THE MYSTERION (SACRAMENT) OF HOLY CHRISM:
Service of Receiving by Anointing (Chrismation) non-Orthodox Christians into the Greek Orthodox Church [Taken from the Ceremonial Guide for Celebrants: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America]
It has been the practice of the Greek Orthodox Church, all along her long history, not to seek converts from among the membership of other Christian churches. If, however, a non-Orthodox Christian freely wishes to be admitted to the fold of the Greek Orthodox Church, the following procedure must be followed:
1. The priest of the parish through whom the non-Orthodox applies for admission to our Holy Church, will undertake to instruct the applicant in matters of Faith as well as in matters of practice that govern the inner life and outward behavior of the true Orthodox.
2. If the applicant has not been baptized in a Christian Church whose baptism is accepted as valid by the Orthodox Church, he will have to be Baptized and Chrismated (Confirmed) as per the procedure relating to infant baptism and prescribe in our Prayer Book.
3. An applicant who has been baptized in the Name of the Holy Trinity as, for example a Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist, Lutheran, and others, will be received into the Orthodox Church by administration of the Mysterion (Sacrament) of the Holy Chrism only as per the following ceremony.
The ceremony must take place in the Church, preferably at the end of the Divine Liturgy. The candidate, instructed and spiritually ready, presents himself/herself before the Royal Doors of the Iconostasis facing the Holy Altar, holding a white lighted candle and dressed in a black suit, or a white dress if a woman; his/her sponsor, an Orthodox man or woman in good standing with the Church, on his right, and two children of pre-adolescent age dressed in white and holding lighted candles on either side. The congregation stands.
THE DIVINE SERVICE
PRIEST: Blessed be our God, always, now and forever and ever.
PRIEST: O Heavenly King, our Comforter, the Spirit of Truth; Thou who art manifest everywhere, and the world is thus with Thy presence filled; the treasury of Goods and Goodness, and the give of life itself; come and abide with us, cleanse us from the stain of sin, and save our souls, O Good One.
CANTOR: (The Pentecost Hymn): Blessed be Thou Christ our Lord; Thou Who did the fishermen into sages turn by sending down the Holy Spirit on them and thereby did mankind capture as with a net. Glory to Thee, Merciful One.
(The candidate kneels and the priest reads on him the following prayer:)
PRIEST: Blessed be Thou, our God Almighty, the source of the goods of the earth as well as of the spirit, the Sun of Righteousness, Who has shone the Light of Salvation on those who were in darkness through the manifestation of Thy Only-begotten Son and our God; Thou Who has granted us, unworthy as we are, the blessed purification of Baptism and the Divine sanctification through the Anointing with the Life-Giving power of the Holy Spirit; Thou Who has been pleased to receive now Thy servant ....... (the Sponsor gives the name) within Thy Holy, Apostolic, and Orthodox Church; do Thou, our merciful Master and Sovereign of all creation, grant to him (her) the seal, as well, of the gift of Thy Holy, Almighty, and worshipful Spirit, and the partaking of the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Thy Christ. Keep him (her) in Thy sanctification and confirm in the Orthodox Faith; deliver him (her) form the Evil One and from his machinations; preserve his (her) soul in purity and uprightness through the saving fear of Thee, so that he (she) may please Thee by word and by deed and finally prove a favored subject and an inheritor or Thy heavenly Kingdom. For Thou are our God, a Merciful and Saving God, and to Thee we ascribe the glory, to the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever.
(The candidate stands and recites loudly and distinctly the Orthodox Creed. The priest anoints the candidate with the Holy Myrrh and imprints the sign of the Cross on the forehead, chin, cheeks, and hands, repeating with each anointing:)
PRIEST: This is the Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(After the anointing, the priest proclaims:)
PRIEST: Blessed be our God, Thou Who illumine and sanctify every man who comes into the world, now, and forever and ever.
CANTOR: Amen. Immediately following the hymn: Grant my soul a robe of light, Thou Who clothe Thyself with Light, Christ, our God of mercy.
(The priest cuts crosswise a few hairs off the neophyte's hair as a sign of the latter's induction into the army of God's people.)
PRIEST: The servant of God (name) is shorn in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
PRIEST: Peace be with you all,
CANTOR: And with thy spirit.
PRIEST: Let us bow our heads unto the Lord.
CANTOR: To Thee, O Lord.
PRIEST: He (she) who has clothed his (her) soul with Thee, the Christ our Lord, has bowed his (her) head with us unto Thee; protect him (her), we pray, and let him (her) stand undefeated against assailants and their foul attacks; let him (her) prove victorious even unto the end and worthy Thy spiritual crown. And as Thou blessed David the king by the hand of Samuel the Prophet, do Thou bless also Thy servant (name) through my sinful hand by abiding with him (her) through Thy Holy Spirit; that as he (she) increases in years and into an honorable old age, he (she) may ascribe glory unto Thee and prove able to enjoy the good things of Thy promise all during the days of his (her) life. For, to Thee are due all glory, honor, and worship, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.
PRIEST: Let us pray for the health and salvation of the servant of God (name) and for the Gift of the Holy Spirit and the inheritance of the Grace, our God, to be preserved in him (her) integral and undefiled. For Thou are, our God, the One Who illumines and sanctifies every man who comes into the world, and to Thee we ascribe the glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever.
Please note: It is a tradition in our Orthodox Church to bless and put on the newly illumined servant of God who has just been baptized or chrismated, a gold cross on a gold chain to wear for his/her entire life. If the candidate already has a cross then at the time of the chrismation the priest will bless it and after the person has venerated (kissed) the cross then either the priest or candidate will place it around his/her neck.
(The priest admonishes the neophyte as to his (her) privileges and duties as a Greek Orthodox Christian, and extends to him (her) of His Eminence the Archbishop or Metropolitan. The neophyte makes arrangements with his (her) priest to present himself (herself) to the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Confession and to subsequently receive the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ whereby he (she) becomes part of our Lord's Orthodox Mystical Body.)
Please note: A catechumen is defined as "one receiving instruction in the basic doctrines of Orthodox Christianity before admission to communicant membership in the Church.
The following are guidelines and requirements for a candidate:
1. Regular Church attendance. Worship of God is at the center of Orthodox Christian life and spirituality. Worship is not only an experience of learning but a way that God's Mystical grace is bestowed on us, touches us and transforms us. A catechumen is expected to attend Sunday Divine Liturgy each week as well as special divine services throughout the year. A few examples of the other holy services are: Great and Holy Lent-Compline on Monday evenings, Presanctified Divine Liturgies on Wednesday evenings, Salutations to the Ever-Virgin Mary on Friday evenings, Holy and Great Week-Bridegroom holy Services, Holy Unction on Wednesday evening, Holy and Great Friday holy services, Holy and Great Saturday morning Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great and Holy and Great Pascha (Resurrection) service and Divine Liturgy, Pascha Sunday afternoon the Agape Vespers, Paraklesis services during offered every Wednesday and Friday of each week, and other major holy days and feasts throughout the ecclesiastical year.
2. Instructional class attendance. Orthodoxy means "right doctrine" or "true worship". The Holy Orthodox Church has specific teachings and traditions regarding the nature of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, as well as what it means to be a true follower of Christ and how to live as an Orthodox Christian. A catechumen is expected to attend all the instructional classes when they are offered. In the early Church a catechumen would be instructed for three years before he (she) was admitted into the Christian Church. The preparation of the catechumen cannot be rushed through. Becoming a member of the Body of Christ, the Church is not just knowledge about the Faith but growing in Christ, in the Faith. It is imperative that we do not diminish or marginalize the Divine Sacraments of our Faith simply to be accommodating to the candidate. The priest assumes an enormous responsibility and is accountable to God for all of his decision and actions. He must be absolutely sure and confident that the candidate is spiritually ready and understands his (her) place within the Body of Christ. We cannot toy with the Sacraments of the Church. In every Sacrament or divine service of our Holy Orthodox Church it is Our Lord Who conducts it and bestows His grace upon the Christian believer and not the priest. To abuse or to trivialize the Sacraments is to commit a grave sin against God Himself.
Over the years we have embraced those seeking the True Faith and True Church and assisted them in every possible way to admit them into our Holy Church but some have betrayed our trust and disappointed us by leaving the Church after few months or years to return to their former religion. For Protestant Christians changing and shopping for a church to their liking is a common practice because there are no Sacraments involved. However in Orthodoxy one is admitted through either Holy Baptism or Holy Chrismation. There are many converts to our Faith, however, those that have truly abandoned completely their former religious confession and have committed themselves 100% to the Orthodox Christian faith, they are no longer converts but Orthodox Christians!
3. Spiritual Guidance. In our Holy Orthodox Christian Church, one does not determine and follow his (her) own spiritual path without the spiritual advice and guidance of spiritual fathers. The parish priest is always willing to support and help the catechumen in a spiritual self-examination to prepare for all the Holy Mysteria (Sacraments), and establishing a strong prayer life.
4. A frequent question is whether one should change their existing name? Legally, no. Spiritually, one who is converting to Orthodoxy through baptism or chrismation is encouraged to take on a Christian or Saint's name. The reason is two-fold. First, the Saint becomes the protector and patron of the newly converted Christian who will intercede to God on their behalf. This new name or spiritual identity would be used when participating in all the Sacraments of the Church. There are those however that may have a Saint's name already who is also an Orthodox Saint and therefore may keep it.
5. Every convert needs to have a Sponsor or godparent. The Sponsor must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church. The Sponsor should be a Christian and spiritual example of faithfulness and take very seriously the role of godparent. Too often the godparent is chosen simply because he/she is a close friend, relative or co-worker. Orthodox Christians Sponsors or godparents must be people of faith, of good character and who teach their godchildren by example.
With sincere agape and my personal prayers to all of you for a Blessed and safe Thanksgiving.