is important that a godparent is selected. Only one is required. Ultimately, you will want to choose someone who can oversee your child’s spiritual upbringing.
- When to baptize. Blackout dates include December 25 – January 6, Holy Week and Easter, and any other major feast days. Other than that, discuss it with your priest.
- Items for the priest. The priest will need certain items for the ceremony including white towels, a white sheet, soap, olive oil, white candles, a white outfit for the baby to change into, and a gold cross. The godparent usually gets these items. Ask your priest for details.
There are also some “extras” that are traditions in the Greek Orthodox Church but are not required. These are the Matrika, a small cross made of ribbon worn by the guests, and the Koufeta, the candy coated almonds given as a favor. Many families also choose to hold a reception.
As you can see, the day of the Christening is a joyous occasion. The ceremony involves the sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation and it often includes the child’s first communion. Once the preparations are made, all there is left to do is enjoy the celebration!
Categorized in: Greek Christening Traditions
This post was written by Greek Boston