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Author Topic: When should babies be baptized and why?  (Read 2467 times) Average Rating: 0
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BasilCan
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« on: December 06, 2008, 10:46:13 PM »

I am disturbed by the tendency of some parents to delay the baptism of their children until they "can afford the party" or they "can afford to go back to the old country" to baptize their child. Some of these kids, from otherwise "devout families" are almost 3 years olds!!! Now, beside being almost impossible for the priest to immerse in the baptismal font, are their other theological and canonical reasons why babies should be baptized ASAP? What is our tradition about infants that die unbaptized?

Basil

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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2008, 06:26:20 PM »

The biggest problem that comes to my mind is that it's not good to put off entrance into the Church when a child could be receiving the grace imparted by the partaking of the sacraments. Why deprive your child of this grace that they could be participating in? I do have to say that I don't think it's anything to be overly concerned about, though. In the early Church there was even the pious custom of putting off baptism until much later in life, and this was a practice done not just by people in worldly careers like Emperor Constantine, but even by saintly clerical families like that of Gregory of Nazianzus (e.g. St. Gregory himself only decided to get baptized after he promised God to do so when he almost died in a shipwreck at around the age of 30)
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2008, 02:20:48 PM »

I am disturbed by the tendency of some parents to delay the baptism of their children until they "can afford the party" or they "can afford to go back to the old country" to baptize their child. Some of these kids, from otherwise "devout families" are almost 3 years olds!!! Now, beside being almost impossible for the priest to immerse in the baptismal font, are their other theological and canonical reasons why babies should be baptized ASAP? What is our tradition about infants that die unbaptized?

Basil



After the birth of a child, prayers (http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/birth) are read over the mother for a speedy recovery, and to bless the child. On the 8th day after the child is born, the child is brought by the grandmother for the naming of the child. In some cases, the child will also be baptised at this point. Usually, on the 40th day, the mother and the child "return" to the church. (The mother usually will be absent from the church for 40 days to allow for her recovery.) During this service, both the mother and child are welcomed into the church, and the child is usually baptised during this service. (http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/liturgical_texts/churching.asp)

If a child is born, and is very ill, a priest should be called to baptize the child in the hospital. Obviously if a child is ill, and the concern is that the baby may not live, the immediate concern is to have it baptized as soon as possible. If a priest cannot be reached, then a Christian may baptize the child. If a Christian is not available, then a non-Christian may baptize the child. The church provides economia for these situations.

We as Orthodox Christians believe God is a God of mercy. If an infant dies and is not baptized we believe God will show mercy on the child. Whether a person is baptized or not, it is up to God and God alone as to where they will spend eternity.

Obviously we should strive to have our children baptized sooner rather than later. Why a family would prevent a child from being baptized, I don't know, but that is between them and their Spiritual Father.

The sooner a child is baptized and chrismated, the sooner it can begin participating in the sacramental life of the Church, (namely the Eucharist) and benefitting from their rewards.
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2008, 03:43:51 PM »

Forty days...dunk 'em.  Cheesy

After all, parents have nine months to plan and prepare.
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2008, 04:31:06 PM »

Forty days...dunk 'em.  Cheesy

After all, parents have nine months to plan and prepare.

... and it's MUCH easier to dunk a bub who's a month or two old than a squirming, boisterous six-to-eight-month old (or, sometimes older). And the little ones don't even cry!
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2008, 05:36:58 PM »

They do baptisms twice a year at my parish-Nativity and Lazarus Saturday.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2008, 11:02:19 PM »

As sort of an addendum to my last post, here is what St. Gregory the Theologian said on the matter:

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Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children, and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace?  Are we to baptize them too?  Certainly, if any danger presses.  For it is better that they should be unconsciously sanctified than that they should depart unsealed and uninitiated. A proof of this is found in the Circumcision on the eighth day, which was a sort of typical seal, and was conferred on children before they had the use of reason.  And so is the anointing of the doorposts, which preserved the firstborn, though applied to things which had no consciousness.  But in respect of others I give my advice to wait till the end of the third year, or a little more or less, when they may be able to listen and to answer something about the Sacrament; that, even though they do not perfectly understand it, yet at any rate they may know the outlines; and then to sanctify them in soul and body with the great sacrament of our consecration.  For this is how the matter stands; at that time they begin to be responsible for their lives, when reason is matured, and they learn the mystery of life (for of sins of ignorance owing to their tender years they have no account to give), and it is far more profitable on all accounts to be fortified by the Font, because of the sudden assaults of danger that befall us, stronger than our helpers. - St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 40.28

While Gregory spends most of this Oration pressing for not putting off baptism into adulthood, even he is ok with waiting a little while after birth to get it done (till three years old). I'm not saying that I agree with this practice or would say that a parent should put things off that long, I'm just bringing it up as food for thought.
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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2008, 10:40:26 PM »

Forty days...dunk 'em.  Cheesy

After all, parents have nine months to plan and prepare.
Ours was. Oddly enough, she was born exactly forty days before my birthday, so her baptism was on my birthday. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2008, 10:44:26 PM »

However, it's important to keep in mind that there are certain times in the year that baptisms are not allowed to take place.

For example, I had hoped to have my baby baptised at the time near his patronal feast day, which occurs during Great Lent. But at the Greek Orthodox Church that I attend, the priest there told me that baptisms are normally not allowed to take place during Great Lent (emergencies are an exception, of course; but ours was, thank God no emergency).

So we waited until a couple weeks after Pascha, at which time he was baptised.
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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2008, 03:04:13 PM »

However, it's important to keep in mind that there are certain times in the year that baptisms are not allowed to take place.

For example, I had hoped to have my baby baptised at the time near his patronal feast day, which occurs during Great Lent. But at the Greek Orthodox Church that I attend, the priest there told me that baptisms are normally not allowed to take place during Great Lent (emergencies are an exception, of course; but ours was, thank God no emergency).

So we waited until a couple weeks after Pascha, at which time he was baptised. 

Yes, you're right.  Generally baptisms are avoided during fasting periods; in some traditions, also during the time between Christmas and Theophany.
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2008, 03:50:32 PM »

in some traditions, also during the time between Christmas and Theophany.
Certainly not in my parish tradition!  We just baptized a baby girl this past Sunday, the first Sunday AFTER the Nativity.
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2008, 04:46:59 PM »

Certainly not in my parish tradition!  We just baptized a baby girl this past Sunday, the first Sunday AFTER the Nativity.

I actually don't like it; the excuse is "we're waiting for the waters to be blessed" (i.e. the blessing at Theophany); but it doesn't make sense: we never put off a sacrament because of a feast, but usually because of a fast (we proclaim the Resurrection every Sunday until Lazarus Saturday, and have Liturgies right up to Holy Thursday, despite Lent beginning and Christ not having "done the Eucharist" yet - i.e. at the Mystical Supper).
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« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2009, 12:20:12 PM »

which is the necesity for the infant baptism
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