St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Ottawa

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Baptism

For those planning baptisms at St. Elias Cathedral, the following requirements must be met:

1. The meaning and purpose of baptism is for the child to be incorporated into the Body of Christ (the Church) by participating in the Lord’s death and resurrection. When the child is placed in the water, they are being buried with Christ; when they rise from the water, they rise to new life. Baptism is not simply a cultural rite of passage; it is a literal “puting on” of Christ. The child is illuminated by baptism, and thus is made ready to receive the Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit, given in the Sacrament of Chrismation (also known as confirmation), which takes place at the Baptismal service. Having been illumined and having received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the child is now able to be fully incorporated into the life of the Church, and this takes place most significantly at the reception of Holy Communion. Unlike other Christian groups, the Orthodox Church has preserved the ancient practice of giving communion immediately to the newly-baptized and chrismated infants; there is no “first communion” ceremony when the child is older. The communion at the baptism is their first communion, and they are welcomed to the Chalice from that point on.

2. Before choosing & confirming the godparents, please ensure the prospective godparents meet all requirements: At least one godparent must be an Orthodox Christian, the other can be a Christian of another denomination [i.e. Catholic]; the godparents must be in good standing with their respective churches, and are to receive confession and communion in the weeks approaching the baptism. We encourage careful consideration of who you ask to be godparents. It is of the utmost importance that godparents be people of prayer who are active in church, and who have a dedicated commitment to Jesus Christ. Simply choosing someone because they are a friend or a relative is not enough if that person is not close the Lord. This is because the godparent’s job is to ensure the child is brought up in the Orthodox Christian faith, that their life of prayer and sacramental life is nourished, and that they live “in Christ.” If the godparent is not living this life already, then they will not be able to give to the child that which they themselves do not fully possess. This is why we urge a prayerful, deliberate, and careful choice when selecting godparents for our children. Furthermore, no one will be permitted to serve as a godparent unless they have received confession and communion, in order for them to be spiritually prepared for the great role they are about to fulfill.

3. Schedule and confirm the date of baptism with the Cathedral office by calling 613-738-2222.

4. The godparents and parents are to meet with either Fr. Ghattas or Fr. Nektarios several weeks before the baptism in order to discuss the order of the service, the responsibilities of the godparents, and required items to bring.