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Author Topic: Infant Dedication?  (Read 3144 times) Average Rating: 0
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StGeorge
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« on: July 19, 2008, 02:55:01 AM »

About two weeks ago during Divine Liturgy the priest carried an infant up the nave, and up into the sanctuary.  He seemed to make the sign of the cross with the infant, and people made the sign of the cross.  What is the significance of this rite?  I don't think the baby was baptized yet, and the baptism wasn't conducted at the time, so I didn't fully understand what was going on. 
« Last Edit: July 19, 2008, 02:56:16 AM by StGeorge » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2008, 03:02:51 AM »

In my church it is usually done 40 days after the baby is born and it is done after the liturgy is over.  As you observed, the parents are dedicating the child.  It's different from baptism. 
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2008, 03:07:09 AM »

In ours as well.
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2008, 03:11:18 AM »

It's also known as "churching" the child.  ISTM to be a means, among other purposes, of introducing the newborn baby to the Church prior to baptism.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2008, 03:17:02 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2008, 12:02:16 PM »

Churching marks the end of "Confinement" of mother and child.
Originally, women were relieved of their responsibilities in the Church for 40 days after they gave birth, and after this they were expected to return, and the Churching of the child includes a prayer read over the mother. Both the mother and the child are Churched.
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2008, 01:35:20 PM »

At my parish they church the mother at 40 days, but they wait until after baptism to church an infant. Our priest says that since the baby isn't baptized yet they aren't a Christian and so you can't church them yet. So my son was churched right after his baptizm. It was hilarious because he was extremely angry! He screamed and was quite big compared to the other babies-10mths.


EDIT:  Sorry to weaken your choice of words, but I had to edit out some inappropriate language to clean it up a bit.  -PtA
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2008, 03:45:28 PM »

At my parish they church the mother at 40 days, but they wait until after baptism to church an infant. Our priest says that since the baby isn't baptized yet they aren't a Christian and so you can't church them yet.

If I had a say, my response to the Priest would be: Did John the Baptist Baptize the Baby Jesus before He was Presented to Simeon in the Temple?  I have never seen a separate Churching of a mother 40 days after Birth.

I cannot see what the theological justification could be for how your Priest churches and baptizes infants.   Huh
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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2008, 03:53:29 PM »

If I had a say, my response to the Priest would be: Did John the Baptist Baptize the Baby Jesus before He was Presented to Simeon in the Temple?
Good point, esp. considering that the Prayer of St. Simeon is read/sung to conclude the churching service, thus tying the service very strongly to the presentation of Christ in the Temple.
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2008, 04:08:51 PM »

Quote from: Quinault
Our priest says that since the baby isn't baptized yet they aren't a Christian and so you can't church them yet.

If I were a betting man, I would bet that the priest's comments represent an attitude which he displays towards converts and their children.  The view can be articulated as: children of converts aren't worthy of being churched until being baptized.  If this happened to Quinault's child, someone else has experienced or is likely to experience the same "treatment."

I think Bishop Joseph (please correct me if I'm wrong for he is the locum tenens Bishop of the Diocese of Eagle River and the Northwest) would be interested in how His Priest felt about Baptizing Infants before Churching them....
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2008, 05:26:19 PM »

At my parish they church the mother at 40 days, but they wait until after baptism to church an infant. Our priest says that since the baby isn't baptized yet they aren't a Christian and so you can't church them yet.
That's interesting, because your priest has been giving Communion to the child for nine months in the womb. Does he regularly give Communion to people he considers non-Christians?
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« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2008, 08:43:46 PM »

He is Dean for the "Pacific NW" for the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, I am sure that Bishop Joseph is well aware of what he is doing. He visits with him regularly.

Does anyone have A Pocket prayer book for Orthodox Christians? It is by the Antiochian Dicoese. I have the13th printing from 2004. Look on page 117;

Prayers at the Churching of a mother and her child;
..........................
...........................

(after the prayer it says the following)

"If the infant is not already baptized, the Priest does not perform the churching but instead, he gives the benediction here;"
« Last Edit: July 19, 2008, 09:18:11 PM by Quinault » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2008, 08:53:07 PM »

Our priest has the same practice with the cradle and converts children.
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Quinault
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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2008, 09:00:14 PM »

Do the girls and boys both go behind the holy doors for everyone elses parish?
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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2008, 09:38:24 PM »

"If the infant is not already baptized, the Priest does not perform the churching but instead, he gives the benediction here;"

That makes a good deal of sense, especially since the service in the Pocket Prayer Book skips most of the rite as it is recorded in modern-day Euchologia and jumps DIRECTLY to the entrance into the Holy Altar. An unbaptized person can't enter the Holy Altar! Thus, if one defines the rite of "churching" as an entrance INTO the Holy Altar, then one can't easily justify "churching" an unbaptized baby. (But if the churching IS the entrance through the Beautiful Gates, then no girl is actually churched per se.)

This cognitive dissonance (and the manuscript history) has led several liturgical scholars to conclude that the entrance INTO the Holy Altar itself through the Gates is a very late interpolation. Certainly possible. Even the modern-day, full-size Euchologion stipulates that the priest says "The servant of God (Name) is churched..." when he reaches the center of the nave. Then again at the Gates. So, there's plenty of "churching" going on before one gets to the rubrics about actually going INTO the Altar.

Anyway, here's a little paragraph from Fr. A. Calivas that describes the main purpose and history of the Rite:

Quote
The Rite on the Fortieth Day after Birth
The newborn infant is brought to the Church by the parents in imitation of the New Testament Event, when Mary, the Theotokos, brought the infant Christ into the Temple to fulfill the requirements of the Law. On this day the mother is blessed and returned to full communion with the Church - (if she is an Orthodox Christian) - and the infant is churched, i.e. accepted as a peripheral member of the Church, until such time as it is baptized and fully incorporated into the life of the faith community. The last prayer of this Rite extends the blessing of the Church to include the father and the sponsors...
« Last Edit: July 19, 2008, 09:42:32 PM by pensateomnia » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2008, 09:43:42 PM »

There is also a correlation to the Entrance of the Theotokos into the temple right? (I just taught on the 4 feasts of the Theotokos last week, and I had to talk about how the Theotokos was brought into the sanctuary by Zechariah).
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« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2008, 09:47:04 PM »

Do the girls and boys both go behind the holy doors for everyone elses parish?

Nope. VERY rare. I've only ever seen it in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

It's more common (although still the exception) to see priests who don't take either behind (for the reasons I described above).
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« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2008, 09:49:41 PM »

Our priest doesn't take anyone behind the doors. He is rather old fashioned from what I have heard. He stopped taking the babies back there about 14 years ago.
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« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2008, 09:50:28 PM »

I am biased I will confess, but I think our priest rocks!  Grin
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« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2008, 09:55:42 PM »

Nope. VERY rare. I've only ever seen it in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

It's more common (although still the exception) to see priests who don't take either behind (for the reasons I described above).

At the Antiochian church where I saw the "churching," the priest took the infant behind the doors, if I remember correctly.

At my home parish (ACROD) I remember "churching" happening one or two times, but I don't think the priest took the infant through the doors, but instead remained in front of the iconostasis. 
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« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2008, 10:13:33 PM »

Ollie's churching was much longer than the one in the prayer book. And I had to stand at the back of the nave, then our priest took Ollie from me and then he said a prayer at the back of the nave, at the middle of the nave and then before the Holy doors, then he placed him before the Holy doors and I walked up and got Ollie. (or rather Ollie sat up, wailed, then crawled down from the steps in front of the holy doors and then I picked him up).
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« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2008, 11:27:04 PM »

Regarding taking churched or baptised infants into the altar area: The proper custom is that males are taken by the priest into this area, including a "lap" around the Holy Table. Girl babies are placed by the priest on the top step of the ambon, in front of the Royal Doors (in Slavic custom), and "collected" by the child's mother; in Greek custom, the priest does not take the girl into the altar, but hands her back himself to the mother on the top step of the ambon.

Why the difference for boys and girls? Females, as a rule, are not permitted to enter into the area beyond the iconostasis. This should not be seen as "discrimination" in the modern sense, it is simply the historic Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church. This is why you'll never see "altargirls" in an Orthodox church. There are a few specific exceptions, however, such as senior abbesses who have been given a blessing to do so by their bishop, and for certain other very specific situations. The church I have been attending for the past decade was painted with icons on the walls and ceiling by three iconographers, two monks, and a laywoman. The icons in the curved apse of the altar area were painted by the woman, who had a particular talent for painting on curved surfaces. She was given the authority to do so by her bishop, who was no liberal softy, I might add.
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« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2008, 12:14:47 AM »

That makes a good deal of sense, especially since the service in the Pocket Prayer Book skips most of the rite as it is recorded in modern-day Euchologia and jumps DIRECTLY to the entrance into the Holy Altar. An unbaptized person can't enter the Holy Altar!

True, but Jesus was unbaptized when He was presented at the Temple and handed to Simeon.  Taking a unbaptized 5 or 6 week old male baby into the Altar isn't the end of the world.   Wink  My issue was with the Priest requiring baptism before Churching which is inconsistent with Scripture.

For the Entrance of the Theotokos, remember that the Theotokos wasn't Baptized since there was no John the Baptist to baptize anyone.

Edited for Content and Pronoun correction
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« Reply #22 on: July 20, 2008, 12:20:22 AM »

At my GOA Church, a baby or two is Churched every Sunday on average.  With 2 Priests, 2 babies can be Churched simultaneously.  I've never seen 3 babies Churched although I've seen Twins Churched.  Service takes 2 or 3 minutes and I shed a tear of joy at times.... 

Male babies are taken into the Altar and take a lap with the Priest around the Altar.  Female babies go before 4 icons on the Icon Stand.
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« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2008, 07:44:06 AM »

At my parish they church the mother at 40 days, but they wait until after baptism to church an infant. Our priest says that since the baby isn't baptized yet they aren't a Christian and so you can't church them yet. So my son was churched right after his baptizm. It was hilarious because he was extremely angry! He screamed and was quite big compared to the other babies-10mths.

That's interesting, because the prayer for the child at Churching includes petitions that they be "counted worthy of Baptism". The infant is treated as a catechumen.
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« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2008, 03:03:52 PM »

Taking a unbaptized 5 or 6 week old male baby into the Altar isn't the end of the world.   Wink 

Of course. I was being facetious. However, the larger point is that such a practice appears to be a late addition to the Rite.
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« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2008, 09:05:26 PM »


I asked our priest, Fr Victor, to read this subject matter and reply.  Here is his email response to me -


===============

It's always been my experience to see this done after the baptism (either right after or on the day of communion).  It doesn't make sense to do it any other way.  A person can be baptized but not participating in the active life of the church.  Churching signifies this active participation.
 
In Christ,
Fr. Victor

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« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2008, 12:30:33 AM »

I don't think the Churching after baptism makes any sense.

1. Catecumens were permitted into the Church, albeit not during the latter half of Divine Liturgy - which is a moot point considering that the Churching takes place before or after Liturgy.  2. The Churching is a continuation of the 40-day blessing in the temple (Guess what?  We still have prayers and services which continue those types of Traditions, including the naming on the 7th day), and specifically done to re-integrate the mothers who have been absent recovering from their childbearing, and to introduce the child to the community (as the baby would not traditionally have been out of the house before then).

Of course, I also don't believe that the infants of either gender should be taken into the Altar.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2008, 12:32:13 AM by cleveland » Logged

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