Three Sacraments in the Greek Christening Ceremony
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Most of us think that a Christening is centered around the baptism itself. While it is true that the baptism is an important part, there is also more to the ceremony than that. There are two other sacraments, Holy Communion and Chrismation, that occur and each of these is an important step in the life of a new Christian.
Purpose of the Christening
According to Merriam-Webster, a christening is “the ceremony of baptizing and naming the child”. Also, Merriam-Webster defines the word “christening” in a general sense as “the official ceremony in which something (such as a ship) is named”.
Note that the word “Christening” is derived from Christ, which indicates that this is the ceremony that marks an initiation into God’s Kingdom. Therefore, everything that happens during an Orthodox Christian Christening is done for the purpose of entering an individual into a relationship with God, which is why there are three Sacraments present within the ceremony.
Sacrament of Baptism
Typically, Baptism in the Greek Orthodox Church happens at infancy and is looked at as an expression of how much God loves us. Jesus commissioned baptism in Matthew when he told the Apostles to, “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
Baptism is an important sacrament in the life of a Christian. It symbolizes the death of a sinful way of life and a rebirth into a new life in Christ. Note that baptism is just the beginning of the journey. It doesn’t guarantee passage into Heaven. However, it is the first step to getting there.
Sacrament of Holy Chrismation
During the Christening, the Sacrament of Chrismation happens after the Baptism itself and like Baptism, it can only be administered once during a lifetime. The purpose of this sacrament is to receive the Holy Spirit. In doing so, the newly baptized infant receives guidance and spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit, which will allow for spiritual growth.
Various parts of the body are anointed during Chrismation. The forehead represents our thoughts. The chest signifies our heart and our desires. The eyes, ears, and lips represent the senses. The hands and feet represent good works and our spiritual walk.
Sacrament of Holy Eucharist
The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is optionally administered after the Christening itself is complete. This is the first communion for all Orthodox Christians and is administered at every Divine Liturgy service. All Orthodox Christians are welcome to receive communion at each Divine Liturgy service when the proper preparations are made.
The Christening is a new Christian’s opportunity to begin his or her spiritual walk. In the Greek Orthodox Church, the Christening is most often done in infancy. During this ceremony, three sacraments are administered. These are Baptism, Chrismation, and Holy Communion. Baptism and Chrismation are only performed once in a lifetime. Holy Communion is given at each Liturgy service. The Christening ceremony, in general, signifies the official beginning of the Christian life.
Categorized in: Greek Christening Traditions
This post was written by Greek Boston