Thoughts on the Holy Mystery

A Summary of the Baptism Service

Miscellaneous Scriptures and Commentary of the Holy Fathers 

Concerning the Mystery

An Entry into the Church	3

The Gift of the Holy Spirit	3

Baptisms are public events	4

I believe in one baptism	4

Chrismation and special circumstances	5

A Proper form and belief	5

The Proper form	5

The Proper Belief	5

Baptism is a beginning	6

The arena of life	6

Short Bibliography	7

Preparation for baptism in the church	8

Naming of the child (if an infant)	9

Making of a catechumen and exorcisms	9

Baptism and Chrismation Service	9

Churching of the newly illumined child	11

Sermon	11

Greeting of the newly illumined.	11

Miscellaneous Holy Scriptures pertaining to Baptism	12

From the Scriptures and the Fathers	14

How to Baptize	14

Baptism is Necessary in order to live a Holy Life	16

Holy Baptism

Page 19 of 21

An Entry into the Church

Baptism is the entry into the Holy Church. It was commanded by our
Savior, and has always been understood to be the entry of a believer
into the Christian Life in the Holy Church: ?Go ye therefore, and teach
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I
have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of
the world. Amen.¦ (St. Matthew 28:19-20). 

Baptism is not only the entry for the believer into the church; it also
washes him clean of all sins prior to his holy baptism, no matter how
grievous and frequent they were. Here he must remember the admonition
the Lord gave to the paralytic, whom He healed of not only his physical
infirmity, but of his sins also: ?Behold, thou art made whole: sin no
more, lest a worse thing come unto thee¦ (St. John 5:14). We believe
this because baptism is a complete rebirth, where the old man, with his
sinful inclinations, dies, and is reborn in the Spirit. Our Lord said:
?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.¦ (John 3:5).
Therefore, baptism is necessary for our salvation.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Chrismation is the imparting of the gift of the Holy Spirit unto the
newly-baptized believer. Christians are ?temples of the Holy Spirit¦,
and this sacrament bestows the Holy Spirit upon them. The Christian must
always remember St. Paul-s admonition: ?know ye not that your body is
the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and
ye are not your own?¦ (1 Cor 6:19). 

After a person is baptized and chrismated, all his sins are remitted,
and he is illumined with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to
enable him to embark upon the life in Christ within the ark of the Holy
Church. This is also the case for infants, who are also empowered to
live a Christian life.  The grace of baptism, especially if it is
nurtured by strong faith and piety in the household, will operate
invisibly in such little ones, and strengthen them so that when they
acquire reasoning powers, they will choose the Christian way of life. 

Baptisms are public events

Baptisms should be public, before the entire local parish, so that all
the Christians can pray for the ones to be illumined, and may listen
again to the vows that are made, remembering their own vows. It is good
for every Christian to examine himself during this time, to see whether
he be ?in Christ¦ or not, that is, whether he has kept the vows of his

I believe in one baptism

?I believe in one baptism¦ is said by every Christian every day when he
recites the Symbol of Faith (the Creed). Since there is only one church,
there is only one baptism. Nothing outside the church, even if it
resembles Christian baptism, is true baptism.  This is why those
desiring to become Orthodox Christians who come from another belief,
even one that has a baptismal rite, should be baptized. Certain
innovators have begun to accept people into Orthodoxy by chrismation
only, and espouse an ecumenical rhetoric which accepts their baptismal
rite outside the church as fully Christian in every way. They have made
up a service for this, as there is no separate service for chrismation -
it is part of the baptismal rite. Any chrismation service written in our
modern days and intended for those who desire to enter Holy Orthodoxy is
an innovation, and was unknown by the Holy Fathers of the Church.  

Chrismation and special circumstances

Chrismation, since it is the imparting of the gift of the Holy Spirit,
may be repeated under extreme conditions. We believe that the Holy
Spirit flees from an Orthodox Christian when he falls into apostasy, or
idol worship. When he repents and comes back to the Holy Church, he is
often, according to the discretion of the bishop, accepted back by
chrismation, which again imparts the gift of the Holy Spirit back to
him. There is a special service in our Trebnic (?Book of Needs¦, which
the priest uses for special services such as marriage, burial, baptism,
various blessings, etc.) for the chrismation of formerly apostate
Orthodox. This service is certainly not the one used by certain Orthodox
when they chrismate people they incorrectly say ?are already baptized¦,
as it is a very compunctionate service, and assumes that the person
being chrismated is an apostate Orthodox, desiring to repent and enter
back into the life in the church.

A Proper Form and Belief 

The Proper Form

There is a proper form and belief concerning baptism. As regards the
form, we have received from the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers and the
entire mind of the church that we always baptize by immersing three
times in water, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is
no other acceptable form, and in particular, sprinkling is absolutely
forbidden, and is uncanonical. The only time a person may be sprinkled
is in case of extreme emergency, such as when they are bedridden with a
fatal disease. 

The Proper Belief

The proper belief concerning baptism is that it is the entry of the
believer into the only, one, true, Holy and Apostolic church, and it is
also a promise on the part of the believer that he will be obedient to
the teaching of the church, and try to live as a Christian. Only after
baptism and chrismation may a person be truly called a Christian, since
Christianity is not only belief, but also is the organic joining of the
believer to the body of Christ, and baptism effects this joining. One
must desire to live the Christian life after baptism; otherwise, his
baptism will not be a blessing for him, but will be a dreadful reminder
to him that he did not obey Christ, when he is judged in the Great
Judgment at the end of the age. It will be a terrible spectacle when
many baptized Orthodox who did not bother to live the life in Christ,
for ?Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me,
ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his
angels:¦ (St. Matthew 25:41), and when asked of them why, He will reply:
?Verily I say unto you, I know you not.¦ (St. Matthew 25:12)

Baptism is a Beginning

Baptism is a beginning, and an entry into the church. It is necessary
for salvation. Equally necessary is obedience to Christ after Holy
Baptism, and living life according to the Holy Spirit-inspired teaching
of the Holy Church. Without this obedience, and effort on the part of a
believer, he will not be saved, regardless of his baptism. The Christian
is running a race, which is the whole of his life, and he that ?endureth
to the end shall be saved. (St. Matthew 10:22).

The Arena of Life

From the day of our baptism, we embark on a life or death struggle in
the ?arena¦, as some of the Fathers have called the world in which we
live. Our only goal must be the salvation of our souls, as this is the
purpose of our life on the earth. The Holy Church teaches us everything
we need to know, and here we find the Most Holy Trinity, and work out
the salvation of our souls, with ?fear and trembling¦. 

In any struggle, there are victories and setbacks, moments of great joy,
and times of overwhelming sadness. So it is with the Christian life. We
must pray, and keep the fasts, and attend the Holy Services, considering
them to be more important that our jobs, and as necessary as the air we
breath. We must try to learn God-s Holy Commandments, and follow them.
When we fall down, we always have repentance, and Holy Confession. We
have the Holy Mysteries, Jesus Christ-s very Body and Blood to nourish
us, as we struggle to acquire the mind of Christ and be worthy of the
baptismal garment we have been given. May God preserve us and help us in
this holy endeavor, by the prayers of His most pure mother, and all the

Short Bibliography

For more about baptism and chrismation, see:

 T	The Holy Scriptures, especially the Gospels, Acts and Romans, Chapter

 T	The Didache

 T	The Law of God, Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy, Pp. 471-474

 T	Our Orthodox Faith, Athanasios S. Frangopoulos, Pp. 206-211

Holy Baptism

UPreparation for Baptism in the Church

Preparation for Baptism in the Church 

In the middle of the Church or another place, set up: 

 T	Baptismal Font with lukewarm water

 T	If indoors, under the Font, place a plastic sheet, and towels 

 T	To the right of the Font, set on a table with a cloth cover:

 T	Two Candle Sticks

 T	The Holy Gospel Book

 T	Holy Chrism

 T	Anointing Oil (the "oil of gladness") in a bottle (to be blessed
during the service)

 T	Anointing brush (for the chrismation)

 T	Sponge in a bowl of water.

 T	Baptismal Candle(s)

 T	Baptismal cross(es) 

 T	Tonsuring scissors on a small plate

 T	Close at hand should be: 

 T	Towels

 T	Baptismal Garment

 T	Soap (for the priest to wash his hands)

Holy Baptism

Order of the Service

Naming of the child (if an infant)

 T	This is normally done on the eighth day after birth. If necessary, it
may be done immediately before the exorcism service.

Making of a catechumen and exorcisms

 T	The person(s) who desire illumination and the sponsors stand at the
entrance to the church, facing east.

 T	Prayer for those who wish to be illumined. 

 T	Four exorcism prayers.

 T	Questioning of those who wish to be illumined, with the renouncing of
Satan and the reciting of the Symbol of Faith (three times)

 T	Prayer for the professed catechumens. 

Baptism and Chrismation Service

 T	Censing of the font occurs immediately before the service.

 T	Blessing - ?Blessed is the Kingdom...¦

 T	Great Litany with prayers for the blessing of the water and the
person(s) who desire illumination. 

 T	Prayers and blessing of the baptismal water. 

 T	Prayers and blessing of the oil of anointing (oil of gladness).

 T	Anointing with the oil of gladness.

 T	Face

 T	Breast 

 T	Upper back

 T	Hands

 T	Feet

 T	Baptism 

 T	Robing of the newly-baptized in the baptismal garment (during the
singing of Psalm 31)

 T	Prayer for the newly baptized. 

 T	Chrismation of the newly-baptized. ?The seal of the gift of the Holy

 T	Anointing of the: 

 T	brow

 T	eyes

 T	nostrils

 T	lips

 T	ears

 T	hands 

 T	feet

 T	Procession of the newly-illumined and sponsors around the font (3
times) while ?As many have been baptized¦ is sung.

 T	Prokeimenon

 T	Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Romans (6:3-11)

 T	Alleluia (sung 3 times) 

 T	Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew  (28:16-20)

 T	Ectenia

 T	Ablution (washing of the newly-illumined)

 T	Tonsure

 T	Fervent Ectenia

Churching of the newly-illumined child


 Greeting of the newly-illumined. 

Holy Baptism

Miscellaneous Holy Scriptures Pertaining to Baptism

Miscellaneous Holy Scriptures Pertaining to Baptism

(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

(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 all.

(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 life.

Holy Baptism

From the Scriptures and the Fathers

From the Scriptures and the Fathers

How to Baptize

We are commanded to baptize by threefold immersion in water, in the name
of the Holy Trinity. The Scriptures and the writings of the church
affirm this.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the
Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of  the Holy Spirit, teaching
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. (Matt.

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)

I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God
when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem
to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as are persuaded
and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able
to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with
fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and
fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and
are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves
regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the
universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they
then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, "Except ye be
born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Now, that it
is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their
mothers' wombs, is manifest to all. And how those who have sinned and
repent shall escape their sins, is declared by Esaias the prophet, as I
wrote above; he thus speaks: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the
evil of your doings from your souls; learn to do well; judge the
fatherless, and plead for the widow: and come and let us reason
together, saith the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will
make them white like wool; and though they be as crimson, I will make
them white as snow. But if ye refuse and rebel, the sword shall devour
you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." ( St Justin Martyr,
First Apology, Chapter LXI) 

Baptism is Necessary in order to live a Holy Life

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)

In Baptism are completed the articles of our covenant with God; burial
and death, resurrection and life; and these take place all at once.  For
when we plunge our heads down in the water, the old man is buried in a
tomb below, and wholly sunk for ever; then, as we raise them again, the
new man rises in his place.  As it is easy for us to dip and to lift our
heads again, so it is easy for God to bury the old man, and to show
forth the new.  And this is done  thrice, that you may learn that the
power of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit fulfils all this. 
To show that what we say is no conjecture, hear Paul saying, "We were
buried with Him by Baptism into death"; and again, "Our old man was
crucified with Him"; and again, "We have been planted together in the
likeness of His death."   And not only is Baptism called a "cross," but
the Cross is called Baptism.  "With the Baptism," says Christ, "that I  
am baptized with, shall ye be baptized"; and "I have a Baptism to be
baptized with, which ye know not." For as we easily dip and lift our
heads again, so He also easily died and rose again when He willed; or
rather, much more easily, though He tarried the three days for the
dispensation of a certain mystery.

St John Chrysostom, Homilies on St. John

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 David'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. Ibid.

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.

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

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
progress. 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 make
learn the greatness of the gift. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal

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 in to 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.

Holy Baptism

This tract is a publication of  St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas
Texas. Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all
contact information are included.  I would appreciate being contacted if
any large-scale use of this text is desired. All unsigned or
unattributed portions L 1998 Fr Seraphim Holland. All rights reserved

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