My baby boys baptism - St. George Greek Orthodox Church
The ceremony was held at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, the church my husband has attended his entire life, the church we were married in. The ceremony was beautiful and meaningful. A full explanation of a Christian Orthodox Baptism can be found HERE.
Holy Baptism is the first of seven Sacraments in the Orthodox Christian Church. Nothing shows the nature of God's grace more than infant baptism.
A brief explanation of the ceremony
The sponsor or godparent
The godparent promises to see to it that the child is raised and educated in the Orthodox Christian faith. For this reason, it is important that godparents be chosen not for social reasons, but because they are persons who love God and His Church. Sponsors must be Orthodox Christians in good standing with the Church, otherwise they will not be able to bring up the child in a faith that is not theirs.
The first act of the Baptismal service begins in the narthex (entrance) of the church. This is to show that the one being received is not yet a member of the Church. The purpose of Baptism is to bring him into the Church. To enter into the temple of God is to be with Christ, to become a member of His body. The Priest then calls upon the sponsor to renounce the devil and all his works on behalf of the child,
The sign of the Cross
The priest then makes the sign of the cross on the child's body. This is repeated often during the service. Essentially the cross is the sign of victory which puts the devil to flight. In the old days slaves were branded, as are animals today, to show to what master they belonged. Today the sign of the cross brands us as belonging to Christ.
The godparent is then asked to confess faith in Christ in behalf of the infant and reads the confession of faith contained in the Nicene Creed. The Creed was a symbol or sign of recognition among the early Christians; it was like a password that distinguished the true members of God's family. By reading the Creed the godparent confesses the true faith that will be passed on to the infant in time.
From the moment the child is received into the Church emphasis is placed on his individuality. He is given his own particular name by which he shall be distinguished from every other child of God. This new name expresses also the new life in Christ received through Holy Baptism. In addition to our own individual name each person receives the name "Christian" at Baptism. From that moment on we bear the name of Christ.
However dark may be the night that surrounds us, Baptism remains the sacrament of entrance into light. It opens the eyes of the soul to see Christ, the light; of the world (John 1:19) It makes us sons of light (1 Thess. 5:5). In the early Church the baptismal candle was always kept by the one baptised and brought to Church for major events in the person’s life. Even as the final hour of life approached it was lighted again as the soul went forth to meet its Judge. It was a constant reminder for the Christian to live and die by the light of Christ. Thus the candle becomes a symbol of the perseverance of the baptised soul until Christ's return.
Used for cleansing. In Baptism it expresses the fact that through this sacrament Christ cleanses us of all sins. The Priest blesses the Baptismal waters in the Font by calling on the Holy Trinity,
Anointing with oil
Olive oil is blessed by the Priest and then applied by him to the child's forehead, breast, back, hands, feet, ears, mouth, in order to dedicate them to the service of Christ. The godparent then covers the entire body of the infant with olive oil in order to express our prayer that with Christ's help the infant may be able to elude the grip of sin and the evil one.
Immersion into the Baptismal font
Priest immerses and then raises the infant up again 3 times. After the Baptism the Priest places the child in a new linen sheet held by the Godparent.
The Sacrament of Chrismation
In the Orthodox Church the Sacrament of Chrismation (known sometimes as Confirmation) is administered immediately following Baptism as in the early Church. It is considered the fulfilment of Baptism.
Following the Sacrament of Chrismation the Priest then invests the newly Baptised child in a new robe or garment
Tradition states that at this moment God assigns a guardian angel to stay with the newly-baptised person until the end of their earthly life.
The cutting of hair
The Priest cuts four locks of hair from the child's head in the form of a Cross. This is an expression of gratitude from the child, who having received an abundance of blessings through the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation and having nothing to give to God in return, offers part of its hair, as a first-offering to God. In the Old Testament, hair is seen as a symbol of strength. The child, therefore, promises to serve God with all its strength.
The Holy Eucharist
Immediately following Baptism and Chrismation the neophyte becomes a full member of the Orthodox Church. As such, the child is now entitled to receive the precious Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion (or Holy Eucharist). The new life in Christ, given in Baptism, is renewed again and again in the Eucharist. As nature provides milk for the nourishment of the infant after birth, so God provides Holy Communion for the infant immediately following Baptism in order to provide nourishment for the spiritual life the neophyte has received through Baptism.
Ceremony Photography: Tonjanika Smith
One of the first celebrations our little boy has received! I started planning his baptism back in February, shortly after his 40 day blessing. - The Forty Day Blessing takes place at the end of a regular Sunday Service and consists of prayers of joyful thanks for the safe delivery of mother and child. The service blesses the mother who has been absent from the Church for forty days and formally presents the newborn child to the Church family for the first time. - My inspiration and idea for his "theme" came from one of the most random things yet, a spring wreath I purchased and enhanced for my Studio Spring Mini Sessions. I put together the wreath because winter was finally over and we were packing up all our winter home decor. Of course our front door needed something because the house was definitely starting to look to plain and empty. At the same time I was designing my Studio Spring Mini Sessions I found these super cute and realistic looking blue butterfly garlands from a local nursery, Dragonfly Farms. I always have coupons for Jo-ann Fabrics and fell in love with the Eucalyptus garlands and spring decor they had this season so I knew I wanted to incorporate this as much as I could.
I put together a simple menu so that I could feel comfortable pulling off all of the cooking and baking myself. Of course me being me, I needed to theme even the food and wanted everything to be green and blue. So starting with a simple salad and tossed in some blueberries and put together a simple herby oil and vinegar dressing. Creamy alfredo bowtie pasta topped with buttered asparagus, fried zucchini fritters and 14lbs of filet mignon completed the menu. My cousin also bought a stuffed cabbage dish using my grandmothers recipe. Dessert took the majority of my time and attention as I took on making a two tier cake myself. Sticking with theme and as per my husband's request I chose to do a blueberry jam filling with a white cake and buttercream frosting. Because I never know when to stop I decided to top the cake with candied lemons which were surprising simple to make, more blueberries and fresh hydrangea flowers. A few weeks prior to the baptism I made Pink Lemon Donuts which came out delicious and were a huge hit with everyone who tried them so I knew they had to be a big part of the dessert table. I altered the frosting just a bit to fit the color scheme by adding blueberry and a splash of the butterfly pea flower tea simple syrup I had chilling to make the blue color really pop. I topped the donuts with Bob's Red Mill Sparkling Sugar fresh blueberries and some crushed butterfly pea flower tea leaves. To complete the dessert table we purchased macaroons from our favorite local bakery Eet Gud and my husbands grandmother made with love dozens of delicious baklava. Modern Birch Co. supplied the beautiful wooden cake topper, "God Bless" banner and cross decor.
My husband graciously allowed me to chose the floral tie I had been envisioning followed by a quick trip to Macy's where he completed his outfit with a beautiful baby blue Ralph Lauren sport coat, dress shirt and brown wingtip dress shoes. My dress was an awesome find on ModCloth, I was probably the simplest to dress! The main event, baby boys baptismal outfit was purchased months in advance from a company I found on Etsy, Raphael Jr Childrens Wear. The outfit and bow-tie worn prior to the baptism is from Little Mister.
Photography: Tonjanika Smith, myself and my aunt
Favors: Bracelets from Trendy Handi Craft
Invitations/Stationary: Lavender & Love
Orthodox Baptism set (candles, oil bottle, soap) Le Petit Elephant Shop
For the three days following the baptism the baby should not be bathed. The water from the first bath after the Baptismal Ceremony should be used to water flowers. For the three Sundays following the Baptism the baby receives communion dressed in his/her baptismal outfit.
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