Baptism in the Orthodox Church
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to
observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,
even to the close of the age.”
A person contemplating marriage once asked a Russian monk, “Why bring children into this sad world to expose them to all the suffering of fallen humanity?” The monk answered, “we bring children into this world to produce saints, to prepare champions for Christ, If you cannot produce saints, then don’t get married,” he said. This is the purpose of baptism— to prepare champions for Christ.
Baptism is in every way just as important and solemn as birth itself. For this reason it is an event that requires preparation. By far the most important part of preparation for baptism is the parent’s own faith. Just as your baby was born with some of your features and will copy some of your habits, so, as the child grows older, he or she will grow up with your faith.
Because the child is not old enough to understand what is happening in baptism it is very important that both parents and godparents are well instructed in the Orthodox faith that we may “prepare Champions for Christ.”
We bring infants and children to baptism not because they believe but in order that they might believe. Baptism is like the planting of the seed of faith in the human soul. Nourished and fed by Christian training in the family and in the church school, the seed of faith will grow and produce a mature Christian.
Baptism introduces the child to the love of God and opens him to the grace of the Holy Spirit. These are great riches even if the child is unaware of them at the beginning. To deny a child baptism is to deprive him of this inner grace that is so necessary to Christian growth.
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