Our Orthodox Christian Duty

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My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

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OUR ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN DUTY

The Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism

In the first place in the series of Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Holy Church stands the Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism. It serves as the door leading into the Kingdom of Grace, or the Church, and it grants access to participation in the other Mysteries (Sacraments). Even before the establishment of the Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism, the Lord Jesus Christ in His conversation with Nicodemus indicated the absolute necessity of it for salvation: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. When Nicodemus expressed his perplexity, "How can a man be born when he is old? The Savior replied that the new birth would be accomplished by water and the Spirit: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Saint John 3:3-6).

However, it is indispensable in this matter that the persons who offer the infant for Baptism should recognize all their responsibility for the raising up of the baptized infant in Christian faith and virtue. We read an instruction concerning this, for example, in the work On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, known under the name of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, which has always been highly respected by the Church: "it was pleasing to our divine instructors to allow infants also to be baptized, under the sacred condition that the natural parents of the child should entrust him to someone among the faithful who would instruct him well in divine subjects and then take care for the child as a father, given from above, and as a guard of his eternal salvation. This man, when he gives the promise to guide the child in pious life, is compelled by the bishop to utter the renunciation and the sacred confession."

How important for us is this instruction which comes from the ancient Christian Church! From it, we see what responsibility the sponsor or godfather or godmother of the baptized person takes upon himself or herself. How careful the parents of the child must be in choosing a sponsor! Of course, in a normal Christian family, the parents themselves usually teach their children the truths of faith and their moral duty. But the contemporary breakup of the foundation of social life compels one to be on guard so that the child will not remain without Christian guidance. And even under favorable conditions a sponsor (godparent) should keep close spiritual contact with his godchild and be ready at any needful moment to come to him with heartfelt Christian help.

The tenth paragraph of the Symbol of Faith (Creed) reads: "I confess one baptism for the remission of sins." This signifies that Baptism in the Orthodox Church, as a spiritual birth, if it has been performed as a sacred rite correctly through triple immersion in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, cannot be repeated.  

Baptism: the Door to the Reception of Other Grace-giving Gifts.

As we see from the above-cited statements of the Holy Apostles, and likewise from the whole teaching of the Church. Baptism is not only a symbol of cleansing and washing away the defilement of the soul, but in itself is the beginning and source of the Divine Gifts which cleanse and annihilate all the sinful defilement and communicate a new life. All sins are forgiven, both ancestral (original) and personal sins; the way is opened for a new life: opened is the possibility to receive the gifts of God. Further spiritual growth depends upon the free will of man. But since temptation is capable of finding sympathy in the nature of man, who from the day of his first fall into sin has had an inclination to sin, therefore spiritual perfection cannot be accomplished without a battle. A man finds help for this inward battle in the whole Grace-given life of the Church. The Holy Church opens up further Grace-given help to the newly baptized in the Mystery (Sacrament) of the Mystery (Sacrament) of Chrismation. (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pamazansky)

In order to emphasize the responsibility of the Sponsor/s to their godchildren, we request that we observe the godparent/godchild Sunday with the help and cooperation of our Church School teachers and parents at least twice a year. We, as a way of honoring the beautiful spiritual bond in our Lord that is the relationship of God's love between godparents and godchildren, dedicated a specific Sunday/s a year. We must, however, come to worship on this day, properly and spiritually prepared to receive Holy Communion by participating in the Mystery (Sacrament) of Repentance/Confession and through fasting. Godparents and godchildren should receive the divine Sacraments together on that special Sunday because it is through the Holy Eucharist that we become one with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and with one another.

Our Church School will announce which Sundays of the year we will observe godparents/godchildren Sunday.

Thank you for your understanding and support.

In Christ God,

+Father George