9 answers

Greek Orthodox Baptism

Hello Everyone,

I have some questions about my son's upcoming baptism. My husbands family is Greek Orthodox and that is what we are choosing for our sons baptism. It is very different than any other baptism I have been to. My family is Roman Catholic. The Greek service is an hour long (it is all inclusive - meaning there isn't a First Communion, Confirmation which I know is difficult for some of my family). We are having it on a Sat. afternoon. What should I expect with the ceremony? What do the Godparents do during the ceremoney? How does it flow, etc? What should I expect since my son will be 2 years old? I have read up online about it, but I still don't feel like I understand it all. We will be talking with the priest closer to the baptism but it is on my mind so I thought I would ask here and hope others have gone through this as well. I have asked family, but I guess I don't know what questions to ask so I don't feel like I'm getting the answers I need. My son will be 2 at the time of the baptism (not a church requirement, our own decision). I have of course seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding and I know there won't be a kiddie pool involved. :)

As some background info, neither of us go to church but this was something we decided on doing for a number of reasons. Our neice (who was baptised Greek Orthodox) is 17 and will be the sponser/Godmother. My brother will be Godfather (Catholic). Basically other than my husbands parents, no one in his family goes to church (he has 2 older brothers and 3 neices and 1 nephew). Some of my family goes to church regularly, but not everyone goes to the same church/religion. We decided on the Greek Orthodox mostly because my family lives 3+ hours away and also I never did the Confirmation with Catholic.

Also, does anyone have suggestions on a gift for our son from us? I had wanted to get a cross, but that is something the godparent gets (they basically get everything needed for the baptism so I'm at a loss of what to get).

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I think you need to sit and talk to the priest. He will be able to explain
everything in detail. Just enjoy the day.

More Answers

I think this is wonderful thing, and a good time to begin fostering your faith. Babies are often the cause of many people reigniting a relationship with God. I encourage you to learn more about each faith. If you are being called to the Orthodox Rite, have your child Christened. God will do the rest and lead you in the way he sees fit for your family.

While traditionally people expect the God parents to raise their child in the case of their death, there are so many non-religious factors that go into a decision like this. I would not use an important and joyous event such as your child's initiation into a Faith be cause to not have your child baptised.
If you are both being called to raise your child in a faith, listen to that call! Many great blessings will come to you.

Considering neither family is fully practicing, don't be surprised if you get comments in the vein of not going through with this. Ignore them. This is your right as a parent to raise your child in the Orthodox faith. And this is between you and the big guy. So avoid letting others stop you or add to any confusion or questions you have. Keep reading. Ask questions. Hopefully you will get the guidance you need to begin a beautiful life together as a family of faith. Remember faith is like a mustard seed. Great things can come from something so small.

I am also Roman Catholic, and thought you might want to know the Roman Rite fully recognizes the Eastern Baptismal Rite, and while the meaning or history behind the tradition might differ, the differences in ceremony are few for instance:

a.) In the Greek Rite, the baby is fully immersed 3 x's in the water and then dressed in special garments.

Catholics just pour water from the font onto the child's head though we dress the child in a Christening gown or white clothing. b.) the child is then given confirmation and holy eucharist.

b.) Unlike the Greek Rite which has communion and confirmation at a baptism, unless baptism is done during Mass (Catholic Rite) there is no communion at a Baptism. However, Catholics do recite on behalf of the infant, the same profession of faith and renunciation of the devil/evil as are done at a confirmation (we call it the rite of exorcism). The child also recieves chrism (oil on the head) and the priest breaths on them just as is done at Confirmation.

In the Roman Rite, 1st Communion is usually celebrated when a child turns 7, and Confirmation is at the age of age 12 (or age of reason).

*** The only time all 3 sacraments are done at once in the Catholic Rite is if a non-practicing adult who wants to be initiated (become Catholic) in the Church, but has not been baptised in any faith recognized by the Church. Then they would receive all 3 sacraments at once in something called RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation of Adults).

c. The Greek Rite includes the child having a piece of hair cut as an offering. In the Catholic Rite, a financial offering is given to the Church.

d. Both Rites use a Christening Candle.

e. Both Rites read from the Gospel

f. The Greek Rite the famil will have a celebratory procession with the child. The Roman Rite, the immediate family might be invited to bless the child or clap at the end of the sacrament.

Any nice religious keep sake would be nice. Both the Roman and Greek Rite have lovely icons depiciting the saints or the story of Christ's life. A neat gesture might be to give the family an icon of St. Peter (Roman rite) with St. Paul (Eastern rite) to show unity and commonality of the two rites. There is a lot of history and strong links between the Eastern and Roman Rite. They might appreciate the symbolism.

See http://www.orthodoxiconsonline.com/proddetail.asp?prod=S163

For more traditional baptismal gifts for the baby such as books, jewlery etc. see;

http://www.orthodoxmarketplace.com/childrens-products/

For history on the two faiths and differences/similarities;

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-some-differences-between...

1 mom found this helpful

Hi. I think you should call up your church and ask them. The people who work/volunteer in the office are quite knowledgeable and deal with your situation all the time. I am Greek Orthodox and my sister, who converted to Catholic for marriage, and my brother in law, who is Greek Orthodox, are the godparents to our twins. Since my sister is not Greek Orthodox, she was not allowed to participate in part of the ritual, where the godparent applies olive oil to the child's body. I don't remember what else she was not allowed to do. That being said, some priests are more flexible, some less so, which is why I think you should call the church soon. Get all the information, especially what your brother and neice will do specifically, so that you can inform your brother and he is not disappointed at the last minute. Also, traditionally, the child's parents purchase gifts for the godparents. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Congratulations on such a blessed event! I am also baptising my baby on Mother's Day this year. It's so exciting!
I am not Greek so I couldn't tell you about the ceremony. I do know there are similarities in some stuff depending on the churchm "ike my daughter & now son will be fully immeresed in water for the baptism. (Catholic) since they are babies under 1 they use the baptismal fountain.we also had the families bless the baby & had a prosetional (sp?). Talk to your church as soon as possible so you can be better informed & also inform your catholic brother. As for a gift a heirloom bible, a savings bond & a heirloom rosary is what I gave/will give my 3 kids. As for the Godparents I made a book on Shutterfly w/ pics from birth until present time & a really nice 8X10 frame w/ a pic of the Godparents w/ the baby from the day of the baptism.
Again Congrats & I hope I gave you some ideas. Oh & please go thru w/ the ceremony - a BBQ is not the same thing!!

I am Greek Orthodox and am raising my kids in my faith despite being in an interfaith marriage. The answer to what to expect will really reflect which church you are using, as individual priests differ on the strictness with which they preform the ceremony. Technically, only the greek orthodox godparent is active, though many priests will allow a christian but non-orthodox participant to hold the baby, etc.

The ceremony is long, but beautiful. The baby and godparents are taken to the vestible and all enter together. As part of the ceremony, the baby is dunked naked three times in water and annoited in oil. The parents traditionally do very little, but that again will depend on priest.

I would suggest you ask your priest to explain as much of the sacrament as possible during the ceremony, so those in both faiths can appreciate the significance.

As for a gift, an icon would be very nice, as would a bible. Of course, a bond to put away is always useful.

I think you need to sit and talk to the priest. He will be able to explain
everything in detail. Just enjoy the day.

R.,
Congratulations on your decision to baptize your baby in the Greek Orthodox faith. It is a long but beautiful ceremony. If most of your family doesn't speak Greek ask your priest and chanter to speak and sing English as much as possible.

The Greek godparent will start out at the back of the church and renounce satan which are very similar to the Confirmation prayers in the Catholic Church. The Godparent speaks on behalf of the child who cannot speak for themselves and that's why they are the ones that are given the responsibility of guiding your child through their spiritual journey. The other non-Greek orthodox godparents stand behind the priest and Greek Godparent and can witness everything up close. By the way, it is not a given that the godparent be the person who takes the child in the event of the parents death. We didn't do it that way and I never heard of that before. They are responsible for the spirtual guidance of your child but it's up to you if you want them to be the same person who would raise them in the event of your death.

The Greek godparent will be the one that helps out the priest near the baptismal font. She will rub oil all over the baby prior to them being immersed and she will hold them when the priest is done and she'll hold hte baby while his hair is being cut. His hair is the only thing the baby has to offer to God. The Greek godparent will be the one to present the baby to the parents at the end of the ceremony. The non-Greek godparent get the baby undressed and dressed and hold the baby while the other godparent is getting ready at the baptismal font.

The ceremony is beautiful and the non-Greek side of my family thought so as well. The reception is really your gift to the child, but if you want to get a Savings bond than that would be good too.

I hope that helps and God bless.

-S.

R.,

If you and your husband (God forbid) were killed accident or died of natural causes tomorrow, would you feel comfortable in leaving your two year old in the care of a 17 year old and your brother? Godparents are meant to be the second parents and spiritual guides for your child.

I would suggest you speak with the priest who would be conducting the baptism and be perfectly honest with him. The occasion of a baptism is (or should be) solemn and serious ceremony. Once you speak to the priest you will have a better idea what baptism represents to the faithful. Party and presents come later.

Honestly, until you have a good understanding from a priest or practicing Greek Orthodox, concerning what baptism is all about, you would be better off throwing a family BBQ/Birthday party for your child and everyone would bring a present.

Opa and Blessings…..

Hey R., I'm Romanian Orthodox and my husband is Lutheran. Our daughter was baptized in the Orthodox faith by I think a Russian Orthodox Priest. In terms of godparents, her godmother is Orthodox, but the godfather is not, he's Catholic. Same as you. Each church is different in who they allow to be the godparents. And I mean within each faith. For example one Romanian Orthodox church will insist both godparents to be Romanian Orthodox (not even another Orthodox), but others don't care. Based on what you said I assume this was already approved by the priest.

O was baptized when she was 6 months old, and the ceremony was performed at the godmother's house. Here is what happened. The godfather held O in his arms during the beginning of the ceremony. We had a large metal salad bowl (yes, a little ghettoish, but it worked). The godmother helped undress her, they put her in the bowl (in the nude), put water over her head three times. Then we put the diaper on her (to prevent accidents), the god mother carried her around the alter, followed by the priest, then the godfather holding the candle (tall candle decorated with flowers...). They went around the alter three times. Then the godmother dressed her in new clothes. This is apparently really important. It has to be clothes he has never worn before (for renewal). Then that was it.

It was long, but it was nice because the priest did the ceremony in English since most of the attendees did not speak Romanian or Russian. And he was really nice. I'm sure if you call the church, they will be more than happy to help you.

Someone below said about cutting hair. For Romanians that is a different tradition. This is done at the first year birthday.

As for present, I think the godparents are supposed to give a Bible or icon. Another thing I heard is that the godmother should give a silver spoon. I'm not sure if that is for girls only or not. For you, I would probably say maybe some money into savings for him.

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