Baptism of Sven Fulanchek

May 10/23 1999

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

Dallas Texas

7th Sunday of Pascha 

The Sunday after the Holy Ascension

The Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council

Parents: Jason and Pelagia Fulanchek

Sponsors: Reader John and Mary Wilder 

Celebrant: Priest Seraphim Holland 


This is a day of great joy, not only for Jason and Pelagia, and John and
Mary, but also for our entire community.  We have in our midst a newly
chosen warrior of Christ, the newly illumined child Sven.    Sven is a
Nordic form of "Stephen", and the lad's patron and protector is St
Stephen the Protodeacon and first Martyr. May God grant that he would
have the purity,  and tenacity  and courage of his protector and
intercessor before the throne of God. 

Baptism is the beginning.  Baptism is the beginning of a new life, of an
enriched life, of life the way God intended our life to be.  It begins
sometimes with a little bit of pain, a little bit of tears, a little bit
of crying.  I have noticed that infants generally cry during the
chrismation.  They don't have time to cry in the water.  They cry a few
tears after, but those tears dry, and the water from the baptism dries,
and the chrism is absorbed into the skin, but the Holy Spirit remains,
and makes His abode in the child.  The Holy Spirit will never leave, if
we live as God intended us to live.  

I admonish both you who are the parents, Jason and Pelagia, and also you
who have taken on the weighty task of being the Godparents, John and
Mary: you must keep a careful watch over this child now.  In so doing,
you must first keep a careful watch over yourselves, because it is an
immutable spiritual principle that you cannot impart to your child
purity and righteousness if you do not experience it yourselves. A child
is pure, but can easily learn impurity.  We adults know too well about
evil in the world, and we would like to save our children from it as
much as we can.  We must do this through prayer, and dedication to their
welfare and benefit.  I tell you, it is absolutely necessary that Sven,
and all children, grow up in a spirit of piety.  You are the principle
people that God has called upon to pray for this spirit of piety to be
inculcated in Sven, and to live in this spirit, as an example to him.

Sponsors, you are required by God, and all the angels and Saints and our
community have seen you make a commitment, to remember this child, Sven,
in your prayers.  Of course, Jason and Pelagia must also remember their
children before God, and care for them; this is a requirement of them as
well.  I also tell you, our community, it is a requirement that we pray
for one another.  You sin if you do not pray for your family in the

Sven needs many things to grow.  What do children need?  They need food,
care, supervision, discipline.  Sometime they need admonishment and even
punishment.  They also need the example of their parents.  The food is
the body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, and also, all the things that
happen in the life in the church, the prayers, the fasting, our
God-inspired services and festal days, and everything else.  Children
have an innate sense of the holy.  I have observed this now for about 18
years, and I tell you, children recognize what is holy, and they are
easily attracted to it, but only when they are very young.  They do not
understand holiness in an intellectual way, but they react to what is
holy, and love what is holy.  We parents must present them all the time
with holiness, and a holy purpose for their lives.  

We must expose them to holiness in coming to the services regularly. It
is an absolute necessity that they be brought to the church every week,
and be taught to commune the Holy Mysteries with joy and reverence. 
They should also be brought to the church for the evening services and
festal days, so they do not develop a false view that "church is on
Sundays".  They must also constantly and consistently experience prayer
in the house. All of this is critically important, and will grow out of
the way we think, and the way we live, and what our purpose in life is.

Every parent wants his child to be happy, to be blessed, to have a
fulfilled life.  Every parent, whether they are Christian or not, wants
these things for their children.  Our parent, our Father who is in
heaven, also wishes what is best for us.  He has presented us with all
that is needful to obtain the best.  We as natural parents, and as
Godparents, must give our children also what is needful for them to
grow.  We must give them piety, love, steadfastness in the faith,
purpose.  The purpose of our life, and that of our children, is very
simple.  It is to save our souls, and to know Christ intimately.  This
is the destiny for all of us, if we choose it. 

Now, for Sven, we have made this beginning for him.  He is a child, and
according to the teaching of the church, children must be exposed to the
grace of baptism as soon as possible.  Now, it is the responsibility of
Jason and Pelagia particularly, and also John and Mary, as the "second
tier" as it were, to raise Sven in, as the scriptures say, "the fear and
admonition of the Lord.¦  This is a terrible responsibility, but is also
a great and wonderful privilege.  You have the opportunity to see a
child grow up to completion in Christ.  This is what every parent should
dream of.  We should also  "dream¦ this for ourselves.  

I tell you, the same things that are necessary for Sven are those things
that we need.  As you heard some of these prayers in the baptism, you
should have thought and reflected on your own life.  You should have
asked yourself, "Am I doing the things that these prayers speak of?¦ 
The prayers speak of great and mighty things.  The priest invokes the
name of God in a mighty way.  Do we live as children of a great and
mighty God, of a King, and we as His servants, or do we live outside of
the understanding of Who He is?  

We must have the fear of God in our hearts.  This is not to be afraid
that He is going to send us to Hell.  That is not what the fear of God
is.  The fear of God is the knowledge of Who He is, and because of the
knowledge of Who He is, the great and ardent desire to become changed. 
May it be so that little Sven will become truly changed.  He has started
in the right way.  Now, his life is to be lived, and to glorify God, and
to know Him.  I rejoice for you, Jason and Pelagia, and John and Mary,
for a newly chosen warrior has been born.  

Now, I tell you, you have your work cut out for you.  Pray for him. 
Pray for yourselves, and feed yourselves with a pious purpose and way of
life, so that you can feed him.  

May it be that all of us, gathered together here this morning, will be
in the Heavenly Kingdom, in the last day.  


Concerning Baptism in the Holy Fathers

Baptism does not take away our free will or freedom of choice, but gives
us the freedom no longer to be tyrannized by the devil unless we choose
to be.  After baptism it is in our power either to persist willingly in
the practice of the commandments of Christ, into Whom we were baptized,
and to advance in the path of His ordinances, or to deviate from this
straight way and to fall again into the hands of our enemy, the devil.

St Symeon the New Theologian

Whoever after baptism deliberately submits to the will of the devil and
carries out his wishes, estranges himself - to adapt John's words - from
the holy womb of baptism (cf. Ps. 58:3).  None of us can be estranged or
alienated from the nature with which we are created.  We are created
good by God - for God creates nothing evil - and we remain unchanging in
our nature and essence as created.  But we do what we choose and want,
whether good or bad, of our own free will.  Just as a knife does not
change its nature, but remains iron whether used for good or for evil,
so we, as has been said, act and do what we want without departing from
our own nature.

St Symeon the New Theologian

Are we only dying with the Master and are we only sharing in His
sadness?  Most of all, let me say that sharing the Master's death is no
sadness.  Only wait a little and you shall see yourself sharing in His
benefits.  'For if we have died with Him,' says St. Paul, `we believe
that we shall also live together with Him.'  For in baptism there are
both burial and resurrection together at the same time.  He who is
baptized puts off the old man, takes the new and rises up, `just as
Christ has arisen through the glory of the Father.'  Do you see how,
again, St. Paul calls baptism a resurrection?

St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

The gift which we have received from Jesus Christ in holy baptism is not
destroyed, but is only buried as a treasure in the ground.  And both
common sense and gratitude demand that we should take good care to
unearth this treasure and bring it to light.  This can be done in two
ways.  The gift of baptism is revealed first of all by a painstaking
fulfillment of the commandments; the more we carry these out, the more
clearly the gift shines upon us in its true splendor and brilliance. 
Secondly, it comes to light and is revealed through the continual
invocation of the Lord Jesus, or by unceasing remembrance of God, which
is one and the same thing.

St. Gregory of Sinai in The Art of Prayer.

Do not despair of whatever sins you may have committed since baptism and
find yourself in true repentance, but await God's mercy.  However many
and however great and burdensome your sins may be, with God there is
greater mercy.  Just as His majesty is, so likewise is His mercy.  Only
guard yourself from sinning henceforth, and walk according to the
aforementioned points.

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven

Holy Communion causes great progress in the life according to Christ. 
For what the external accidents of bread and wine effect in the body,
the same is effected in the immaterial soul mystically and invisibly by
the Body of Christ.  And just as bread sustains and nourishes the body,
so the Body of Christ sustains and nourishes our soul; and again, just
as we are regenerated through Holy Baptism and receive the being of
grace, in place of the being of sin which we had, so, as we are
nourished by Holy Communion, we grow in the grace of God and make

St. Macarios of Corinth, Modern Orthodox Saints, V. 2

Not only is it wonderful that He forgives us our sins, but also that He
neither uncovers them nor does He make them stand forth clearly
revealed.  Nor does He force us to come forward and publicly proclaim
our misdeeds, but He bids us to make our defense to Him alone and to
confess our sins to Him.  And yet, if any judge of a worldly tribunal
were to tell some captured highwayman or grave robber to confess his
crime and be excused from paying the penalty, this prisoner would with
all alacrity admit the truth and scorn the disgrace in his desire to go
free.  But this is not the case in baptism.  God forgives our sins and
does not force us to make a parade of them in the presence of others. 
He seeks one thing only: that he who benefits by the forgiveness may
learn the greatness of the gift.

St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

In the sacred Mysteries, then, we depict His burial and proclaim His
death.  By them we are begotten and formed and wondrously united to the
Savior, for they are the means by which, as St. Paul says, "in Him we
live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28).  Baptism confers being
and, in short, existence according to Christ.  It receives us when we
are dead and corrupted and first leads us into life.  The anointing with
chrism perfects him who has received [new] birth by infusing into him
the energy that befits such a life.  The Holy Eucharist preserves and
continues this life and health, since the Bread of life enables us to
preserve that which has been acquired and to continue in life.  It is
therefore by this Bread that we live and by the chrism that we are
moved, once we have received being from the baptismal washing.  In this
way we live in God.

St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ.

In regard to Baptism?baptize thus: After the foregoing instructions,
baptize in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit, in living water. If you have no living water, then baptize in
other water; and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have
neither, pour three times on the head, in the Name of the Father, and of
the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Before the Baptism, let the one
baptizing and the one to be baptized fast, as also any others who are
able. Command the one who is to be baptized to fast beforehand for one
or two days.

(The Didache, The Teaching Of The Twelve Apostles)

Without the power of the Spirit which our Lord gave us in Baptism for
the fulfilling of His commandments, the which is confirmed in us each
day by the taking of His Body and Blood, we cannot be purified from the
passions, and we cannot vanquish demons, and we cannot perform the works
of spiritual excellence.

(Paradise of the Fathers)

Concerning Baptism in the Holy Scriptures

(John 3:5)  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a
man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom
of God.

(Acts 8:36-38)  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain
water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to
be baptized?  {37} And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine
heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus
Christ is the Son of God. {38} And he commanded the chariot to stand
still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the
eunuch; and he baptized him.

(Acts 22:16)  And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and
wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

(Rom 6:3-4)  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus
Christ were baptized into his death? {4} Therefore we are buried with
him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the
dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness
of life.

(1 Cor 12:13)  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,
whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have
been all made to drink into one Spirit.

(Gal 3:27)  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have
put on Christ.

(Eph 4:4-6)  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in
one hope of your calling; {5} One Lord, one faith, one baptism, {6} One
God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you

(Titus 3:4-7)  But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior
toward man appeared, {5} Not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of
regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; {6} Which he shed on us
abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; {7} That being justified by
his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal

 Read about St Stephen in the Acts, Chapters 6 and 7

-   PAGE  4  -