BAPTISM, CHRISMATION AND HOLY COMMUNION AS THE SACRAMENTS
OF INITIATION ACCORDING TO THE ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC ORTHODOX CHURCH.
The word ‘baptism’ is derived from a Greek word which
means ‘washing by entering the water.’ The word
‘christening’ means ‘to become or to make someone
a Christian.’ ‘Christmation’ means ‘anointing
Chrism’, i.e. with holy oil or Miuron. The Armenian word
for baptism is Mkrtel, Mkrtut’iun. The word
k’nunk is also in common use, meaning ‘sealing’
Baptism, Chrismation and Holy Communion are the most important
Mysteries or Sacraments of the Church.
The Order of Baptism of the Armenian Church, as that of other
Orthodox Churches, combines all three of these
mysteries together with certain related Sacraments, which complete
the sacred rite of Christian Initiation.
Why do we baptize?
The Lord Jesus himself received Baptism and Christmation in the
river Jordan at the hands of St. John the
Forerunner and thus showed his solidarity with sinful men. (Matthew
3:16-18; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22).
Our Lord expected his followers to be baptized with the Baptism
with which he was baptized, (Mark 10:38) and
so instructed his disciples to do likewise. (Matthew 28:1-9).
The church thus faithfully and diligently observed
Christ’s ordinance to baptize all those who wanted to enter
into his Kingdom (Acts 2:38. Romans 6:3-4;
I Corinthians 1:16-2:13; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians
2:12; I Peter 3:21). Without Baptism, a
person cannot obtain salvation (John 3:5).
Baptism is performed only once. The church’s Creed declares
that there is only one Baptism so long as it has
been administered in a manner in which its essential conditions
are fulfilled, that is with water and the
invocation of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is not to be repeated and is valid for all
Christians who form the one fellowship in Christ.
Why do we baptize infants?
An infant is not conscious of what takes place at his Christening.
Yet, as in all the other spheres of his growing
life, his parents take upon themselves the responsibility of bringing
up their child in a way that they believe is
best for him. They make a commitment with a view to rearing the
child in the faith of their fathers.
Godparent(s) declare the infant’s faith on his behalf and
declare to watch over the child, to see that he receives
proper Christian training in the Orthodox faith of the Armenian
Church, to instruct him and to correct him, and,
if necessary, to help and protect him as a father or mother would.
And, above all, to pray for him.
Thus the child is taken into the company of believers, where what
is affected in Baptism and Chrismation
gradually unfolds in his soul. He is put on the path leading to
Christian perfection. As the child clings during
his immaturity to his parents and receives nourishment and care
from them, so also he clings, during his
formation years, to his Mother Church wherein he is born anew
and receives the nourishments of the faith.
A child brought to Baptism receives all the three great mysteries
necessary for salvation and becomes a full
Christian through one continuous sacred act. For the Church will
not set age limits for the salvation of man
through God’s grace.
As the child grows, gradually becoming independent and assuming
responsibility for his own life and conduct,
spiritually and in all other respects, he becomes free to accept
or reject what he has received as an infant. We
must keep in mind that the Christian who does not keep the vows
of Baptism, i.e. who does not love and
worship God but makes himself a slave of vices and sins, is a
Christian and child of God only in name. Our
Lord warns us of this self-deception and will not accept such
individuals on the Day of Judgment (Matthew
7:21-23). St. Paul calls unworthy Christians the enemies of Christ
What is Chrismation?
Chrismation or Confirmation is the sacramental or mystical invocation
of sealing by the Holy Spirit whom the
neophyte receives after his Baptism. Through this act, one becomes
engrafted and integrated into the Body of
Christ and a participant in its life. Thus, through the Seal of
Chrismation, a Christian is assured of the power of
the Spirit and of resurrection. Chrismation is the Pentecost of
the new Christian as well as the anointing of the
neophyte into the royal priesthood of the faithful (I Peter 2:9).
Why also Holy Communion?
Holy Communion nourishes and sustains the spiritual life of a
Christian who is continuously renewed with the
power of the Holy Spirit whereby his bond of union with Christ
Jesus is maintained.
As a Baptized and Chrismated member of the Armenian Church, the
child is now entitled to the joy of
participation in the Holy Sacraments of which the greatest is
the Holy Eucharist, to complete the initial steps of
his journey toward the true life of salvation. (John 6:54-55).
Guidelines for Families in the Administration of the Sacraments
Baptism and Christmation
The Service Itself
Prior to any other arrangements being made, the date for the ceremony
is to be set in consultation with the
Pastor and normally takes place within 40 days of the birth. This
is to insure his and the Church’s availability.
The baptismal sponsor of the neophyte who responds to the questions
posed by the priest performing the
baptism must be a communicant member – baptized and confirmed
– of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox
Church. Traditionally this has been the privilege of men only
who served as godfather of the child. Recently,
the Church has granted this privilege to women to serve as baptismal
sponsors or, godmothers. If parents wish
for the godfather or godmother be a person of another Christian
denomination, then the other godparent must be
a member of the Armenian Church and must be present at the ceremony.
When Selecting godparents.
When selecting a Baptismal Sponsor(s) for your child, the individual(s)
is to be a member in good standing of
the Armenian Church for, according to the teachings and canons
of our Church, it is he (or she) who is to see to
the nurturing of the child’s faith as an Armenian Orthodox
Christian. Parents are to take care in choosing
devoted, faithful, practicing members of the Armenian Church for
this responsibility and privilege. Baptismal
godparents, conversely, cannot be indifferent about their awesome
responsibilities and should also give
prayerful consideration before accepting.
During the ceremony the Priest shall ask the Child’s Sponsor,
‘What does this child request’?
The Sponsor shall answer:
Faith, hope, love and baptism, (Havadk, Hooys, Ser, yev Mgurdoutiun)
To be baptized and justified, to be cleansed of sins, to be freed
from demons and to serve God.
The Priest shall say:
‘Be it unto thee according to thy faith.’
It is the right of any child to be baptized, regardless of the
parent’s marital status, providing the child is
presented to the Armenian Church by the parents with the specific
intention and desire of the child’s baptism
The Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation are to take place in
the church proper. In cases of a medical
emergency where the child is born premature or is seriously ill,
the baptism may be performed in the hospital or
An adult who wishes to receive Chrismation or, not having been
baptized, both Baptism and Chrismation, is
normally first required to receive proper instruction as to the
teachings of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox
church prior to the administration of the sacraments.
On the day of the ceremony, the family will need to bring to Church
for the child:
A large white towel to wrap about the child;
A new white outfit to be worn after the ceremony.
When the child is to be bathed for the first time at home, the
water of the washing should be poured into the soil
directly rather and not down the drain into a water waste system.
The reason being that any trace of the Holy
Miuron should not be mixed with unclean water.
The Parish Council of your community has created a schedule of
suggested donations to the church for the
baptismal service and will be provided to families.