Baptismal Guidelines & Information

Saint Luke the Evangelist Greek Orthodox Church

 
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What is Holy Baptism?

Christ called Holy Baptism birth: ...unless one is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God! (Jn. 3: 5) Therefore “Holy Baptism is the beginning of life,” (St. Basil the Great) and the day of Holy Baptism is the birthday of the believer. During the Mystery of Holy Baptism, Christ gives birth to the person being baptized by the grace of the Holy Spirit. In order to show us the meaning and necessity of this Mystery for mankind, the Lord stresses that: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever disbelieves will be condemned. (Mk. 16: 16) By our rebirth from water and spirit, “the life of Christ dawns in us.” (St. Nichols Cavasilas).

The Orthodox Church has practiced infant baptism since the apostolic era, when it was a common occurrence for entire families to receive Holy Baptism. St. Hippolytus (253AD) mentions that it was a common practice during his era for infants to be baptized. St. John Chrysostom explains clearly why we baptize infants: “…we baptize even infants, although they are sinless, that they may be given the further gift of sanctification...that they may be brothers and members of Christ, and become dwelling places for the Spirit.”

Baptism makes a person a participant in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and a member of His body the Church. This is the first step in becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. The Church has a responsibility to administer the sacrament only to those who have shown that this is the primary purpose for the baptism. Read The Mystery of Holy Baptism by Hieromonk Gregorios to learn more about the sacrament.

 
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Requirements Prior to the Baptism for the parents:

Active Church Membership

Baptism is a privilege that requires a commitment on behalf of the parents to raise the child in the Orthodox Church. If parents are not active members of the Church, they must first demonstrate a desire to become active for the sacrament to be approved. Parents are the foundation of a Christian home and the primary role models for their children in living a committed life to Christ.

Commitment to Christ is clearly demonstrated in regular attendance at the services of the Church—Sunday services at a minimum—and participating in the sacramental life of the Church. Committed Orthodox Christians are also current Stewards of their local parish.

  • If you have previously baptized a child at St. Luke Orthodox Church and the child has not been attending services, a request to have another child baptized requires a discussion with the priest.

  • If parents do not regularly attend an Orthodox Church and want to schedule a baptism, an appointment should be made with the priest in order to discuss the situation.

"Good Standing" Requirements for an Orthodox Christian

  • Married in the Orthodox Church

If you were not married in the Orthodox Church, you must have a sacramental marriage service, according to the traditions of the Church, in order to be in good standing. This is not required prior to baptizing a child, however arrangements ought to be made to have a sacramental marriage.

  • A Stewardship Form must be completed for the current giving year.

  • Actively attending the divine services on Sundays.

Choosing a Sponsor or Godparent

In the Baptismal service, the Church requires a Sponsor/Godparent. The Godparent is the one who speaks for the child and the family as to the sincerity of their intention for seeking baptism. In addition, godparents serve to guide, teach, and counsel their godchildren in the Orthodox faith. The Church requires that the Godparent be an Orthodox Christian in good standing; there are no exceptions to this rule. The priest can help couples in the selection of a godparent if needed.

"Honorary" Godparents

In some cases parents request a "non-Orthodox" person serve as an "honorary godparent" for their children. The Church does not permit an honorary godparent.

Requirements to Serve as a Godparent

  • Must be an Orthodox Christian who regularly attends Church and who confesses his / her sins before a priest-confessor.

  • A registered Steward of an Orthodox Parish.

  • If married, must have been married in an Orthodox Church.

  • An unmarried person who lives with another person as though married is not permitted to serve as a godparent.

  • If married in the Orthodox Church and are now divorced, they need to obtain an Ecclesiastical Divorce Decree.

  • A parishioner may serve as a sponsor in another Parish by presenting a letter of good standing from his or her home Parish Priest.

Generally, any person who cannot fulfill the spiritual responsibilities of a godparent, is disallowed until their situation is remedied.

Godparent Customs

It is customary for the Godparent to bring their Godchild to Holy Communion on a regular basis, beginning with three consecutive Sundays after the Baptism.

Scheduling Your Baptism

If you would like to schedule a baptism for your child, parents need to schedule an appointment with Fr. Michael. Baptismal arrangements are only conducted between the priest and the child's parents. Grandparents should have their children contact the parish priest. In order to provide parents with every opportunity to understand the significance of baptizing one's child, an appointment with the parents and the priest is necessary.

Invitations

Baptismal invitations should be consistent with the seriousness of the event, and the language should be consistent with Orthodox tradition and faith and show reverence for the Mystery of Holy Baptism and an awareness of the magnitude of the event of a child’s birth in Christ.

Baptismal invitations should not be printed until the date and time for the baptism has been confirmed with Fr. Michael.

Frequently asked Questions

Naming the Child

An Orthodox Christian child receives his / her name (of a Saint) on the 8th day after birth at the Prayer of Naming. If for some reason this was not done, then a Christian name (a saint's name) must be selected so that the child has the guardianship of a Saint. Fr. Michael can assist in selecting a name.

Purchasing Baptismal Candles and Martyrika (witness crosses with ribbon)

Traditionally, the newly baptized receive a decorated candle at baptism. Some provide their guests with martyrika (witness pins) which can be personalized with the child's name and date of the baptism. Fr Michael can direct you to suitable places to obtain these items.

Length of the Baptism

The Baptism service is approximately 45 minutes long.

Honorariums

A $50.00 honorarium is required for the chanter / sexton.

An honorarium for the baptism may be offered to the priest at your discretion.

Fees

There is no fee for the celebration of the Sacrament; however, it is required that you are a current Steward of St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church. A signed pledge form along with an initial payment is required prior to the Baptism.

A $50 check / money order endorsed to the Metropolis of Chicago must be presented on the day of baptism for paperwork filing.

Dates

Days when baptisms are not permitted: Baptisms may not be performed from Christmas Day through the Feast of Theophany (December 25-January 6), during Holy Week, or on any of the Great Feastdays of the Lord.

Baptismal Checklist

The following items are either provided by the parents or the Godparents:

  • 1 baptismal Cross with chain

  • 1 new white baptismal outfit and onesie

  • 1 small bottle of olive oil

  • 1 bar of Ivory soap

  • 1 new white hand towel

  • 1 new large white bath towel

  • 1 Baptismal Candle

 
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