Baptisms and Confirmation
All Baptisms must be scheduled at least two months in advance by calling the Church office. According to the Armenian Church Canons, a Baptism may only be performed once in a person’s lifetime, provided such Baptism has been performed in a Christian Church and in the name of the Holy Trinity. At least one of the Godparents must be a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Parents must meet with the Pastor for sacramental preparation and counseling.
Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the others being: Confirmation (Chrismation), Marriage (Holy Matrimony), Holy Communion (Eucharist), Penance (Confession), Holy Orders (Ordination of Clergy), and Extreme Unction (last blessing given to a dying person).
Sacraments are outward or visible signs and ceremonies to give us God’s invisible graces. God’s graces enter into our souls to feed, nourish and strengthen our spiritual life.
Baptism is the first sacrament that a Christian receives. Unless we are baptized,we are forbidden to receive any other sacrament. Any other sacrament received before receiving Baptism will be considered invalid. That is why Baptism is called “the door of the Church.”
The sacrament of Baptism incorporates us into the church as Christians, while giving our souls new life. We become children of God.
Jesus Christ became the first example of this sacrament when he was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Before leaving this world, Jesus compelled his Disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 19-20).”
How was Baptism administered in ancient times?
In the early ages of Christianity, Baptism was typically administered in rivers and pools as opposed to special baptismal fonts. It was administered in rivers and pools. Jesus Himself was baptized in the River Jordan. St. Gregory (the Enlightener of Armenia) baptized King Tiridat (the first Christian King of Armenia) and thousands of others in the River Euphrates. Indoor baptisms were, however, not uncommon even in the Apostolic age. St. Paul, for example, was baptized indoors. For the sake of privacy and solemnity indoor baptism came to be the rule.
In the Armenian Apostolic, the child is brought to the church and the Godfather holds the child in his arms while the priest recites psalms, makes a triple renunciation of Satan, and then recites the Nicene Creed.
The priest, Godfather and attendees surround the baptismal font. Water is poured into the font while the priest recites a psalm. In the meantime, the child is taken to be undressed and brought back. The priest then asks the Godfather, “What does this child request?” The Godfather replies, “Faith, hope, love and baptism; to be baptized and to be justified, to be cleansed from sins, to be delivered from evil, and to serve God.”
The priest then asks the name of the child, holds him up, and while immersing him in the water says: “(name), Servant of God, has come as a catechumen to be baptized; he is now baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; being saved by the blood of Christ from the servitude of sin, receives the sonship of the heavenly Father, to be co-heir with Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit.” While saying this, the priest immerses the child three times in the water. The act of immersion in consecrated water is the essence of Baptism.
Baptism by “dipping” or “immersion” was the universally accepted custom in the Church from the beginning. This is testified even by the Fathers of the Western Church, where at present it is a general practice to baptize by “sprinkling” or “pouring.” Immersion means dipping the whole body of the baptized in the water.
Since the grace of Baptism is absolutely necessary for all men, this Sacrament must be denied to none, not even to infants. On this principle, infant Baptism became normal in the Church as soon as circumstances allowed. One of the aims of Baptism is the forgiveness of all sins, including the original sin, in which we are born to this world. As original sin is universal, and the need for release from it is universal, therefore the Church wisely and justly allows infants to receive the Grace which cleanses them from the stains of the original sin and gives them, in their innocence, the equipment to fight victoriously against sin. Whole households, which included infants, were baptized by the Apostles (Cf. 1 Cor. 1: 16, Acts 10: 47, 16: 33). “Just as parents provide the necessary physical cleansings of the child, supply it with food, guide it and educate it without regard to the will of the child, so, having in view the spiritual progress and wellbeing of their child, they provide for its spiritual regeneration and oversee its spiritual needs.”
From the earliest times a new name was given to the catechumen at Baptism, even if the receiver of this sacrament already had a name. Unusual and pagan names should be avoided when giving a new name to a child. It is always recommended that the name of a Saint should be given because the name given at Baptism is the child’s “Christian” name. At the Baptism someone should assist at the ceremony to make the profession of the faith on behalf of the child. Such a person is called godfather (in Armenian, “Gunka- hayr” which rhymes with hire). The duty of the godfather is to see that the child is brought up as a good Christian, if this is not done by the parents. In the Armenian Church there is only one godfather, of the male sex. The wife of a godfather may be considered as godmother but she never assists at the ceremony in any formal capacity.
The Godfather must be a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Also, those who neither know nor practice their faith should not be chosen as Godfathers.
According to the rules of the Armenian Apostolic Church, children should preferably be baptized eight days after birth because children are entitled to receive the benefits of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as early as possible.
Baptism is necessary for salvation. The parents must not take the risk of depriving their children of the benefits of this sacrament. Parents who put off Baptism for a long time, or entirely neglect it, are endangering the eternal salvation of their children. Responsible people always should remember the warning of the Gospel, “Unless a man be born again of water and spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” This is what our Lord said.
The priest is the usual minister of Baptism; therefore, administration of the Sacrament, under all normal conditions, must be at the hands of the priest. If there is a danger to the life of an unbaptized baby, anyone else may and should christen the baby. In such emergency cases it is sufficient to sprinkle or apply some water on the forehead or any part of the body, giving a name and using the proper formula: “(name) is now baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Should the person so baptized recover, he must be brought to the church and his baptism must be normalized and validated by receiving the remaining parts of the ritual, at the hands of a regular priest. Such extraordinary Baptism is lawful only in the event of absolute and dire necessity.
After Baptism and Confirmation a certificate is given. It should be very carefully kept. Parents should tell their children when and where they were baptized, so that even if the certificate is lost the registration may be traced.
Confirmation / Anointing
The Sacrament of Confirmation is actually the completion and perfection of the Sacrament of Baptism, and that is why Confirmation immediately follows Baptism in the Armenian Church. In the Roman Catholic Church it comes much later. Someone has this to say about Confirmation: “A royal seal validating, as well as confirming Holy Baptism, just as validates and confirms the Creed.” By Baptism a new principle of spiritual life is given to the neophyte; by Confirmation he is endowed by all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are necessary for the growth and progress of that life. By Baptism a new road is opened for the Christian; by Confirmation he is strengthened for this long course of spiritual conflicts in the Christian warfare as a soldier in the army of Christ.
The biblical expression for Confirmation is “laying on of hands,” as it is described in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (Chapters 8 and 19). It is always accompanied by the receiving of the Holy Spirit. “When they (Samaritans) believed . . . they were baptized” by Philip the deacon. “When the apostles at Jerusalem heard that (people at) Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8: 12-17). “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them” (Acts 19: 5-6). Therefore it is the sacrament through which we receive the Holy Spirit.
In the Armenian language the name of the sacrament of Confirmation is “GUNOUNK” which means “Sealing,” referring to the spiritual fact that by Confirmation we are sealed as possessions of God. “He (God) has put His seal upon us and given us His spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor. 1: 22). A Christian character is given to us by this sealing.
The chief sacramental act at the Confirmation is the anointing of the various members of the body of the baptized with the sanctified oil called Chrism, hence the name of “Chrismation” given to this sacrament. This oil is called “Sweet Oil” in Armenian or “Miuron.” Holy Miuron is blessed only by the Catholicos, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and distributed freely to all churches. Holy Miuron is made of olive oil and of the essence of some forty kinds of flowers and other sweet smelling herbs as ingredients.
Confirmation being the completion and fulfillment of the Baptism, there is a close connection and similarity of natures between these two sacraments; therefore separate administration of the sacraments, which is the common practice in the West, is not justifiable. The practice of the early Church was to administer them together.
Like Baptism, Confirmation also is not repeatable. All those who desire to become members of the Armenian Church, and who are not confirmed in their former church, must be anointed before their formal admittance into the membership of our Church.
After the unction the child is dressed. As the last and crowning act of the sacrament the priest ties around the neck of the child a cord made of white and red colored strings called “narod”. It is symbolic of the blood and water which came out from the side of Christ on the cross, and signifies purity and courage. That string combines the meanings of Baptism and Confirmation.
By Baptism, as we have said, the baptized is purified, and through Confirmation he is given the grace of spiritual fortitude, making him a Christian soldier to fight against the powers of the Evil which beset the Christian in the course of his life.
Then the child is taken to the altar to worship God. There Holy Communion is given to him by touching his lips with a particle of reserved sacrament. Thus, almost all the necessary Sacraments for salvation, Penance, Baptism, Confirmation and Communion are administered in one continuous act of making a person a member of the Christian Church.
Monday-Friday from 9:30am to 4:00pm.
2300 Yamato Rd., Boca Raton, FL 33431
Tel: (561) 994-2335
Fax: (561) 994-9375
If the case of pastoral emergency please contact Rev. Fr. Sevak Gabrielyan at (860) 751-8784